UK: Creditors are facing a shortfall of almost £3m following the administration of a 130-year old Cardiff-based refrigeration and air-conditioning business.
Joint administrators Richard Hawes and Matthew Cowlishaw of Deloitte said the only secured creditor of the business was Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance, which had a fixed charge of £342,000 over the book debts, with preferential creditors being owed about £40,000.
The administrators said they expected to repay both the secured and preferential creditors in full leaving a surplus of about £100,000. However, unsecured creditors who are owed a combined £3.05m are set to miss out with Deloitte estimating a shortfall of £2.9m.
In its most recent full-year accounts, covering the year ending 31 December 2014, MacWhirter declared a turnover of £8.3m with the administrators saying it traded at "break-even level".
In the four month preceding the administration, from 1 January to 31 April 2015, it reported revenues of £3.2m.
During the 2013/14 financial year MacWhirter expanded its portfolio of installation work to include mechanical and electrical works. Following which it suffered some cash flow issues but the administrators said cost saving measures, including redundancies managed to put it back on track.
But in January 2015, the company's chairman Tony MacWhirter passed away after a period of illness. This had "a significant impact on the work that the company could deliver".
It began to see a "sharp downturn in gross margin on two large installation jobs in Bristol and Southampton" and senior management and directors decided to implement further redundancies to try and negate this losses.
In June 2015, the business was notified by one of its major customers of a substantial liquidated damages claim as a result of delays and refused to pay about £300,000 owed to the company which seriously affected Macwhirter's ability to trade, following which the decision was taken call in the administrators.
MacWhirter can trace its history back to 1882 and celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2012. In 1883, its founder William McWhirter patented one of the first instruments to measure volts and amps. The business opened in Cardiff in 1912 and began specialising in refrigeration in the 1930s.
UK: Fujitsu Air Conditioning has appointed Leeds-based Steve Pickles as VRF business development manager for the Midlands and northern England. His task is to work with consultants, end users and contractors in conjunction with our distribution partners’ to develop the selection of Fujitsu VRF air conditioning equipment.
Says Fujitsu national accounts manager Stuart Eagleton: “Steve will be a real asset, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, as he has been part of the industry for more than 30 years, serving with leading manufacturers, distributors and contractors.
“One of his first priorities will be to develop and maintain relationships with consultants, end users and target contractors using his wealth of industry experience.”
Says Steve: “I am really looking forward to my new role. I was looking for a new challenge and Fujitsu is an industry respected brand, with a range that offers flexibility as well as the backup that gives our customers the confidence to select Fujitsu on their projects.”
UK: Green Point, the specialist compressor remanufacturing operation launched by Bitzer, is expanding its service to include other makes of compressor.
When launched last year, the company handled only Bitzer units. From September, however, it is extending its premium quality total remanufacturing operation to include compressors made by Bock, Carrier, Copeland, and Trane.
Will Pribyl, General Manager of Green Point in the UK, said: “The aim always was to begin by remanufacturing Bitzer compressors. Having successfully established the business, and with a growing customer base, we are now widening the offer to include machines from other manufacturers.”
He added: “Customers tell us they appreciate the outstanding quality of our Bitzer units, and are keen to have access to similar high quality remanufactured compressors from other manufacturers. It goes without saying that we will be adopting the same uncompromising approach to standards as with our own equipment.”
To support the growth, Green Point is expanding the UK engineering team with the appointment of France Bootun as Remanufacture Technician.
Bitzer UK launched Green Point in Spring 2014, becoming the only compressor manufacturer with a remanufacturing operation in the UK. Its objective was to bring a new dimension of engineering quality and attention to detail to every stage of the remanufacturing process.
Backed by Bitzer’s unrivalled technical know-how, it is able to upgrade compressors to as-new standard from any state or condition. The company always fits new motors and replaces all key wear components, while offering machines at a price point around 30 per cent below new.
“A key issue in the market is availability, as most orders arise from breakdown situations, “ says Will Pribyl. “Green Point has a huge advantage here, as we are part of the wider European and indeed global Green Point network. If we don’t have a particular model in stock, we have access to stock held across the network. This has proved invaluable already, enabling us to supply exactly the unit required at very short notice.”
The quality of remanufactured units is reflected not only in excellent reliability and extended working life. Green Point-remanufactured compressors are up to 10 per cent more efficient than some competing units, due to the thoroughness of the refurbishment process and use of state-of-the-art motor technology
For more details, please contact Will Pribyl at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08454 603007.
UK: Fujitsu has released details of its latest product training courses running from this autumn through to spring 2016.
In all their are 10 courses ranging from an introduction to Fujitsu products, to hands-on training courses in the installation, commissioning and troubleshooting of VRF central controllers, splits and multi-splits, VRF and mini-VRF.
There are also specialist courses on advanced service and troubleshooting, including Service Tool, Air to Water (ATW) systems, VRF system application and design, and a new course on their Design Simulator software.
The other new course is on the design, installation and commissioning of AHU DX Kit and Freeverter Options.
Fujitsu say their courses have been developed to make contractors much more fluent in designing and installing Fujitsu air conditioning and deepen knowledge of Fujitsu’s air conditioning products, their benefits and their ideal applications.
All of the air conditioning courses are taught by Fujitsu’s highly skilled in-house engineers and are free of charge and delegates receive a certificate on completion. The scheduled courses take place at Fujitsu’s state of the art training facilities at its headquarters in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
GERMANY: The BITZER Group are mourning the loss of CEO and company owner Peter Schaufler, who has sadly passed away unexpectedly in Salzburg at the age of 74. Peter Schaufler managed BITZER with endless dedication for 36 years and turned the long-standing company into the world’s largest independent manufacturer of refrigeration compressors.
Peter Schaufler took charge of BITZER in 1979 and systematically gave the company an international focus. He turned the Swabian company into a global player and a driver of innovation for the entire refrigeration and air conditioning sector. BITZER now counts on 3,400 employees in more than 90 countries and turnover of 657 million euros, making it 50 times the size it was Peter Schaufler took the helm.
Peter's decisions demonstrated entrepreneurial courage at all times. For example, he founded a joint venture with a Chinese company in Beijing back in 1994. The Peter Schaufler era was characterized by values such as hard work, ingenuity and quality, which are now firmly rooted in the BITZER corporate culture. His forward-looking business policy and his willingness to rise to challenges allowed him to conquer new markets, and to successfully introduce compressor technologies to the market, such as screw compressors in 1983 and scroll compressors in 2002.
Peter Schaufler was highly committed to the common good throughout his life and founded the SCHAUFLER FOUNDATION in 2005 in an effort to bring together entrepreneurship, science, research and art. THE SCHAUFLER FOUNDATION is the main sponsor of the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences’ Valerius Füner Prize, which recognises the outstanding achievements of mechanical engineering students in the areas of refrigeration, air conditioning and environmental technology.
Schaufler and his wife Christiane also made generous donations to welfare institutions and gave the public access to their extensive art collection comprising more than 3,000 pieces at the SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen from 2010 on. Since then, the museum has earned itself a reputation, both locally and internationally, for putting on top-calibre exhibitions. The SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen will continue to serve as a place where contemporary art is discussed, as Peter Schaufler would have wished.
2010 also marked the year in which Peter Schaufler was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to the fields of culture and science.
He received many awards for his business successes and services to society, including the 2014 Gründerpreis Baden-Württemberg for company founders, in recognition of his life’s work, which was presented by the region’s Minister for Economic Affairs Dr Nils Schmid.
The family has since held a quiet funeral.
UK: Toshiba is targeting growth in Ireland as its resurgent economy opens up significant opportunities in both the commercial and residential air conditioning and heat pump sectors.
The company has appointed Ken Lawlor as sales manager for Ireland to spearhead the strategy, with a brief to develop both the distribution and direct sales channel, working closely with long-established Toshiba distributor GT Phelan.
Ken Lawlor said: “As the fastest growing economy in the EU, we believe there are huge opportunities for us to grow in Ireland. The property sector continues to rebound and, in particular, we are seeing significant demand for premium office space – as Ireland continues to attract inward investment and relocation of companies due to the low rate of corporation tax and dynamic workforce.”
He added: “Due to the excellent work of our distributors over many years, Toshiba has a fantastic reputation in Ireland as a high quality brand, with a combination of industry leading efficiency, reliability and technical excellence. We will be working closely with GT Phelan over the coming months and years to build on this and realise the potential.”
The strategy is already bearing fruit, with the company securing two major orders for VRF air conditioning over the past month.
The move is part of Toshiba’s strategy to double air conditioning sales by 2020. The company is targeting growth in Ireland across its range of class-leading split systems, high performance VRF air conditioning and air-to-air and air-to-water heat pumps.
In addition to Class A office space, the company sees a major opportunity in the domestic market, driven by the target to build 50,000 state and private new homes a year. With a mandatory requirement for a component of renewable energy, heat pumps are seen as an attractive option, particularly for social housing where their efficiency can dramatically reduce householders’ power bills.
David Dunn, general manager of Toshiba Air Conditioning, said: “Ireland is important to us, and we are investing significantly to develop our presence and support our growing customer base. This means increasing our support for the distributor channel as well as developing a component of direct sales, as we have done successfully for many years in the UK.
“Following Ken’s appointment, customers in the Republic and North have the technical and commercial back-up they need on the ground to compete and win. Ken will help fast-track communications and make sure we chase down every opportunity and provide a first class service.”
He added: “We are proud of the heritage and brand strength Toshiba has in Ireland, as a result of the outstanding work by GT Phelan over many years. The company is one of Toshiba’s longest-serving distributors in Europe, something we acknowledged and celebrated not so long ago with an award to the company during our distributor conference, held in Dublin.
“We look forward to building on our successful partnership, and working to maximise the opportunities presented for the benefit of all concerned.”
UK: Cool Designs Ltd, the expanding Toshiba distributor, has rolled-out a comprehensive programme of training and technical support to enable air conditioning installers to achieve national accreditation and grow their businesses.
It includes theoretical and hands-on training plus onsite commissioning and trouble-shooting support, and equips installers to receive qualified status under the Toshiba scheme, opening up significant benefits and new business opportunities.
Darrel Birkett, managing director of CDL, says: “We don’t see the role of supplier as simply box shifting. Our installer customers are business partners, and we want to work with them over the long term to help develop their design and installation skills. We can also assist with end user negotiations to help them win tender contracts, as appropriate. It requires time and investment, but we see it as a win-win for all concerned.”
Ahead of legal requirements, CDL was one of the first air conditioning distributors in the UK to require evidence of F-Gas registration before supplying equipment, a procedure now followed by all suppliers in the country.
The company’s emphasis on the highest standards of professionalism has resulted in the development of a complete range of training courses to ensure installers are up-to-speed with best practice. This includes a growing online library of training videos, which can be accessed 24/7.
One company to benefit from CDL’s partnership approach is Nantwich Refrigeration. Following a detailed course of training and technical support by the distributor, the company recently achieved Qualified Toshiba status, entitling it to significant benefits and opening up new business opportunities.
The company, which was established 40 years ago with £200 and a Bedford van, is now looking to expand and build on this success.
Darrel Birkett said: “It is an example of what can be achieved through collaboration, and on a proactive approach. Looking ahead, we see tremendous opportunities for growth in the UK air conditioning market in the future, however one of the main limitations on realising the potential is availability of high quality installation skills.
“Our installer support programme is designed to address this, and over time raise standards and grow the pool of qualified engineers, so that we in turn can grow our own business.”
For further information contact Cool Designs Ltd on 01915 496964 or email email@example.com
UK: Daikin UK and Business Edge have joined forces to provide training for installers on the mildly flammable refrigerant R32.
The Business Edge training facilities, which have been providing HVAC training courses for 25 years (including all categories of F-Gas qualification since 2009), are the first in the UK to provide engineers’ access to train on ten R32 split systems.
Following the introduction of the F-Gas regulations and the move towards using low carbon refrigerants such as R32, installer training is becoming significantly important to the HVAC industry.
As F-Gas qualifications need to be proven, for example, at wholesalers when purchasing HFC refrigerants and equipment, the need to update and upgrade F-Gas certification is necessary for many installers, with engineers of all ages requiring a ‘refresh’ in their refrigerant knowledge.
Working alongside Business Edge to encourage engineers to continue their professional development, Daikin UK supplied the ten Daikin FTXM R32 split heat pump systems now in use at the Business Edge training facilities, as well as training course material put together by Daikin UK’s Legislation Expert, Graham Wright.
Alongside practical training, a classroom-based theoretical session provides engineers with vital safety knowledge specific to R32 installations, such as the required level of ventilation and the monitoring of potential flammable limits needed throughout the installation process.
For further information contact Business Edge on 02392 230 007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
UK: F-Gas compliance standards on many commercial refrigeration and air conditioning sites fall short of mandatory requirements, according to cooling specialist Cool-Therm, exposing end users to the risk of possible legal action.
It believes the industry needs to review current approaches to ensure that F-Gas requirements are fully met, and clients better informed about their responsibilities. A key element is the need to maintain detailed records on site for activities involving work on all F-Gas-containing equipment.
The requirement applies to all systems containing more than 5tonnes CO2-equivalent of F-Gas, and includes the common refrigerants R134a, R410A, R407C and R404A. Hermetically sealed equipment containing up to 10tonnes CO2-equivalent is exempt, and there is a grace period for units containing less than 3kg of any F-Gas to the end of 2016.
The mandatory obligation came into force on 16 April 2014, with the introduction of EC Regulation 517/2014, updating the previous 2007 Regulation.
Alex Strong, technical director of Cool-Therm, who heads up the company’s service operation, said: “The F-Gas Regulation lays down strict requirements for record keeping, designed to ensure a log is available on site for all operations affecting F-Gas plant.
“This has to include a log sheet for every applicable F-Gas asset, and record all mandatory leak tests carried out, whether any leaks are identified and if any remedial work is required, with a record of all refrigerant moved in/out of the plant. Importantly, there is a requirement to log all top-ups of F-Gas refrigerant made to equipment. Full records should be kept for at least five years.”
He added: “This is entirely reasonable and sensible, and designed to ensure there is a continuous log of F-Gas-related work, giving inspecting authorities a complete history to ensure cradle-to-grave compliance.”
The reality, however, is that on-site F-Gas records are at best inconsistent or poorly presented, with no annual summary or management review. And at worst non-existent, providing no documentary evidence of F-Gas work, in contravention of the law.
“On site visits and TM44 inspections, I see many examples – perhaps in 50 per cent of cases – where there is no F-Gas Register with the necessary information for each piece of relevant equipment. In these situations, end users are laying themselves open to legal action. In some cases, there is some form of register or fragmented service record, but the information is incomplete or out-of-date and very difficult to review, meaning equipment owners are not compliant. It is a major issue.”
The problem is particularly acute on sites attended by different contractors over a period of time, with varying approaches and levels of compliance. For example, a FM provider or contractor responsible for a site may be replaced, perhaps a number of times over several years, and data lost or subsequently recorded in a different format or physical place.
“The regulations assume there is full continuity, with seamless handovers of record keeping between companies and a minimum continuous record of five years. The reality, of course, is this is far from the case, and what ends up on a site that has been looked after by several providers can be fragmentary at best.”
He added: “In this situation, the client – whose responsibility it is to meet many of the F-Gas requirements – is exposed if an inspection reveals incomplete or non-existent records. Many equipment owners believe that because they have a maintenance contract with an F-Gas registered service company, they are fully covered in terms of F-Gas compliance.
“However, the regulation lays down specific responsibilities on equipment owners, for record keeping as well as physical leak checks, and they are legally responsible for meeting them. Responsibility is only passed to the service company if this is agreed as part of the contract. Unless this transfer of responsibilities is explicitly agreed, the default position is – the equipment owner is responsible in law.”
Enforcement agencies are known to be stepping up action around non-compliance, with some cases going to court. To help end users comply, Cool-Therm has developed a Reg-Gas add-on programme, which keeps track of all F-Gas equipment and maintains an up-to-date record of relevant data, ensuring compliance with all mandatory requirements.
It is based on multi asset registers for all relevant F-Gas equipment on a site or estate, with an annual summary sheet for each year. This highlights key issues and helps managers understand the impact of their F-Gas assets and identify trends so that improvements can be made. It is particularly valuable when used as part of a wider programme of carbon reduction management for a building or estate.
F-Gas losses can hugely affect overall CO2-equivalent emissions for a business or organisation, due to the high GWP rating of many common refrigerants. In some cases, gas loss may be the dominant component of a building’s CO2-equivalent emissions.
For example, a small business losing 5kg of R410a from small DX air conditioning unit is equivalent to a 10 tonne CO2 impact. This may equal the environmental impact of all the electricity it uses in a year, wiping out at a stroke the environmental gain made, for example, by changing to low energy light bulbs.
Up the scale, a chiller plant losing 100kg of R134a is equivalent to 130 tonnes CO2 impact. This is the same impact as consuming 288,888kWh electricity or 650,000kwh of natural gas, and can dramatically alter the green credentials of the end user responsible for the leak.
Cool-Therm offers consultancy assistance and independent audit of F-Gas compliance, along with dedicated TM44 Energy Inspections. For more details, contact Alex Strong on 01189 700808 or email email@example.com
UK: In keeping with its property strategy Adcock Refrigeration and Air Conditioning has bought the freehold of a 3,800 sq ft office and workshop space, set in a site of 0.15 ha in Bottisham, Cambridge.
Philip Prior, chairman of Adcock, said: “In recent years Adcock has been implementing a property strategy which focuses on the purchase of freeholds for our premises wherever possible.
“Lakepress House is the latest acquisition for us and will be a new home for our Cambridge regional office which is relocating from Sawston.”
Philip Woolner, director of Cheffins Commercial who negotiated the deal, said: “Although Adcock is a national operation, its bases are mainly in the South and East where commercial property values have been steadily increasing in many locations.
“It makes good commercial sense for the company to invest in freeholds today, especially while interest rates remain low. Adcock’s strategy has resulted in some wise investments and we have worked hard to bring the right opportunities to their attention.”
Cheffins acted for the previous owners of Lakepress House, Brian McKay Commercials, which was purpose built for the company in 2005.