Live from South Africa

Welcome, everyone. This is MTech’s AGcelerate. My name is Nikolai Shchetikhin. And I have Jim Johnston with me, as usual, and me have Phillip Dickinson, and we are in South Africa at Munters facility. Thanks, Phillip for hosting us here. And it’s good to be in South Africa. Thanks for a couple of days that we’ve been visiting farmers and integrators here. And now we are at this beautiful facility. So it’s good to be here. 

[00:44] Thank you very much. Yeah, I think the last time we met was in COVID. And yeah, it’s great to have us finally here. This was meant to kick off down at AVI a couple of years ago, but never transpired. But it’s really cool to have us guys here. And welcome to South Africa, we have been in this facility for probably up to 10 years now, custom built for us 2500 squares, where we bring in a lot of our raw material from our intercompany throughout the world, we assemble fans, all types of fans that we have. So we bring it in a raw kit form, as well as the evaporative cooling media, which we’re going to chat about a little bit later. I think the uniqueness of Munters South Africa here is that we have the product available in a kit form, we can build as many fans as you need that is on your quick demand, as well as the uniqueness that we have in terms of pad facilities, where we build the pads up. So we’re the only company in South Africa at this stage to our knowledge that actually brings in the sheets and we manufacture the blocks and then sell out the pads at this stage today.

[02:00] That gives you an advantage in terms of service and the customer base here, doesn’t it. So you got stock to work off, and you’re assembling the fans, for example. So you can satisfy a customer fairly quickly.

[02:13] Absolutely, when it comes to the hardware, the majority of the stuff we have in stock that the main moving types of equipment, as well as our controllers, you know, our controllers move as well. So we keep a large inventory of controllers. And then obviously, the large inventory as well as the fans.

[02:30] So lots of spare parts are coming from different areas of the world and you store them and then you assemble the whole pieces together in here ready to be shipped to the customer.

[02:40] That’s correct. Yeah, it is a challenge because you know, we’re buying from different business units, we put all the bits and pieces together, and we ship out depend dependent on demand. As I said, I mean, we’re up to about 50 to 60 fans a day that we can build that’s on the new on the em 50s. The old box fans, the newer generation of fan is slightly different is a little bit more of an integral type of assembly criteria that’s needed. So we get down to about 20 of those a day. But yeah, we ship out and we don’t have many comebacks, which I think is a positive, right.

[03:14] And this one behind us, it’s the new one?

[03:18] No, it’s an EMS 50. So in other words, it’s a box fans a box fan, it’s a 1.5 horsepower, and it has a louver at doesn’t have a louver apologies, it’s got a mesh on either sides. So they put those in sort of larger layer houses just to move a little bit of air just remove that stratification of off air that’s happening inside inside various houses. You can also if people have these type of fans, you can also add on a louver. So you can make it from a Circulation Fan into a box fan that has a louver that will shut and open.

[03:53] Alright, brilliant. So maybe we can now move to the production area assembly line. So you can tell us a little bit more about the fans and the cooling pads.

[04:02] Absolutely. Yeah, we’ve got the cooling pad line. So we we built a pad, we build a block from the block, we produce a pad so dependent on what but we’ll run through the various, the various pads and the various applications that the certain pads can do.

[04:16] And I’m really excited about this, because I’ve never seen a Coolpad been made before. So I’m interested in the process. But of course Munters were the original founders or designers of the first cooling pads.

[04:30] That’s correct. Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah, Carl Munters, which is our innovative owner or owner of the past. He did a lot of sort of science in laminar flow technology. And cooling technology was was one of those things that he put together. So yeah, we’ve got some good old photos of, of the old cell deck. And yeah, let’s go and have a look at

[04:53] So we’ve moved to the raw materials storage area within your warehouse. So we’re going to Talk a little bit about the materials used for the pad manufacture.

[05:03] Yeah, so thanks. Yeah, this is cells deck, that’s the trade name called cell deck. It’s a cellulose based material. impregnated with all the chemicals and the bits and pieces, we get them in a sheet form, as you see here, we get a 1.2 meter, 1.5 1.8 and a two meter. And we can cut to whatever thickness or whatever determination the client is needing. as I as I mentioned in a meeting that we had with other people earlier, we do various sizes of cooling pad, we’ve got a 7060 pad, which I’ll go into the specifics of that we do a 7090 pad, also the specifics as well as a 5090 pad. Also Jim, you’ll see that there’s two different colors. The reasoning behind that coloring is we used to do a brown, solid brown pad. Now we do a green pad and that’s primarily because of identification to see that it is a Munters pad. Okay, so green means Munters is green. Yeah.

[06:05] Okay. Good. So from here we go down to the actual manufacturing process area within your plant. Yeah,

[06:12] that’s it. Yeah, As I said, we well, we are we are unique in the respect that we build, we bring the sheets in, we build the pad into a block from the block, we produce a pad to whatever size height whatever application, you need.

[06:26] the only one manufactured in South Africa.

[06:29] To my knowledge, yes,

[06:30] let’s go and have a look.

[06:30] Now we’ve moved away through the process, because it’s a little bit noisy down there. But I think what we saw slightly earlier was the sheets. So we bring bring the sheets in as I said, from an intercompany, we build a block, we cure the block from the block, we produce a pad and this is the final product. Okay, as I mentioned briefly over there, we have three different types of pads that we utilize here in South Africa. One is 7090 is 7060. And the other one is 5090. If I can just touch on 5090 Quickly, the reason we use this it’s an extremely high efficiency pad. Okay. 5090, the five is the flute height. Okay, and the 90 is the bisecting angle, you’ll see that this one here is a 4545 degree. Bear in mind you can see through you can certainly see to some interesting facts about this is one cubic meters of it can afford 100 litres of water, right to drive which is pretty cool. And I’m well aware I’ve read something in one of the older books from the Munters catalog, that the surface area of one cubic meter is the size of five Olympic swimming pools. So that’s the air water contact you’re getting on the evaporative cooling pad. The cool thing about this one is it’s highly efficient. Only problem is it’s got quite a high pressure drop. So it’s used more in HVAC applications as opposed to more AG type of applications. This is a pad called 7060. You’ll see it’s a six inch pad, right? Seven, the flue types of seven millimeters that’s where we get it. You can see the green and the brand identification. The bisecting angle on this is 45 and 15. So in other words, it bisects at your 60 degrees 7090. Same again, seven millimeter but if bisecting, it’s a 60 degree 30 degree bisecting it 90 degrees.

[08:42] All right. So now there is this section of Agcelerate where I start asking silly questions. So all these angles in flute heights, what are they affecting the amount of air they pass through and amount of water they can absorb or what is the like technical difference in terms of efficiency?

[09:04] in the past we here in South Africa, we used to use always use a pouring pad, the quantity of air inside agree inside a house would be at a set quantity. So what we had to do is to get the maximum efficiency out of the cooling pad, we had to run it one and a half meters a second. What that did is it gave us a longer dog box area. Okay. So it gave us 25 Pascal’s in terms of resistance normally, which was the sweet spot. And then the other sweet spot was the cooling efficiency that the pad could actually produce which is around about 70 to 75% in terms of wet bulb depression. Then what happened is the guys wanted the same amount of air going through the house but they wanted to reduce the dog box area. So with reducing the dog box area, we had to go with a slightly bigger pad or thicker pad. And we had to but what that could do is the air would be the same But the velocity would be higher. So we’re running at an optimum of about two meters a second. But we’re still getting the 70% saturation efficiency and still pulling the drag of 25 Pascal’s off the fan. So smaller area, slightly thicker pad, same cooling efficiency, same pressure dropped.

[10:19] in surface area, I guess.

[10:21] That’s it. Yeah, exactly. Okay.

[10:23] And then another silly question, right? They are made of paper. Yes. Or specially designed paper, right. But still paper, how it is not dissolving with the water. Because I know if you put paper in water, it kind of loses all of its shape and everything.

[10:41] Yeah, that’s, as I mentioned, with the sheets, it’s impregnated with certain chemicals that like I said, I don’t know what it is. But the glue is a soluble glue. So it’s a water based glue, which gives the pad its integrity. I think that’s where Munters has also stood the test of time, you know, that we’ve not changed the formula on our cooling pad, and we’ve had longevity, we have very stringent. We have very stringent quality issues that we put in place. So we don’t you know, and if any of our pads do deteriorate, we’re going to do water analysis and those types of things and see what has gone wrong. Because under normal circumstances, and putting normal borehole water, or any sort of type of hard or soft water, the pad should manage it. The pad is just a mechanical, mechanical thing that just transfers the cooling of the air.

[11:40] Okay, cool. And how long do they last?

[11:44] How long is a piece of string, it’s also dependent on quality of water maintenance on the farms, etc, etc. But we’ve had pads in in greenhouses, we’ve had pads in poultry houses, five, 7,10 years, we’ve had pads that have collapsed after one and a half years, you know, because of high dust loads, etc, etc. Just coming back to dust load, we have another product, it’s the same cooling pad. But we put a an edge coating on to it, you’ll see it’s about 25 millimeters in and it’s just, this is the air on site. So just makes it a little bit more rigid. The way I can explain it as if you had to throw water on to the cooling pad over here, that would absorb in. But if you threw water onto here, it would run it off. So in higher dust load areas, we recommend that you put the mighty edge coating on to the actual evaporative cooling changes nothing in terms of efficiency, cooling, pressure droplets.

[12:43] So it’s just the coating that makes the magic.

[12:47] Yes, it’s I mean, you can feel like it’s harder. Yeah, it’s hard.

[12:51] It must be really interesting. Philip, I mean, I’ve never seen them made before, you know, I’ve used them all over the world, and we’ve fitted them in projects all over the world. And then we’ll actually see them being made from a sheet of paper to this finished article. So that’s been really interesting for me. Yeah, for sure.

[13:07] I think you know, I, I get quite excited specifically with the 5090 pad. I remember I was in a we used to use this for great pre cooling, you know, so post pre harvest so where they pull that off and they just want to remove the heat and we were in Upington and carcamas. And I’m without a shadow of a doubt it was 42 degrees outside. And we were getting temperatures straight off the pad 100 millimeter was 18 degrees inside the tech sheet. So from 42 degrees down to 18. That’s an amazing piece of equipment,

[13:40] impressive technology. And that’s why it’s so popular.

[13:43] Yeah, yeah, I mean people go with the misting, the misting systems etc. The problem is we can calculate the theoretical calculation on this we can tell you, if it’s x&y, wet and dry bulb temperatures, wet and dry bulb temperatures, we can give you a theoretical calculation that this is what you’re going to get after the cooling.

[14:11] So Philip, we’ve kind of moved into the assembly line here within your operation. So what’s happening here just quickly explain?

[14:19] This is our fan assembly line. So as I mentioned earlier, we can do about 50 to 60 em 50’s. So em 36 is our normal traditional box fans, it gets a little bit difficult when it comes to the newer platform that we’ve done the second one. So we use this as a dual function scenario. I showed you the pads that we dip. So when we need to dip pads this becomes a dipping station as well. We have some fans that just kind of speed up the process in terms of drying of the pads. But yeah, all the assembly is done pre assembly of the bits and pieces, the louvers the bearings, etc. And in the boxes are, are filtered out. We do all the testing so we check that all the mechanisms on the fan are Putting the louvers etc. The fan is running in the right direction.

[15:04] If it’s a three-phase motor… so thoroughly tested here before the before it gets to the customer.

[15:08] Yeah, and it’s all written and it’s all documented on side on the side of the fan that you will see. It gives you the dates we will see in the script on the motors to see whether when the motors were actually assembled and put into, into the fans themselves. So yeah, that’s us, that’s Munters South Africa.

[15:26] Brilliant. Thanks, Phillip for taking us around and showing us the production here and there. We’ll put some footage in as we go. And, you know, it’s been great. And it’s been great to see each other in person. Because last time we did AGcelerate podcast, it was September 2020. Yes. So a long time ago during the lockdown, nobody could go anywhere. So it’s really nice to be this week in South Africa, visiting some customers and some farmers with you. And of course, seeing this facility.

[16:00] Yeah, thank you. And it’s great to hook up with us guys. You know, we we said let’s get it done. As you mentioned, this is meant to happen at AVI and it never transpired. But you can clearly see that we’ve got a pretty good operation here. It’s the customer at the end of the day that needs to benefit from having stock on hand and into the farms and running. So it’s great to have you guys here. Thank you.

[16:22] No, absolutely thank you for hosting us. And for those who don’t want to miss new episodes, please follow us on social media. We on LinkedIn on Instagram on Twitter, and also follow us on the website. And we’ll see you in the next episode.

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