“Education and knowledge are key elements to provide good solutions for the market. Training has always been important for BITZER, but now we finally have a facility that serves as a central hub,” said SCHAUFLER Academy director Volker Stamer at the inauguration of the new training centre on 3 February. The modern, state-of-the-art facility is named after Senator h. c. Peter Schaufler, BITZER’s long-standing owner, who passed away recently.
Building on Senator h. c. Schaufler’s vision of encouraging young people to be enthusiastic about technology from an early age, the Academy seeks to develop a close and constructive relationship with schools and universities, while spreading knowledge about new HVAC&R technologies and refrigerants beyond Germany’s borders.
The broader the customer base, the greater the need for training
Ever since BITZER installed its first CO2 training facility in 2010, the company has been organising training and seminars: since November 2010, the company has conducted 150 seminars attended by a total of 1,200 participants from 30 different countries.
“Due to the EU F-Gas Regulation and the phase-down of HFCs, more and more users will apply natural refrigerants. With a broader customer base, there is a bigger need for training as well. We want to make sure that we don’t create potential for failures, because it would have an impact on the market of natural refrigerants,” said Rainer Große-Kracht, Board of Directors, BITZER SE.
Given the growing complexity of components and system solutions, including integrated frequency inverters, electronic components or compressors using natural refrigerants such as CO2, demand for proper training is increasing. Natural refrigerants can operate at high pressure, and can be toxic or flammable. As their market share increases, more technicians need to know how to handle them.
“Training is needed to overcome fear, and to make it easier for customers to use natural refrigerants – they are a safe option, if you know how to handle them properly,” Stamer says.
“We want to avoid a ‘fast-food mentality’ in the HVAC&R industry whereby the focus is on short-term solutions. We’d rather be recognised as a company that supports sustainable solutions, also through quality in education,” he explains.
Flexible, hands-on training for cutting-edge technologies
All the academy’s refrigerant training sessions cover issues like thermodynamics, safety, material compatibility and system design. Courses on transcritical and subcritical CO2 systems also offer hands-on training: participants are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with day-to-day operating demands, as well as learning how to fill systems up properly or start them up from scratch.“The content of the training depends on the needs of the audience, and we plan to adapt our courses over time. We have the newest technology in house, and we also get the latest information from the market. This is the big advantage of our institution – we are not only covering the fundamentals, and we try to be as flexible as possible,” said Stamer. Course material for ammonia, inverter technology and hydrocarbons is currently under development.
The academy welcomes consultants, system manufacturers, service staff and operators from all over the world to its courses. With BITZER having already trained many people in Germany, the majority of participants come from other countries – from all over the world. BITZER already runs training centres in Brazil, China, Australia and the US.
“In Germany, we are the central hub, and we share ideas with people from other parts of the world,” Stamer explained.
As CO2 systems become increasingly popular outside of Europe too, the company has initiatives for CO2 training outside of Europe as well, adapting to local requirements.
Multifunctional building opens up new possibilities
The idea of a dedicated, centralised training academy was born in 2011. The SCHAUFLER Academy is located in close proximity to BITZER’s production facility at Rottenburg-Ergenzingen, the international competence centre for the company’s screw compressors.
The new, three-storey, ten metre-high complex was designed to be a multifunctional building: it has five rooms for theoretical work and three rooms for practical training. It also contains an office space for instructors and a canteen with seating for 110 training participants as well as employees of the production facility and competence centre.
The SCHAUFLER Academy also serves as a new reception building for the production facility. This proximity offers new opportunities for practical training at the centre. “Here, not only can we show the theoretical advantages of our pioneering technology, but also demonstrate modern compressor and electronic components in action. This opens up the possibility of practical training under real system conditions,” explained Stamer.
Ideal energy concept
The energy concept for the new training centre building is a model in itself: heating is provided by efficient heat pumps, underground latent storage (ice storage), a solar thermal collector, and a combined heat and power system. “This concept underlines our commitment to developing products for sustainable energy use and climate protection. As such, the Academy allows us to present systems that use BITZER components in a direct way to our customers,” says Große-Kracht.
The ice storage system collects temporarily available cooling and thermal energy, which can be retrieved when it is required. This enables BITZER to balance the fluctuating energy supply, while also using renewable sources of energy for space heating and cooling.
This article first appeared in the second edition of Accelerate Europe. To read the magazine, please click here.