Pennsylvania-based Encon is making some heat, literally, reports Eric C. Peterson.
Your “comfort factor” is very important to the folks at Encon, Inc. Indeed, their goal is to keep you nice and warm – Encon makes a wide range of heating elements for virtually every product niche. They are products that you don’t normally think much about, but you can’t do without them – especially if you like a cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning, or a nice hot supper on the table, or your home comfortably warm.
Encon operates on a 15-acre site in Dallas, Pa., between the Endless Mountains and the Poconos in the scenic northeastern corner of the Keystone State. It’s about 100 miles west of New York City and the same distance north of Philadelphia.
The company in its current form has been around since 1973. Its roots go back to the Singer Corporation. Encon’s founder, Hanford Eckman, was general manager of Singer’s heating element/boiler manufacturing facility in nearby Trucksville, Pa. In the early 1970s, Singer moved this facility to New Jersey. Eckman, recognizing an opportunity to apply the experience and knowledge of trained employees, raised the necessary capital to start what is known today as Encon.
Actually, Encon (which is short for Energy Convertors, Inc.) got into the business full bore at a time when the industry’s reputation was a bit tarnished. Many in the industry began offering “lifetime warranties” as a way of exuding quality, but Encon was the company that actually put some teeth into the term.
“We have built a corporate culture for being the highest- quality manufacturer,” relates Richard Locke, Encon’s sales manager. “We recognize the responsibility for building elements which are permanently installed in products or households. There isn’t any room for substandard products in this industry. We are committed to ensuring that, when our products go out the door, the customer will be satisfied in every way.”
Meeting the Standards
The clear sign of Encon’s success in meeting those self-imposed high standards is the way the company has grown. Building expansions in 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1997 have increased the company’s production space to some 75,000 square feet, manned by a work force of more than 200 people. And Encon never sleeps – three shifts have production going around the clock.
The company’s product lines range from rubber overmold heating elements, to immersion units, open-wire heaters, aluminum die cast, aluminum finned, small appliance, grill bake and broil, spin fin and other specialty heating elements. Encon takes pride in developing heating solutions for virtually any customer application.
Its immersion heaters, for example, are used in everything from spa and swimming pool heaters to hot beverage and water heaters, urns, coffee makers, and automotive applications. Features include a threaded screw plug to assure a tight fit; plastic/ metal flanges that eliminate the need for additional brazing and crimping; and neoprene overmolds that prevent moisture absorption.
As an innovator, Encon continues to fine-tune its product line. For dielectric failure resulting from heating elements’ exposure to excessive moisture, for example, Encon recently introduced the High Temperature Ultra guard Seal. This seal is composed of a silica composite that is melted into the ends of the element to form a hermetic moisture-tight seal.
“Until now, high-temperature applications have been at the mercy of the RTV seals, which hold very little moisture resistance,” Locke explains. “Regular epoxy seals provide moisture resistance but can’t withstand temperatures of more that 350 degrees. This new product can withstand temperatures in excess of 800 degrees.”
The Best Applications
In addition to Encon’s standard tubular heating elements, the company offers specialty items such as the Glas Burner and the Euroburner. Both the Glas Burner and the Euro burner have found a market in retrofitting existing stovetop burners. The latter is unique for its solid disc construction and temperature limitation sensor.
Encon is now in full-scale production on its newest product line, the plate fin element. “We offer seven different shaped fins for this element to fit every application,” Locke relates. “And fin shapes and dimensions can be custom-engineered to fit most applications. Plate fin heaters are currently being utilized in electric heaters, ovens and furnaces, and other products that require substantial heat in a small area.
“The plate fin offers the benefit of a high-watt density element with excellent life characteristics,” he asserts. “It utilizes steel or stainless steel fins for maximum heat transfer. Multiple ratings can be obtained with slight variations in termination.”
Among the features of the new plate fin heating element are its flexible, multi-watt capabilities and steel fin construction to maximize heat dispersion. Its compact design accommodates the tightest space constraints, and is available in a variety of length and fin configurations.
As a matter of practice, Encon offers in-house design engineering to assist customers with their technical requirements. And continuing R&D is an obvious part of Encon’s operating procedure: “Our experienced staff of engineers and technicians is committed to designing elements that meet customer specifications,” Locke enthuses. “We take pride in meeting a customer challenge to find a solution on how to best design and apply heat to a product.”
Those engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) to assure strict conform-ance to all design criteria. All elements are 100 percent tested for continuity, resistance and dielectric strength. “We use only the purest grades of materials,” Locke notes, “and all of our product meet or exceed UL and CSA standards.”
With 27 years of experience, Encon has developed a culture of providing the best possible customer service and product quality. Innovative approaches to meeting the needs of the marketplace are the way of doing business at Encon.