Volume 11 | Issue 1 | Year 2008

The news at GEA PHE Systems North America (formerly FlatPlate) involves a merger, a significant investment in a new manufacturing plant and a new product line that will in one fell swoop give customers one-stop shopping for the world’s most advanced plate heat exchangers.
The new product line is called GB (GEA Brazed Plate Heat Exchangers).  GB features include a newly designed corrugation pattern on heat exchanger plates designed to optimize the flow of media around inlet and outlet ports.  This new pattern creates more turbulence and has the ability to transfer heat more efficiently.  The GB’s high efficiency is likely to open greater applications throughout the heat exchanger industry, particularly in the HVAC sector, according to the company.

With full production in the U.S., the product expansion will help the company meet increased industry demand and improve customer lead times.

Revamped and retooled
These are exciting times, then, for GEA PHE Systems North America, which is now part of GEA Process Equipment Division. Together with three other divisions, it forms part of GEA Group AG. The GEA Group has sales in excess of $6 billion worldwide and employs more than 17,500 people as one of the world’s market leaders in technology for its business sectors.

The new product line will be produced in a new York, Pa. plant that has seen a multi-million-dollar investment for brazed plate heat exchangers by parent GEA Group AG that increases the plant’s size to 100,000 square feet. The investment followed the merger of GEA FlatPlate, Inc. and GEA WTT America, Inc. of Bohemia, N.Y. Now under the umbrella of GEA PHE Systems North America, the companies have strengthened their number one position in the market.  The move utilizes the company’s structure and takes full advantage of the joint expertise between both organizations.  

“We will have one of the three largest presses in the US as far as pressing force – 25,000 tons to press huge pieces of stainless steel,” notes Marketing Director Kenneth Meier-Andersen.

As a global member of GEA Group AG, the company already benefits from worldwide manufacturing synergies for industrial equipment and systems. This merger concentrates the group’s expertise in brazed plate heat exchanger technology under one roof for heightened operational efficiency. Indeed, FlatPlate, explains Meier-Andersen, has always been synonymous with brazed plate heat exchangers.

The merger is another in a set of milestones that have put the company on the map since 1992 when its founder, with an idea to make brazed plate heat exchangers, started his business in a small building but in two to three years grew into a space of 40,000 square feet.

Heat exchangers are almost everywhere because they are extremely important. The most common heat exchanger is a radiator. Refrigerators have a heat exchanger, as do all air conditioning units. GEA PHE System NA’s products can be found anywhere liquids must be heated or cooled, including the dairy industry, breweries, chemical processing plants and petroleum refineries.

And, as the company attests, there are many advantages to GEA PHE Systems NA heat exchangers:
1. Smaller Size: The company’s plate heat exchangers are up to 60 percent smaller than traditional shell & tube and coaxial type devices. This means they use less space and weigh less;

2. Higher Performance: Plate heat exchangers have higher heat transfer coefficients. This means improved performance and greater versatility for standard applications, high viscosity fluids and special design conditions. In addition, lower fouling rates contribute to long life efficiency; Other technical issues such as higher design working pressures, higher and lower design working temperatures, external frost, freeze and corrosion resistance, and broad Pressure Vessel Code approval are major advantages;
3. Lower Installed Cost: Installed costs of the company’s plate heat exchangers are up to 30 percent less than other types of comparable heat exchangers;
4. Customer Service: GEA PHE Systems NA provides unparalleled customer service, computer selections, and excellent technical support.

New innovations
As an innovator in its industry, the company has developed several different types of technology patents, one to improve thermal transfer and patents for specific customers. Its technology goes to those involved in industrial refrigeration; HVAC, from residential to big commercial HVAC systems; hydronic, involving the cooling of water/liquids and wholesale/resale businesses and contractors.

Recently, the company unveiled a new gasketed plate heat exchanger, the NT series, setting new standards in terms of economic efficiency due to low investment, operating and maintenance costs. The optimized plate design requires less heat transfer surface for achieving same capacity and thus reduces investment cost considerably. New installation and gasket technologies make maintenance easier and ensure a perfect fit of the gasket and plate pack. A variety of lengths and profile variants allow design to be matched exactly to the specified operating point in any application. Other features include:
• OptiWave-design: Optimized wave configuration results in ideal flow across the entire plate width, ensuring the highest heat transfer rates;
• AutoLoc-assembly: With the new NT series GEA Ecoflex has introduced a self-centering plate system. This provides a stable, perfectly aligned plate pack, with gaskets positioned precisely and remaining functional for a longer time;
• EcoLoc-gasket system: New, non-adhesive EcoLoc gaskets guarantee fast, uncomplicated replacement of gaskets.

Solutions provider
Proof of the capabilities of the products offered under the GEA PHE Systems NA umbrella lies in a solution the company provided to wallpaper-maker GTY, Inc., in York, Pa. GTY, Inc. manufactures commercial and residential wall coverings and to maintain the high printing speeds, its large commercial presses require the substrate to be heated after each ink pass to dry the color before proceeding to the next color. Depending on the press in use, there can be eight or 10 printing stations in operation at one time. After each pass through a printing station, the substrate must be heated to between 150°F and 250°F to set the ink. The substrate must then be cooled back to room temperature (about 65°F) before the next color is applied.

The hot embossing machine requires even greater heat during the production process and the paper must be immediately cooled to room temperature. This cooling is accomplished by running the substrate over large rollers that are cooled by chilled water. This is where the chiller is integrated into the system.

The cooling system for each press is piped as an independent circuit to the water chiller located on the roof. Once there, all three circuits were run through a single shell and tube heat exchanger for cooling. The shell and tube heat exchanger rated for 100 tons cooling capacity, as in this case measuring 20 inches in diameter by 105 inches long.

Recently, the shell and tube chiller failed, affecting all three cooling circuits. Production on all three lines had to be halted until the chiller could be replaced. The task of repairing the unit was in the hands of the Williams Company, a commercial and industrial HVAC/R contractor in York, Pa. A replacement shell and tube chiller would take from six to 10 weeks to arrive.

Each day the water cooling system was down, the large presses could not run, and this was not acceptable to the management. An alternative was to replace the shell and tube system with a brazed plate heat exchanger. The company contacted FlatPlate, Inc., whose brazed plate heat exchangers were available for immediate delivery. The units were much smaller and could be retrofitted with minimal modification. The new system could also handle a partial load as small as 20 tons. This was important when only one of the three circuits were in use. The presses were back in operation within a few days. The three combined brazed plate units being much smaller than the old shell and tube exchanger, took only a fraction of space used by the other system.

So GEA PHE Systems NA did the job again. And with its new plant and new product lines, combined with engineering and customer service that it’s known for, the company will no doubt continue to supply products that are critical in heating and cooling operations around the globe.

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