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WORKSHOP Maintenance strategies

The right regime Having the maintenance conversation with DA19

THE FRIDGIE OLYMPICS How an Aussie refrigeration apprentice did us proud at WorldSkills' biggest event

December 2019 – January 2020 / ISSUE 127



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December 2019 – January 2020

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December 2019 – January 2020 / ISSUE 127

Fridgie Olympics 20

HVAC&R Nation is published by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating (Inc). AIRAH – National Office James Harrison Centre 3/1 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia. Tel: 03 8623 3000

Fax: 03 9614 8949

Magazine team Communications Manager Matthew Dillon Tel: 03 8623 3000

Editor Mark Vender Tel: 03 8623 3022

Contributing writer

Kazan, Russia, was the host city for the 45th WorldSkills International Championship. We follow Queensland apprentice Patrick Brennan’s journey to compete in the refrigeration and air conditioning category.

Sean McGowan

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Glenn Douglas Tel: 03 8623 3018



The Toolshed


Global Update Industry news from around the world

ISSN 1834-9522

HVAC&R Nation is printed on paper sourced from well manned forests and other controlled sources.


HVAC&R Nation is an official publication of the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. Statements expressed in HVAC&R Nation do not necessarily reflect the policy or views of AIRAH or its members.

The publisher reserves the right to alter or omit any article or advertisement submitted and requires indemnity from advertisers and contributors against damages or liabilities that may arise from material published.




Around the Nation Who’s in the news?


March 2019

AIRAH News The winners of this year’s AIRAH Awards have been confirmed

Cool Tech Forget high-speed trains, low-pressure tubes are the transport of the future

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission of the Publisher.


Business tips How do you manage the summer boom?

No responsibility is accepted by AIRAH, the Editor or HVAC&R Nation’s supply partners for the accuracy of information or for errors or omissions. HVAC&R Nation is distributed without charge to all financial members of AIRAH.

Exclusive to this issue

Green Wedge A concrete proposal for disposing of coffee waste



Maintenance strategies

See what’s new in the ‘Shed

John McGrath Tel: 03 8623 3007

Skills Workshop


The right regime


Sean McGowan looks at the “maintenance conversation” with clients, and how AIRAH’s new edition of DA19 can help.

Smoko with . . . Q&A with Linda McDonald


Lighter Side The shonkier side of the nation

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



Ed’s letter

GENEROSITY AND PRIDE It’s getting onto two years now since I first stepped into the world of HVAC&R, and I’ve learnt a lot.

WorldSkills champ Patrick Brennan and trainer Carl Balke, M.AIRAH.

That’s definitely what I felt when interviewing people for the WorldSkills story in this issue, in particular Carl Balke.

Some of it has been about refrigerant gases, licensing regimes, how air conditioning and refrigeration actually works, and also what a big role it plays in our everyday lives.

Here is a bloke who, as well as teaching apprentices full‑time at TAFE, has been involved in the WorldSkills competitions since the 1990s as spectator, trainer and a judge. Being a judge is a lot of work. You have to set up the competitions, be there while they run, and then hang around after the competitors knock off to mark all their work.

But what has struck me more than any of that is the generosity of people in the industry. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve asked someone for a quick explanation or some background facts, only to receive a long and detailed email, or a phone call from someone who is willing to dedicate part of a busy day to help me understand. As a journo you usually expect people to be hard to contact and unwilling to comment. That has rarely been the case in this industry. I’ve moved through lots of different worlds in my career, and HVAC&R is the most open that I’ve come across. I believe that generosity comes from a place of pride. People naturally like talking about their passions and achievements. It doesn’t come across as bragging either, more like pure enthusiasm.

I asked why he keeps coming back to it. Part of it, he said, is a pride in the trade, especially at the big international WorldSkills events. You can read about that in our feature on page 20.

Source: Adam Lucas.

It’s a sentiment that I’ve come across a lot over the past two years, particularly among educators. And it’s certainly an asset for the industry, not just for helping stand-outs like Patrick Brennan get to international competitions, but for helping all apprentices learn their skills and get out into the field.  ■

But there was also a lot of generosity. “I use the analogy of coaching the local football team or local cricket team,” Carl says. “You do it for the competitors, you do it for the kids, you do it for a love of the sport, you do it for a love of the industry.”


Mark Vender Editor

Want to connect with AIRAH? There are lots of ways to stay up to date with what we’re doing.




HVAC&R Nation





December 2019 – January 2020


December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



Toolshed 1 Comfort Hunter


“This board will provide small volume customers, even one-off projects, with a powerful SMS alarm solution that can be completely, remotely re-programmed by SMS,” says Australis. “This minimises the need for expensive site visits or complicated VPN solutions for remote reprogramming.”

HVLS fans feature a lightweight, direct-drive motor for easy installation, low operating costs and quiet operation.

In addition to SMS functions, the device can be used as a data logger, using MQTT or HTTP for data transfer, and can be combined with the Cervello IoT Platform to enable IoT solutions.

“The direct-drive motor is significantly lighter than gear-driven alternatives,” says Fantech’s Peter Henry, M.AIRAH. “It’s designed to generate large amounts of torque, even at low speeds, while operating at less than 55dBA to ensure whisper-quiet operation.”

Applications include pump control, alarm dialling, level monitoring, rainfall monitoring, pulse counting/data logging and alarm.

According to Fantech, HVLS fans are up to 50 per cent more energy-efficient than a gearbox or gear-driven fan motor. They also have fewer components and are extremely durable.

Fantech provides a web-based tool to choose the most effective HVLS fan for each application.

Go to  ■


Go to  ■


New split from Daikin

5 Carbon footprint BeauTex is a new Australian-owned workwear manufacturer with a focus on sustainability. According to the company, each shoe in its range is made with a dozen 500ml recycled plastic water bottles, and with repurposed rubber soles. The shoes have a 6mm foam support and are claimed to be water repellent and bleach resistant.

Daikin has announced the release of a new split system series: Alira. According to Daikin, the name was inspired by the reflective trim. The range is available now in nine models ranging from 2.0kW to 9.4kW.


BeauTex is also working on a take-back system with the products whereby customers can return the shoes after two years. They will then be repurposed, allowing the worn rubber soles to be made into new products.

The units include features such as Coanda airflow, twoarea intelligent eye (20–46 class models), optional wi-fi connectivity, improved efficiencies on select models, and more. Alira is also Sensitive Choice approved by the National Asthma Council of Australia.


Go to  ■

“Our products are crafted from high-quality, intelligent fabrics that are made to last and not end up in landfill,” says BeauTex founder and director Brooke Jones. “It was my goal to offer textiles that won’t get damaged in the surroundings they are in while creating less waste to landfill and providing comfortable solutions to people who are on their feet all day.”

“This new split system stays true to Daikin’s commitment of introducing a range of products utilising R32 refrigerant,” says the company.


SMS alarm system

Australis M2M has released a new MIO Intelligent IO board – a 10-input 4G SMS alarm unit with additional features such as data logging, timing and basic logic functions.

Hunter high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans are designed to eliminate the build-up of hot stagnant air in summer by maintaining constant air movement. They are particularly suitable for large, enclosed spaces such as warehouses and factories where high heat can impact on the comfort and productivity of employees.

The fans come in various sizes – from the Eco through to the Titan – and can service areas from 95m² to 1,369m². Touchscreen controllers can control each fan individually, or manage a system of up to 30 HVLS fans.


The range features six unisex styles, ranging in price from $179.95–$199.95. Go to  ■


Made to measure

Measure & Quote AR is an augmented reality-driven construction estimating tool that is designed to measure, calculate supplies and come up with a quote, all in one app. The app lets you use your smart phone’s camera to measure walls, floors and ceilings. Measurements can be taken in either metric or imperial, and are claimed to be accurate up to 99 per cent of the time.

Star of the small screen

The Carel range of displays has been expanded with the addition of pGD touch-screen user interfaces with 7-, 10- and 15-inch screens, following on from the 4.3-inch version.


The displays feature 24-bit colour depth. The screen also features very high brightness, up to 500 cd/m², for better visibility in bright light.

Once measuring is complete, the app calculates the materials needed for the job and can send them directly to a supplier. Users can customise the quote template to add their own labour and material costs – including as HVAC&R-specific items.

Both the pGDx4.3” and pGDx7” now have wi-fi connection, to communicate wirelessly with control networks and any external devices. The displays can also be used as a wireless access point (WAP) or as a wireless client station.

“Measuring using the traditional method takes an average of 45 minutes onsite, plus all the time spent back at the office calculating and generating the quote,” says Michael Reid, who developed the app drawing on 25 years’ experience in the construction industry.

The pGDx4.3” and pGDx7” incorporate resistive touch technology so people can use them while wearing gloves. The units also have IP66 protection against dust and water, and a built-in temperature and humidity probe. According to Carel, this new feature brings real advantages to the room terminal solution: instead of two separate devices, only one single display is needed to benefit from the features of both devices.

“Measure and Quote AR shaves that time down to just a few minutes. No more awkward tape measures, fiddling with pencil and paper or getting your calculations wrong.”


The app is available for Apple and Android devices.  ■ 6


HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

There is a USB port on the front for easy access. Go to  ■

Toolshed 7 Seeley’s cool solution

8 Zone chaperone


Seeley has unveiled the new Braemar RPCQi series air conditioning system, aimed at small to medium commercial and light industrial cooling applications.

Hitachi has introduced Zone Controller, a proprietary solution equipped with a built-in 24V transformer to complement its ducted line-up. According to the company, the system improves user comfort and allows for greater energy savings.

The RPCQi comes with an Australian-made direct drive inverter motor that reduces maintenance by not relying on traditional belts or pulleys. According to Seeley, it is also extremely quiet and offers efficient performance throughout the entire operating range.

Zone Controller offers control of up to eight zones individually, connection of up to five temperature sensors with sensor assignment and averaging capabilities, a weekly time clock feature encompassing individual zone scheduling, and an intelligent airflow control through automatic fan speed mode selection.

The RPCQi features “Black Magic Mini-Cell Chillcel” pads. The thicker 90mm pads increase surface area by 25 per cent to enhance cooling capacity and efficiency.

Automatic fan‑speed mode allows the system to determine the optimal fan speed for the number of zones and outlets in operation, taking into account the amount of cooling or heating power required to maintain comfort conditions.

The exterior cabinet is made with powder-coated marine grade aluminium to withstand Australia’s harsh environment, and the unit’s design makes it suitable for direct on-duct mounting. Both side and top supply air configurations are also available to suit other applications. The Braemar RPCQi can be integrated with the MagIQtouch controller. It is Modbus and BMS capable and can operate up to 60 coolers from a single controller. It also features the latest in Radio Frequency (RF) channel hopping technology for wireless operation, and the MagIQtouch Wi-Fi smart app allows control directly from a smart device.

The Zone Controller display features a large backlit LCD screen enabling users to view individual zone status. The menu has been designed to make zone control easy, and allows users to switch each zone on or off, or switch all zones on or off simultaneously.


Hitachi has also incorporated a power tracking feature, allowing users to monitor power usage for a day, week or year in a table or graph.

Go to  ■  ■


Email All submissions received will be considered, though publication cannot be guaranteed.


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For all your HVAC product, design, installation and servicing needs: Call (02) 9804 6366 or visit:

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



Global Update



Source: Johan Bodell/Chalmers University of Technology

R290 REVOLUTION? German development agency GIZ has published a resource guide promoting the use of R290 (propane) in split system air conditioners. The guide highlights the efficiency benefits and potential emissions reductions that propane offers, and addresses concerns about using a flammable refrigerant in such systems. Ultimately, it aims to encourage policy-makers to facilitate the market uptake of energy-efficient split systems using R290. “Considering the phase-down of HFCs such as R410A and R32, R290 is today the only viable and future-proof choice for residential and light commercial single‑split air conditioning,” says the German Environment Agency’s Dr Rettina Rechenberg, who wrote the forward to the report. Despite these grand claims, independent lab tests have not shown R290 to be significantly more energy efficient than R32. The guide also recognises that use of R290 in splits is hampered by its A3, highly flammable classification.  ■

When sunlight hits the molecule – made up of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen – it captures photons and simultaneously changes form. Later, a catalyst can be used to release the heat. It can also be used to create a coating for windows, vehicles or clothes. In the case of windows, this could block heat during the day and release it at night. “The aim is to create a pleasant indoor environment even when the sun is at its hottest, without consuming any energy,” says chemist Kasper Moth-Poulsen, who is leading the research. The coating could be commercially available in just three years, if the team can find investors.  ■




This is known as the elastocaloric effect, and it has the potential to transfer heat in much the same way as the working fluid in a refrigeration circuit. Students at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, recently completed a successful trial of elastocaloric heating and cooling – with a twist. The team took a 3cm length of rubber fibre, held it taut in a vice and began to wind it with a rotary tool. They measured a level of efficiency twice as high as stretching the same materials without twisting, and comparable to that of standard refrigerants. This generates the elastocaloric effect in less space, and could lead to the development of more environmentally domestic fridges.  ■


A team at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg has developed a liquid molecule that could be a game-changer for heating and cooling. The concept is known as molecular solar thermal storage, or MOST.


Grab a rubber band, stretch it tight and put it against your lips and you’ll feel the heat. Let it return to its normal size and you’ll feel the coolth.



HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

Congolese five-piece band Kokoko! have been making waves with their unique brand of dance music. For their instruments, they have cobbled together various found items and pieces of rubbish, including a steel air duct box, which serves as a kick drum. “Our raw materials are stolen, all our riches are taken from us,” the band says. “We use the trash to create instruments. There’s no need for words, our instruments are the message.” Since being noticed by international listeners, the bands have been touring overseas, including at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. Finding a carry case for the ductwork drum and the other upcycled instruments has been a challenge, and if something breaks on the road they often resort to duct tape. “Stuff breaks,” says band member Débruit. “There’s a lot of improvisation.”  ■

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation






Image: A.G. Coombs

Do your clients take maintenance seriously, or do they wait until something goes wrong before calling? The recent update to AIRAH’s DA19 HVAC&R Maintenance manual is a chance to raise the topic, as Sean McGowan reports. 10


HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

Feature Good maintenance practices underpin the performance of HVAC&R systems and services. They promote safety, reliability and comfort as well as helping to manage operational costs, achieve environmental ratings and meet legislated compliance. Conversely, in this age of high energy costs, reductions in carbon footprints and regulatory compliance, the failure to provide good maintenance can be costly. “Maintenance for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration has never been more important, says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. “Our economy depends on reliable, effective and efficient HVAC&R like never before, which means it also depends on HVAC&R maintenance like never before.” Recognising the changes and challenges facing the industry, AIRAH has recently released a new edition of its leading design application manual, DA19: HVAC&R Maintenance. The definitive reference for HVAC&R maintenance in Australia for more than 20 years, this fourth edition features significant updates relating to energy efficiency, system sustainability and asset management. It also addresses the digitisation of maintenance – otherwise referred to as “smart maintenance”. Data on HVAC&R performance is becoming more readily available, and is opening up a new world of opportunities in understanding where and when maintenance activity should be applied. “The emergence of data-driven, digitally enabled maintenance is probably the biggest change, opportunity, challenge and threat facing the industry today,” says DA19 editor Vince Aherne, F.AIRAH.

THE GOLDILOCKS PRINCIPLE If you have young children or can recall your childhood, you’ll know the story of the three bears. Goldilocks tries three different bowls of porridge and finds one to be too hot, another to be too cold and one to be just right. The Goldilocks principle is used in everything from astrophysics to psychology, economics and engineering, where the concept of finding “just the right amount” is required. In HVAC&R maintenance, the Goldilocks principle is particularly pertinent.



In the cut-and-thrust world of HVAC&R service and maintenance, DA19 has long been regarded as an important tool for both clients and contractors.

According to Airmaster’s Rob Huntington, any maintenance regime that includes “run to fail” is a concern and fraught with danger.

“DA19 is a detailed manual outlining maintenance schedules and items to assist not only the technician but also the client in understanding basic maintenance requirements from small to large plant,” says Gary Jones, M.AIRAH, service technician with Finn Air in Queensland .

“The obvious challenge will be around the tenant experience and the impact that unplanned downtime can have on the conditions in a building,” he says. “But there is also significant risk being taken on by the building owners and managers if this is the model that is adopted – particularly if the equipment being run to fail is designed to operate in fire mode or if there is a potential for microbial growth such as in an air handling unit or cooling tower.”

If equipment is running well the client will reap the benefits, not only in energy and cost savings but also tenant satisfaction “Maintenance may appear a mundane task to many; however, it is what keeps equipment ticking along. And if equipment is running well the client will reap the benefits, not only in energy and cost savings but also tenant satisfaction.” It’s why the new DA19 is already being touted as a game-changer for the industry. According to Airmaster’s national business development manager Rob Huntington, this latest edition is a vastly improved resource, which should also be much better understood for the benefit of both contractors and clients. “Previously, clients have specified DA19 in an effort to achieve a maintenance regime beyond just that of compliance,” Huntington says. “In some cases, it was assumed that by specifying DA19, all tenderers would apply it the same way and enable clients to assess tenders and make decisions based on value for money. “Of course, this was based on the view that all responses to a maintenance tender that used DA19 as a reference would be the same. But in practice there was a varying level of understanding of DA19, resulting in huge price differences between those who applied it as a specification and made allowance for all tasking at the nominated frequencies, and those businesses that ignored it completely.”

To counter this, the new DA19 includes three levels of maintenance schedules: Compliance, Good Practice and Best Practice. This allows building owners, facility managers and end-clients to customise maintenance schedules to meet individual objectives and budgets. “Regardless of the size of the building, the sector, the owner or tenant, I believe all owners and building managers are trying to create a safe and healthy environment for their tenants while trying to manage and reduce energy costs,” says Huntington. “To this point, DA19 can now be used to create a customised maintenance regime that also fits within budget constraints.” A section has also been introduced on system tuning and optimisation to support the need to achieve energy savings and operational performance improvements.

ACROSS ALL TIERS In the past, many have considered DA19 as being aimed at the top end of town. However, the stratification of maintenance schedules detailed within it now makes it a more relevant document across all tiers of buildings. This includes the important mid-tier, where reactive maintenance – in other words, fix it when it breaks – has long been the preferred method.

Maintenance regimes are not just for the top end of town – they are vital for mid-tier buildings too.

Too little maintenance will result in higher instances of equipment breakdowns, failures and energy inefficiencies; too much maintenance sees the labour cost outweigh the benefits of reduced service calls and improved energy efficiency. “Finding this balance is important,” says Greenstar Group’s Brett Smith, M.AIRAH. “The need to work with the client to reach a suitable price point – that is acceptable, allows sufficient time allocation to ensure a quality maintenance regime, and allows the contractor to make a margin on their effort – is an ongoing challenge in the current market.”

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation




THE DA LOWDOWN AIRAH’s Design Application (DA) manuals are technical publications designed to assist people in day-to-day work in the HVAC&R industry. They are aligned to industry standards and best practices. AIRAH members are given free access to a selection of DA manuals available digitally. They also get discounted rates for hard copies. Non-AIRAH members can order hard-copy releases of DA manuals too. Visit for more information.

A good maintenance regime is informed by the contractor’s experience and the owner’s needs

According to A.G. Coombs’ Paul Eagling, DA19 is now better equipped to apply across the diverse mid-tier sector where air conditioning and mechanical services maintenance regimes are similarly varied. “From what we see, a lot of mid-tier maintenance is focused on compliance and, beyond that, is predominantly reactive,” he says.

“DA19 represents the industry’s ‘body of knowledge’,” says Six Capitals Consulting’s Bruce Precious, M.AIRAH, who lent his property management experience to the drafting of the new manual.

Eagling says the mid-tier sector, especially, requires a simple methodology to create a maintenance plan that has the right framework. The revised DA19 manual provides this.

Precious says that as well as being more applicable to a wide range of building types, this new edition of DA19 features, for the first time, suggested maintenance activities for each type of plant.

Additionally, DA19 provides facility managers (FMs) and property managers (PMs) with a tool they can use to achieve better engagement with buildings owners.

This includes activities and frequencies of service depending on the preferred maintenance strategy. “If you have a simple building with air-cooled splits, you’ll have a very different maintenance regime to a complex, 24/7 building with cooling towers,” Precious says.

Brett Smith, managing director of Greenstar Group in Perth, says although FMs and PMs are generally proactive in establishing maintenance regimes, many building owners don’t see the value.

“DA19 is designed to be infinitely scalable in this regard.”

“While many building owners understand the value of maintenance, unfortunately some either do not understand, or they believe they are saving money by opting for reactive-only services,” Smith says.


“We find the challenges generally fall with the building owner, or owner-managed sites. Through a lack of knowledge and a belief that they are saving money by reducing the maintenance spend they are, in fact, likely creating a larger overspend much sooner than necessary.”

When considering the maintenance conversation, Eagling says it should break one of two ways depending on the building. “For new builds, it should fall on the HVAC design engineer working in conjunction with the building owner to get the right framework in place from the beginning,” he says.

To this end, Smith says customised scheduled maintenance regimes with a quality service provider work best in the mid-tier sector. “Coupled with robust reporting, data analysis and regular feedback to the end-users, it ensures a sustainable long-term solution for the life of the asset.”

HVAC&R Nation


But for existing buildings, Eagling says the maintenance conversation should be between the building manager (acting as a delegate of the owner) and the maintenance provider. “The HVAC contractor should bring their insights and experience to the table, particularly around plant condition and criticality. The building manager can explain the owner’s objectives for the building around the asset plan, space management and so on.”

Critically, the DA19 manual comes complete with a new user guide that sets out seven steps building owners and FMs need to take to initiate a maintenance planning process. By completing these steps, it allows the service provider to better understand their needs and respond with a maintenance plan that delivers. |

By being clear as to the outcomes they desire, owners are better able to understand the balancing act of cost versus benefit in maintenance expenditure.


“This can increase risk to the building owner, as well as the service provider, and almost inevitably leads to a higher overall spend compared to an approach that includes an element of preventative maintenance.”


This, in part, requires building owners to nominate the desired performance outcomes of the HVAC system.

Ultimately, he says, you need both parts of the equation to get the correct maintenance outcome. |

December 2019 – January 2020

“Both have a role to play in getting the conversation going,” says Eagling. “And DA19 can then play an important role turning those inputs into the right maintenance regime.” For this reason, the manual has been structured so that owners, building managers and service providers can work through the key sections together in a collaborative way, leading to the development of an ideal approach for their building and mechanical services assets. “The best strategy will always be underpinned by strong, open communications,” he adds. DA19 also establishes a common language for performance of HVAC&R, and identifies what successful maintenance looks like. “We’ve seen the impact that focussing on an outcome has on the performance of facility and maintenance teams where NABERS targets have been set by owners and effectively communicated,” says Precious. “Focussing on outcomes is key.” ■

DA19 USER GUIDE In concert with the release of the new edition of DA19, an accompanying online user guide has been developed by AIRAH with the support of the ARBS Education & Research Foundation. This online resource is provided free to the industry and is intended to help facility managers and building owners better understand the steps they must take when using DA19 to specify their HVAC&R maintenance needs. The free user guide can be found at The DA19 User Guide has been endorsed by the Property Council of Australia (PCA), the Facility Management Association (FMA) and the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA).

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HVAC&R Nation



Green Wedge


OPTIMISM A university project is exploring turning coffee waste into concrete. A project at RMIT University is aiming to convert the waste from the 1.3 million cups of coffee drunk daily in Australia into concrete for the built environment. Most concrete mixes contain up to 80 per cent sand – the Earth’s third most used resource. Although sand may appear to be a plentiful, it can’t keep pace with demand. Furthermore, extracting it from fragile ecosystems can have a considerable environmental impact. Brew-loving RMIT University engineering senior lecturer Dr Srikanth Venkatesan was working with students Senura Kohombange and Anthony Abiad when they saw an opportunity.


HVAC&R Nation


With more than 2,500 cafes in the City of Melbourne alone, about 150,000kg of coffee-ground waste is produced every month. As a regular cappuccino drinker, Venkatesan was inspired to find a solution to the waste he was helping to produce.

Replacing up to 10 per cent of sand in a concrete mix with coffee grounds enabled them to produce and test sample “coffee bricks”.


“It seems fitting than we’re working on this project in Melbourne, a city known for its great coffee culture,” Kohombange says. “We are very excited to present the project, share the idea with others and showcase how some innovative thinking can turn a waste product into an everyday construction material.”

“The biggest challenge is ensuring the addition of spent coffee grinds does not lead to a reduction in strength of concrete,” he says.


December 2019 – January 2020

In the City of Melbourne alone, about 150,000kg of coffee-ground waste is produced every month “And this is the focus of further testing and development to make this product viable for use in real-world applications.” The coffee bricks were on display as part of the university’s recent EnGenius event. ■


125 127



Skills summary ■ What?

An overview of the building different controls approaches and to HVAC&R the terms maintenance. commonly used when discussing them.

■ Who? Who? Maintenance specifiers and service ■

Maintenance service providers, providers, facility managers and controls vendors and integrators, building owners. designers and contractors, construction and project managers, facility managers, building owners and developers, tenants and occupants.

1. Maintenance strategies defined

There are two main approaches to maintenance: proactive maintenance and reactive maintenance. 1. Proactive maintenance includes a range of maintenance strategies for maintenance delivery, including preventative and predictive maintenance techniques: • Preventative maintenance (PM) strategies include: – Scheduled maintenance, e.g., replace a filter every 3 months or test a fire damper once every 5 years – Repair/replace on condition, e.g., replace the filter when the differential pressure across the filter exceeds 200 Pa. • Predictive maintenance (PdM) strategies include: – Data-driven analytics – Condition monitoring – Reliability-centred maintenance. A tailored maintenance program for a building or plant is typically a hybrid, incorporating elements of scheduled maintenance, system monitoring and metering, plant condition monitoring and predictive analytics or fault detection and diagnosis. 2. Reactive maintenance (RM) is the principle of run to failure and then repair or replace individual physical components. Reactive maintenance is also called “operate to fail” or “breakdown maintenance” and is really the absence

MAINTENANCE CONTROLS STRATEGIES FUNDAMENTALS Some elements of maintenance are not discretionary. They are are tasks by important codes or regulations to ensure safety Controls anmandated increasingly consideration in newthe building and wellbeing of building occupants, service and the public. design and existing building renovation. Theypersonnel are directly linked to They must be includedand in every maintenance plan. building performance energy management, commissioning and retro-commissioning, operation and maintenance and broader links Other maintenance actions or taskshealth are determined theultimately performance to building sustainability, building and safety,by and criteria may include reliability, equipment life and buildingthat satisfaction andefficiency, productivity. maintenance costs. No single strategy will suit all equipment in a given facility. appropriate strategy systems should be selected The operationThe andmost control of environmental in buildings is a for each plant and system. critical activityitem in terms of operating costs, environmental footprint, occupant comfort, and indoor environment quality. The operation of The two main approaches to maintenance be described as many building systems is sub-optimal and can the performance of these proactive maintenance and reactive maintenance. Within proactive systems can improve with better control strategies. Efficient buildings maintenance are preventative and predictive strategies. need efficientthere controls. This Skills Workshop explains these approaches. This Skills Workshop provides a broad overview of control system and explains common terms offundamentals an ongoing maintenance strategy. some of the vehicle. Service is carriedused out onwhen the An example would be running the discussing control systems. recommendation of the manufacturer system until the filter is so blocked that air conditioning fails to perform and then change the filter to re‑establish operation.

based on a fixed distance travelled or elapsed time, whichever occurs first. Industrial maintenance is often scheduled on elapsed operating hours.

Breakdown maintenance is also required when the HVAC&R system fails to deliver to the owner’s specified requirements. For instance, failure to maintain temperature in an air conditioned zone may not be caused by a physical failure of a specific component but through the interaction of a number of system elements including software. Regardless, this breakdown requires maintenance to ensure performance can be restored.

Under a time-based or scheduled maintenance strategy, overhauls of plant are performed at periodic intervals. The timing of the maintenance activity will ideally be calculated to minimise the combined planned and emergency repair costs. The majority of failures can be pre-empted, although some will still occur. The results of a poorly designed maintenance schedule can be that much of the work performed is unnecessary, and some may even introduce failures into healthy plant.

2. Preventative maintenance strategies

An approach to developing a scheduled maintenance program for a HVAC&R component, system, building or facility is provided in Appendix A of DA19. Three levels of maintenance are provided in the schedules:

Preventative maintenance (PM) strategies include: • Scheduled maintenance • Repair/replace on condition.

A. Best practice

2.1. Scheduled maintenance

B. Good practice

Scheduled maintenance comprises a list of pre-determined maintenance activities that are delivered at a specified frequency. It can include all the mandatory tasks required under regulations, tasks required to ensure ongoing health and safety, tasks identified by the equipment manufacturer, tasks required to ensure ongoing system sustainability, and those accepted as normal practice.

C. Compliance All maintenance programs must incorporate the tasks and frequencies nominated for Compliance level (C) and then select either: • Good practice (B), the base level for a general HVAC&R maintenance solution; or • Best practice (A), the ideal approach for reliability and energy performance management.

An example of scheduled maintenance is the regular servicing of a motor December 2019 – January 2020



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HVAC&R Skills Workshop Schedule frequencies and tolerances The reporting frequencies described in DA19 are suggested only. Actual frequencies should be determined by the owner, or owner’s representative, either by specification or by consultation with the servicing contractor and equipment supplier. System designers should provide comprehensive recommendations on maintenance actions and frequencies within the system operating and maintenance manual. Maintenance frequencies must be appropriate to the specific application and take account of the conditions of use.

Frequency (m) Action

Level A


Explanation C

1. Figure 5.1 – Layout of a typical maintenance schedule

Maintenance schedules for plant and equipment commonly found in HVAC&R systems are provided in Appendix A of DA19. A basic scheduled maintenance program can be developed from compiling these individual schedules into a system program. A step-by-step overview of this process for a simple air handling system is provided in Appendix B of DA19.

The frequencies selected will depend on factors such as: • Type and technology of equipment installed • Operating environment

Schedule format Three levels of scheduled maintenance are provided within the maintenance schedules (see Figure 5.1):

• Geographical location • Intensity of use of the equipment • Priority given for the equipment to remain operational

Level A) Best practice – this includes all of the maintenance tasks and frequencies to comply with the compliance and good practice levels outlined below and would typically include for some tasks to be scheduled more frequently to ensure greater knowledge and understanding about plant condition, or suggest where additional proactive information may be continuously gathered to increase vigilance or analyse trends, such as vibration analysis, thermograph, energy consumption, pressure drop, etc.

• Seasonal operation profile. For reasons of practicality and flexibility, a time tolerance for frequency should be specified. Recommended tolerances are set out in Table 5.1. Such tolerances are not applicable where specific statutory requirements or specific owner instructions state otherwise. Maintenance frequencies should be kept under review. A possible indication of the need for more frequent maintenance could be a repeating failure profile.

Level B) Good practice – this includes all of the maintenance tasks and frequencies to comply with the compliance level outlined below and the additional work required to achieve a good scheduled maintenance program. This level is particularly important for equipment that does not have compliance requirements such as pumps, and therefore if left to Level C alone would not have a structured maintenance program. This level is a good industry-practice level, but it is somewhat discretionary as there is no act or regulation requiring this work to be performed.

Maintenance frequencies can be extended if supported by long-term maintenance records and experience, or by the application of condition monitoring procedures.

2.2 Repair/replace on condition This strategy is a simple version of condition monitoring. Equipment is inspected regularly, but intervention only occurs according to levels of wear or other indicators.

Level C) Compliance – this is the minimum maintenance standard required to meet statutory compliance, incorporating the requirements from the regulations, plus obligations to environment, health and safety and general duty of care. Compliance maintenance requirements are based on maintenance compliance standards AS 1851, AS/ANS 3666.2/.3 and AS/NZS 5149.4. Statutory requirements in individual jurisdictions vary and should be checked to determine local requirements.

An example of this strategy is the maintenance of tyres on a motor vehicle. The tyres are inspected at scheduled services. If abnormal wear is detected, then a tyre rotation and front wheel alignment may be carried out. As tyres near the end of their service life, they are inspected more often to ensure continued safety while achieving maximum life.

Frequency of scheduled task

Tolerance on time scheduled


Omit for no more than one week


Omit for no more than two weeks

Monthly (4-weekly)

One week

Quarterly (3 months/12 weeks)

Two weeks

Half-yearly (6 months/24 weeks)

Three weeks

Annual (12 months/50 weeks)

One month

Biennial (24 months/100 weeks)

One month

Triennial (36 months/150 weeks)

Two months

Table 5.1 – Time tolerance for service frequencies 16


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December 2019 – January 2020

3. Predictive maintenance strategies Predictive maintenance (PdM) strategies include: • Data-driven analytics • Condition monitoring • Reliability-centred maintenance.

3.1 Data-driven analytics In the data-driven analytic approach to predictive maintenance, the physical condition, performance or efficiency of a system is evaluated by monitoring selected digital input data and comparing the actual data received against a defined baseline. Any variance in the two datasets is used to identify the appropriate maintenance intervention. Using a combination of digital monitoring and analytical software algorithms, this process can be automated to a large extent, providing both continuous monitoring and alarm, as well as automated detection and diagnosis. Data-driven analytics is becoming a much more achievable maintenance strategy for many owners because the rapid digitisation of the sector and technology has reduced costs and technical barriers and made the application of the strategy much more accessible. See Figure 5.3.

3.2 Condition monitoring Condition monitoring uses advanced techniques to assess the condition and performance of components so that optimum equipment performance can be sustained. There are many condition monitoring techniques, all with varying levels of applicability to the HVAC&R industry. The important issues when applying condition monitoring are: • Always obtain base readings early in the life of the equipment. It is far easier to interpret changes over time than it is from a single assessment. • Undertake monitoring on a regular basis and plot trends. • Always attempt to get a high signal‑to‑noise ratio for the measured variable. Background vibration, for example, can often mask results. • Always measure at fixed reference points. • Remove all other variables. As far as possible, reset loads and operating conditions to be the same for each measurement. Once the results have been reviewed, maintenance actions are initiated by the trends highlighted by routine or continuous monitoring of the equipment. Condition monitoring for a system or item of plant may be scheduled, continuous or by request. It can be more expensive than other strategies, but there are situations where unplanned downtime cannot be accepted under any circumstances. In these situations, the owner/user has to accept the higher cost of the service contract. On the other hand, reactive maintenance, while being less expensive in terms of contracted maintenance costs, can be surprisingly expensive

HVAC&R Skills Workshop temperature data can be communicated to (and analysed by) the building management and control system, aiding in the early detection of required maintenance and faults.

Self-learning algorithms Cloud or site-based software targeting HVAC&R data

3.3 Reliability centred maintenance

Mobile applications Data, devices and displays

The RCM strategy incorporates elements of the other strategies, but sets itself apart mainly through a process called a failure mode, cause and effect analysis (FMCEA). As the name implies, each element is analysed to estimate its effective service life and to determine indicators for identifying impending failure.

Environmental sensors HVAC actuators and controllers

Monitor energy, occupancy, CO2 , temperature, humidity and indoor air quality meters and data loggers

Building management systems Direct digital controllers

Categories of equipment often exhibit similar failure profiles over time. Electronic components generally follow a “bath tub” profile (see Figure 5.4) in which there is a high level of failure on start-up, then a long period of reliable service followed by a large number of failures as components age. This curve is empirical and can be applied to many systems and plant that are subject to wear and tear.

Buildings and facilities HVAC&R assets – heating, cooling, refrigeration and ventilation

Table 5.3 – Data-driven analytics

The following is a list of the most common condition-based monitoring techniques: Visual, aural and tactile inspection This is the simplest form of condition monitoring and is also the basis of the repair‑on‑condition strategy. Many problems are detected by simple inspection, or with optical aids to assist viewing internal components. Monitoring of process parameters Performance is often a good indicator of the condition of a machine, and can be assessed by monitoring its process parameters, e.g., temperature, pressure, flow rate, etc. Building energy management systems provide an ideal vehicle for the collection and analysis of this information. Vibration analysis Out-of-balance forces can be particularly destructive and increase wear by orders of magnitude. These forces are identified by the amplitude of a vibration signal. The frequency of vibration signals is particularly effective for identifying faults such as cracks and flats in rolling‑element bearings. It is particularly important to establish baseline values and fixed measurement points for vibration analysis. Infrared techniques This is a non-contact technique that measures the temperature of an object on the basis of the infrared radiation received from its surface. It is particularly suited to surveying electrical systems. The simplest devices measure the temperature at a single point, while thermo‑graphic imaging cameras can record an image over an area. Its applications in HVAC&R extend to detecting heat leaks in pipework, ductwork and the exterior of buildings.

need to change the equipment operating conditions. This technique can be effective for slow‑moving or difficult-to-interpret, reciprocating or complex machines where it may be more difficult to use vibration analysis. Leak detection Methods from soap-and-water to ultrasonic and tracer gas techniques can detect minute leaks. This is an essential technique where ozone‑depleting and high global warming potential refrigerants or toxic gases are still in use.

RCM has the potential to reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of building services maintenance, but must be applied appropriately. Experience in the HVAC&R industry has taught us that FMCEA is difficult to apply, particularly to refrigeration equipment.

Corrosion monitoring Corrosion is the greatest enemy of plant and equipment. Early intervention to correct the problem can extend plant life dramatically. Electrical resistance and potential techniques, hydrogen detection, sacrificial coupon and bore holes can all be used to detect and assess the extent of corrosion.

This equipment is manufactured to close tolerances and the internal components operate in an ultra-clean environment, so they are very reliable. The failure of a component such as a reed valve would be identified as a mode of failure, but the frequency of failure would be very low. Age and manufacturing defects would be the identified causes. System failure would be the effect. In this case, predictive maintenance has no advantage over assessment on age. ■

Crack detection Many non-destructive testing methods are available for crack detection. These include dye penetration, flux testing and ultrasonics. Cracks often precede catastrophic failure of a component. Cracks in components such as castings can be halted by drilling a hole at the root of the crack to relieve stress, or by welding them up. Electric current monitoring Frequency spectrum analysis can be used to detect a number of faults on electric motors, including broken rotor bars, static and/or dynamic air gap irregularities, and mechanical imbalance. Continuous bearing condition monitoring Critical plant items such as return air/smoke-spill fan motors may be the subject of continuous bearing condition monitoring as an alternative to scheduled or ad hoc analysis. In continuous bearing condition monitoring, vibration and

Lubricant analysis The condition of lubricants can be analysed to determine its remaining service life, ensuring it is not replaced prematurely or too frequently. More importantly, contaminants such as moisture, dirt and wear particles can indicate impending component failure or the


An example of an RCM initiated maintenance procedure would be lighting replacement in large offices, which is best done in bulk when the lamps are nearing the end of their predicted life. Labour costs are reduced and disruption to the office is minimised.

Rate of component failure

if a failure that could have been prevented by carrying out a relatively easy repair causes the total loss of a piece of equipment.

Early failure

Reliable service period

Age failure


Figure 5.4 – “Bath-tub” failure profile

This month’s Skills Workshop has been taken from AIRAH’s recently updated DA19 – HVAC&R Maintenance.


Next month: Water-cooled condensers December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



Insurance Advice



you vote for your favourite driver over social media. The winner gets extra power during the race. They are gimmicks, but they’ve given fans skin in the game, and engaged viewers all over the world.


For the first time this year we will see official electric world series for car and motorcycle racing. Welcome to the future. Although electric vehicles (EVs) are still a rare sight on Australian roads, the global battle between petrol and electric – if there ever was one – is over. EVs are here to stay.

First, a new car. The Spark-Renault SRT 01E has been replaced by the Gen2. Maximum power has risen from 200kW to 250kW, as has top speed, from about 225kmh to 280kmh.

One sign of this is the introduction of official world series for both electric car and electric motorcycle racing. This month we look at Formula E. Next month we’ll check out its two-wheeled equivalent, MotoE.

Acceleration has also improved – the Gen2 goes from zero to 100kmh in just 2.84 seconds.


Another new feature is the Attack Mode, which gives drivers a 25kW boost if they drive over a special part of the track. If you think that sounds a bit Mario Kart, well, you’re not alone. Formula E has already attracted scorn from the purists for the FanBoost feature, which lets

Most importantly, a larger battery means drivers can now complete the full race distance of 45 minutes plus one lap. Previously, they had to swap cars.

The FIA-sanctioned series began in 2014, so it already has some momentum. But this fifth season, which started in December 2018, has brought major changes.



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December 2019 – January 2020

But what about the noise, or rather the quiet? The lack of roaring petrol engines might take away from the aural experience, but the more neighbourly noise levels allow races to be held in cosmopolitan city locations: New York, Paris, London, Berlin. The fact that the events have a “green” tick also helps. Another selling point has been the calibre of manufacturers. Jaguar, Audi, Nissan and BMW are all involved in some way, and Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have confirmed they will join next season. Given that they’re all using the same car produced by a third party, you could question how involved they really are. And certainly, Formula E at this stage seems to present them with a commercial opportunity more than a technological one. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still holds true, even if you’re not selling the actual race car. Until now the series organisers have been careful to restrict changes to keep the level of R&D and spending down – and to avoid a situation where one maker comes in and dominates, a la Formula 1. But that is changing. And once they are allowed to start developing in earnest, the gloves will really be off. ■

Business Tips


Set up your team’s holidays so that they are not all off for four weeks over the Christmas holidays! And set up an on-call roster with your team to avoid you (or the business owner) getting lumped with all the outside hours work.

Aussie summers can be challenging for AC systems – and even more so for those who install and repair them! Business coach Hugh Bowman offers some tips for the silly season.

The basis for improving the situation is to have a good plan, rather than

An inherent problem with HVAC&R businesses is that they are seasonal. This brings challenges around managing cashflow, staffing, and other aspects of the business. However, there are ways to deal with the large variations in workload. The basis for improving the situation is to have a good plan, rather than just a “suck it and see” attitude. Whether you are working in residential or commercial, service or installation jobs, there are things you can do.

PLANNING Work out how much of a boom you expect. A good start is reviewing your month-by-month financials from last year and comparing them to the past six months. Also, look at the number of service contracts you have compared to last year. Understanding the amount of live quotes you have recently done and quote conversion rate statistics can really help too. Having a workload forecast helps with pricing and negotiations on installation jobs. If you have a lot of irons in the fire, don’t settle for price reductions. Also, be clear about the work that is core business and ideal work for you. Don’t take on work that is less than ideal.

Finally, even if you are busy, don’t stop quoting work. Instead, quote work that can be done when things are quieter. Try and push service and maintenance outside the peak periods.

STAFFING Start recruiting or lining up subbies months before the peak season. It always takes a while to find the right person, and it is the last thing you want to do when you are really busy! Make sure you can deal with the increase in incoming phone calls. A lot of people tell me their phone goes “nuts”, which is code for saying they don’t get to all the calls in a timely manner. Unfortunately, that means the customer is more likely to call someone else. Whether you free up your own time to answer more calls or you arrange for someone else to do it, make sure it happens.

just “suck it and see” attitude

MANAGING MONEY Cashflow can be a problem with an uptick in work. Focus on reducing your “cash gap” by reducing your terms. Part payments at the start of a job or monthly invoicing also help. Try and avoid large purchases near end of month. Prepare for lower cash reserves, too. With a big increase in work, your supplier and labour costs will jump significantly, and if your customers don’t pay promptly, you may find yourself short of cash. If you take on as many of these tips as you can, I am sure you will be two steps ahead of everyone else! If you would like more business tips, send me an email with “More tips please!” in the subject line. ■

Hugh Bowman is a former fridgie who now offers coaching programs, business workshops and business plans through his own company, ActionCoach. You can contact him on 0409 402 474 or visit

December 2019 – January 2020



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Cover Feature

Flag-bearer Clinton Larkings (Industrial Mechanic Millwright) leads the Skillaroos into the opening ceremony.

Source: WorldSkills.

THE FRIDGIE OLYMPICS A refrigeration apprentice from Gympie, Queensland, went on a WorldSkills journey all the way to Kazan, Russia, and returned home with a medal. In the Kazan Arena Stadium, fireworks were exploding, flags were flying, and the crowd was cheering. Two years earlier the stadium had been one of the venues for the FIFA World Cup. Now it was the scene of a very different sort of competition. This was the 45th WorldSkills International Championship. It brought together crowds of more than 250,000 people to watch more than 1,300 competitors from 63 countries competing across 56 different skills – everything from patisserie to plastic die engineering, from floristry to freight forwarding, and from robotics to refrigeration and air conditioning.

was out of this world |

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for the international tournament by flying to Kazan to participate in the Russian national WorldSkills championships.

One of the competitors waiting to enter the stadium for the opening ceremony was refrigeration apprentice Patrick Brennan. For him, this was the end point of a long journey.

During all this he continued working full-time at Tony Stephens Refrigeration in Gympie, and training part-time at Acacia Ridge TAFE under the watchful eye of WorldSkills international training manager and expert Carl Balke, M.AIRAH. In the lead-up to the tournament, Brennan switched to full-time training.

It started more than two years earlier, when Brennan won the WorldSkills Australia regional competition in South West Queensland. From there he went on to the national competition in Sydney at ARBS 2018, where he won gold and became the Aussie champ. Next came gruelling training sessions and a Skillaroos squad camp. Through it all, Brennan kept learning and lifting his game. WorldSkills organised the Global Skills Challenge in Melbourne in April 2019, where Brennan not only won gold, but was Australia’s highest-scoring competitor. And then in May, he experienced the ultimate preparation

The opening ceremony




December 2019 – January 2020

So when he stepped into the stadium for the opening ceremony, he was prepared for the competition. But nothing could prepare him for the scale of the event itself. “The opening ceremony was out of this world,” Brennan says. “The easiest way to explain it was it was like the Olympics, just walking out there with a big flag swinging out the front. We got to stop, turn around and wave to our parents and our experts and all the supporters. It was awesome.”

Cover Feature Carl Balke, M.AIRAH, Patrick Brennan and Noel Munkman, M.AIRAH (left to right).

CELEBRATING SKILLS Carl Balke, M.AIRAH, has been attending the WorldSkills international competitions since 2003 – in St Gallen, Switzerland – and has seen them grow enormously. “Compared to Abu Dhabi (in 2017), Kazan would have been slightly bigger,” Balke says, “but the stadiums we were in and the opening and closing ceremonies were just outstanding. They were spectacular. “People were saying how much it had grown over the years. Every time we just seem to be getting bigger and bigger and more and more professional at what we’re doing. And I know China looked at this year’s and said, ‘Well, if that’s what Russia can do, guess what? We can do better’.”

Source: Adam Lucas.

The other top countries, they basically train full‑time for two years

SKILLS SUPERPOWERS If you think Brennan’s preparation gave him a head start, think again. Some of the larger countries are now treating WorldSkills more and more like the Olympics, and dedicating serious resources to it. “The other top countries, they basically train full‑time for two years. That’s all they do – train for a competition,” says Noel Munkman, M.AIRAH, who was the Australian Skill Competition Manager for refrigeration and air conditioning at Kazan. “Take the Russians. They ran their nationals back in May, and the winner from that didn’t compete this time. He’s going to compete in the next competition, in two years’ time (Shanghai 2021). And for those two years they’ll just train. Korea does a similar thing, Brazil does a similar thing, and China now is into it as well.”

“In the past we’ve done a coolroom or a cabinet or something like that,” says Munkman, who was responsible for designing the project. “But the public just sees a fridgie’s backside sticking out of a cabinet. Here they can actually see progress work being done. They can see we’re making ice in one coil and recovering that heat and heating water up at the same time, so it’s something people can understand.

WorldSkills may be growing, but Balke says the spirit is the same. “In 2003, it was spread across a large area and we had to do a lot of walking, but just to see the machinery and the facilities and the tools and the equipment that were supplied … industry looked at it as a pride thing. There’s prestige in saying we’re helping our future tradespeople, our future skilled people, to show us what they can do with their skills and their abilities.”

“We all know refrigeration is a hidden trade. The general public has no idea what’s involved, so we try and open that door up as well.” For the first time, the main project was blind – competitors didn’t know what they would have to build before arriving. According to Balke, this is aimed at testing underlying knowledge rather than basic mechanical skills. And he says this kind of competition suits the Australian can-do attitude.

And he believes skills competitions such as these deserve just as much attention as big sporting events like the Olympics.

“You know, you quote a job, you turn up, and there’s a beam in the way or there’s a different aspect, but you’ve still got to do the job to the best standard and you’ve still got to do it in a timely manner,” he says.

“Throwing a javelin, yippy doo. Running a two‑hour marathon, yep, that’s fantastic. But being able to do floristry, electrical, refrigeration, construction, patisserie, breadmaking and butchery – this is what we need every day of our lives.”

“We can make it work, we can deal with things not going to plan and still deliver a result that meets all the expectations.”

Proud Australian supporters, including parents Sue and Torren Brennan, cheer Patrick on as the clock counts down.

Balke agrees that it is getting harder to compete with the WorldSkills superpowers. “Quality-wise we’re up there, but there are countries that are full-time training, whereas our guys are pretty much working full-time and training part‑time. We’re becoming amateurs in what has become a very professional competition.” As well as training full-time, the top teams go to extreme lengths to prepare for the event. “The whole Korean team turned their clocks to Russian time two weeks before the event,” says Balke. “They slept, ate, trained, and went to bed in Russian time, so when they flew they had no jetlag.” In other words, Brennan had his work cut out for him.

DOWN TO BUSINESS The refrigeration and air conditioning competition ran over three and a half days. Over that time the 28 competitors had to complete various tasks, including coil-bending speed tests, electrical and refrigeration fault-finding exercises, and a main project: an ice and hot water maker.

Source: Adam Lucas.

December 2019 – January 2020



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Cover Feature The Skillaroos exploring Kazan before the competition started. As a country, Australia placed an incredible eighth in the world overall.

WORLDSKILLS SUPPORTERS The competition itself, and the training that happens before it, requires lots of equipment – and support from wholesalers and manufacturers. “There’s a list of something like 350 individual line items that were required to be sourced from our sponsors for the WorldSkills international project,” says Noel Munkman, M.AIRAH. “And the sponsors were fantastic.” In Australia, Kirby has been supporting WorldSkills for more than 20 years, so the staff were cheering when the results came through from Russia. “As a long-term sponsor of the WorldSkills Australia program, we were delighted by Patrick’s results this year,” says, Kirby Sales and Marketing Manager Brett Hedge, M.AIRAH. “We are extremely proud of our 23-year partnership with WorldSkills Australia and the opportunity it gives us to support apprentices who are part of the program. The establishment of the Kirby Apprentice Fund this year allows us to expand that support to other apprentices as we continue our investment of our future technicians.”

MEDAL MYSTERY As a WorldSkills judge, Balke marks the projects and would normally know the overall results at the end of the competition. But this time, due to ongoing disputes and appeals about some of the tasks, he was in the dark. “I knew Paddy was in the top 10, but not where in the top 10,” he says. “I was hoping in the top half, and I felt that would be a fair result, but I didn’t see the marks of the other experts.” At the closing ceremony, tensions were high. Source: Adam Lucas.


Despite some close calls, by the final day he had moved ahead of some of the early leaders and was ready to show his project to the judges.

Time was tight for all the tasks. And as the stronger competitors started working at a breakneck pace, Brennan felt the pressure.

And then, a make‑or‑break moment. When Brennan turned the system on, the compressor didn’t start.

“The first day was a bit of a shock,” Brennan admits. “I almost questioned myself, like, why is it so hard?” It didn’t help that the competitor next to him seemed to be speeding ahead. “I pipe up a section, solder that together, then lay it on the board, and it’s done. Then I do my next section and you bring three or four sections on the board. But the person next to me had pipes everywhere, all nearly done. I thought he was leaps and bounds in front of me, but he had to still pull it off the wall, solder it and put it back on. I try not to look too much at what they’re doing, but it was a bit of a wake-up, which was good.” Shaking off the early nerves, Brennan got his head in the game, and performed strongly as the competition wore on over the next three days. 22


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“I just looked back and I was like ‘What I have done?’,” says Brennan. “That’s when panic stations almost started, but I kept it together. I isolated everything, tested a few things, looked at my wire diagram and then it hit me: it didn’t have a neutral. It was just heat of the moment, you’re going as fast as you can, and I’d wired one terminal over.” Munkman says it could have easily ended there. “Before Paddy turned his system on, two guys had already turned theirs on and had it running, so he’d have known that. And when his compressor didn’t turn on, that can be a breaking point. If you’re not able to handle pressure, you could totally lose it. But he didn’t. He got in, found the fault, a simple bad connection, and got it going within about 10 minutes.”

December 2019 – January 2020

“It was a nervous wait,” says Brennan. “I’m sitting there and refrigeration comes up and I’ve just crossed my fingers that my name comes up. “And it did. It was unreal.” With a score of 739, Brennan won bronze. Joint gold medals were awarded to Russia’s Akeksandr Leushin and Korea’s JuHwan, who scored 747 and 745 respectively. “For him to get called out on that stage, that just blew me away,” says Balke. “It still brings a giggle, still stands the hairs up on the back of my neck when I talk about it. It’s something that stays with you – you’re part of a young fella’s journey to achieve his best on a world stage. To work full‑time, train part‑time, and come home with a medal is magic.”

DECOMPRESSING Now that the WorldSkills roller-coaster is over, Brennan can get back to the life of a normal fridgie. “My employer, Tony Stephens Refrigeration, was unreal through the whole journey, so I’m mostly trying to give back to Tony.

Cover Feature Patrick Brennan receives his bronze medal.

It still brings a giggle, still stands the hairs up on the back of my neck when I talk about it “To do WorldSkills properly it takes over your life,” says Brennan. “After WorldSkills it was a bit hard to get back into the normal routine. Not doing all that training, not thinking about projects and ways to do things all the time.” Brennan will continue his involvement now as a judge. He is planning on being at ARBS in Melbourne in May 2020 for the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning National Competition. “It’ll be cool to see other people under pressure this time and how they’re handling it,” he says. He’ll also be speaking at events where he will share his story and hopefully inspire other young apprentices to go for WorldSkills gold. “It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s boosted my confidence in the work I do and public speaking. It’s been a great journey.” ■

Source: Adam Lucas.

When the pressure blowtorch was on, Brennan managed to keep his cool.

Source: Adam Lucas.

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation





Australia’s HVAC&R industry gathered together to applaud leading people, projects and products at the 2019 AIRAH Awards.

DMA Engineers and VAE Group – Mater Private Hospital

EXCELLENCE IN HVAC&R RESEARCH Joint winners DeveloptmentWA – Cool Earth, The Vive, Craigie Cool Earth examines the sustainability benefits of geothermal technology over conventional reversecycle air conditioning by comparing the efficiency of the systems in two identical homes in a residential estate in Perth.

Solar Decathlon Team, University of Wollongong – Desert Rose Solar Decathlon House

On November 14 at Doltone House in Sydney, more than 300 people from Australia’s HVAC&R industry – a record attendance for the event – put on their black-tie best for the AIRAH Awards presentation gala. AIRAH president Ian Harwood, F.AIRAH, opened the evening by reflecting on the occasion. “I don’t know of any engineers, contractors, designers, researchers or indeed anyone at all in the HVAC&R industry who sets out to win an award,” he said. “It’s just not in their mindset, which is more attuned to using BIM or CFD, or to calculating set points and dew points.

This Brisbane project involved the replacement of 22 existing AHUs with 25 new AHUs, and the upgrade and/or replacement of mechanical services switchboards, BMS controls and steam equipment.


“And that’s the whole purpose of the AIRAH Awards – it’s our chance to recognise, to elevate and to celebrate a group of people who have always been more about the work than receiving awards for the work.”

Ben Adamson, F.AIRAH As managing director of Refrigeration Engineering International, Ben has actively sought staff from various experiences, nationalities, cultural backgrounds, genders, age and religions.

Winners were announced in 12 categories. Drumroll please … 24


HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

Team UoW’s Desert Rose Solar Decathlon house competed with other teams in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018. The innovative HVAC system they developed assisted the team in winning second place in the overall competition.

AIRAH News EXCELLENCE IN INNOVATION Alinta Energy Geothermal – Fairwater geothermal installation

Fairwater is a Frasers Property Australia community located in Blacktown in Sydney’s west. When completed, it will be the largest geothermal community in the southern hemisphere, with the technology accessible to all 800 homes onsite.

EXCELLENCE IN REFRIGERATION Joint winners Scantec Refrigeration Technologies – Bidfood Mackay Scantec’s low-charge ammonia cold storage solution in the challenging climate of central Queensland is an example of world-leading refrigeration technology.



Shepherd Filters – Disposable kitchen grease filters

Mat Patrick, Stud.AIRAH, Cold Logic

After suffering severe burns in a fire, Jeremy Kronk, Affil.AIRAH, set about developing a wool kitchen grease cover product. Shepherd Filters now counts McDonald’s as a client, and is starting to distribute its filters internationally.

FUTURE LEADER Joint winners Jack Wardale, M.AIRAH In 10 years, Jack’s role has changed from practical tradesman to consulting engineer, providing technical advice and designs for some of the most significant construction projects in Victoria.

James Spears, M.AIRAH

Woolworths Food Group – Woolworths Prestons Supermarket

Spears is one of the founding members of DeltaQ, an energy management consultancy. He helped establish a Canberra office and secured work with the ACT Carbon Neutral Government Team. He also worked on the 2019 NCC.

The Prestons integrated HVAC&R transcritical CO2 system has broken new ground in terms of the use of CO2 in Australia’s hottest climates.



Mat Patrick is a third-year apprentice studying a Certificate III in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at TAFE SA and working at Cold Logic, a specialist in ammonia-based refrigeration systems.

W.R. AHERN AWARD This award goes to the best technical paper by an AIRAH member published in Ecolibrium over the previous year.

Graham Carter, M.AIRAH, “Not so cool roofs”

JAMES HARRISON MEDAL The James Harrison Medal is the highest honour AIRAH can bestow upon an individual.

Paul Cooper, F.AIRAH, University of Wollongong

Brendan Banfield, Stud.AIRAH, University of Wollongong

Banfield was the building services manager of the very successful Desert Rose house, the University of Wollongong (UoW) entry into the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 competition held in Dubai, UAE.

Since Cooper started in the HVAC&R industry, he has dedicated himself to bettering lives through his committed research in roles at the University of Wollongong and involvement with industry organisations such as AIRAH, ASHRAE and ASBEC. His focus is on developing positive societal outcomes through the most efficient and effective engineering solutions to improve the quality of living and working environments for all. ■


Gillies Hall, at Monash University’s Peninsula Campus, is Australia’s largest Passive House building and delivers on Monash University’s ambitious “Net Zero” initiative.

Future Leader

Student of the Year – Higher Education or Research

Student of the Year – Trade

December 2019 – January 2020


Excellence in Innovation

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion


HVAC&R Nation



Around the Nation 1



2 5


Canada in 1993, and uses global insights and best practices to identify and celebrate privately owned and managed companies.


The Queensland government has confirmed details of its new mechanical services licence framework, including the need for Certificate III qualifications to perform nearly all refrigeration and air conditioning work.

“The judges evaluated the strengths of applicants across four key pillars: strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities and innovation, and governance and financials,” says Deloitte’s Natalie Faull.

The Department of the Environment and Energy has released an updated version of Cold Hard Facts, the definitive inventory of Australia’s HVAC&R industry. The 2019 version contains some interesting highlights.

ActronAir prevailed in the HVAC category. Managing director Norman Windell says it is reassuring that the most fundamental areas of their business measure up to stringent international standards.

Sales of small single split systems have softened for the first time since the Cold Hard Facts series began in 2006. The split system market experienced solid annual growth rates of around 5 per cent from 2012 to 2018. In 2017 a record number of 1,258,000 single split systems were sold in Australia. Sales reduced noticeably in 2018 with total sales around 1,158,000 – a year-on-year decline of nearly eight per cent.

Previously, refrigeration and air conditioning work could be performed up to the value of $3,300 without a specific mechanical services licence. From January 1, 2020 it will be illegal to carry out work of this kind, to any dollar value, without the correct refrigeration, air conditioning and mechanical services (limited or unlimited design) licence. The new regulations effectively set a Certificate III qualification (or equivalent) as the prerequisite for this work. The one exception is single‑head split systems. Holders of a Certificate II qualification and a national refrigerant handling licence issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) will still be able install a single head split air conditioning system without a QBCC licence if the value of the work is under $3,300. To help the industry transition, workers will have until December 31, 2021 to meet the licensing requirements for an occupational and site supervisor mechanical services licence. In the interim, these workers will be able to continue to perform mechanical services work without a licence as long as they are employed by an appropriately licensed contractor or a contractor to which an exemption from holding a licence or from prosecution exists under the QBCC Act. From January 1, 2022, all individuals or companies will be required to hold a mechanical services licence.

“This is absolutely essential to enable us as an Australian manufacturer to compete successfully with the major multi-nationals in our industry,” he says. Winners receive coaching from leading business advisers, networking opportunities and key branding and promotional opportunities over a 12-month period. Go to ■

3 JACK HIGH WorldSkills regional competitions are on again for refrigeration and air conditioning apprentices in the lead-up to the national competition in at ARBS in May 2020. For the first time, refrigeration teacher Jack Johansen, Affil.AIRAH, has held a competition for his region. “Since preparing for our competition interest has grown from employers, wholesalers and apprentices alike,” says Johansen. “And I hope our local competition will grow in the future.”

Go to ■

The winner was Jack Doggett from Kingaroy Refrigeration.

2 AWARD FOR ACTRONAIR ActronAir has been recognised in Deloitte Australia’s Best Managed Companies (BMC) awards.

“It was a close competition for the first two categories,” says Johansen, “but Jack made up a lot of ground in the final category which was refrigeration fault‑finding. I would like to congratulate Jack on his win in our regional competition and wish him the best of luck on his WorldSkills journey.”

This is the first year that Deloitte has held the first BMC awards in Australia. The program was established in

As well as taking home the gold medal, Doggett received a Milwaukee heated jacket. ■



HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

Small air conditioning systems are rapidly transitioning to R32. In 2018, R32 systems made up 53 per cent of all pre-charged small air conditioning units imported, an increase from 39 per cent in 2016 and up from effectively zero in 2012. The portion of total electricity consumed by RAC in 2018 was around 24 per cent of all Australian electricity generated. Electricity price increases of more than 30 per cent from 2016 to 2018 have placed significant emphasis on energy‑saving initiatives, particularly with large air conditioning systems in commercial buildings, and refrigeration equipment and plant in the supermarket and cold storage industries. Go to publications/cold-hard-facts-2019 ■

5 SALARY SURVEY RESULTS OUT AIRAH has completed its survey of salaries in the Australian HVAC&R industry, and the mood of respondents is generally upbeat. In total, 491 industry professionals from every state and territory completed the survey. Half of those surveyed have a gross annual base salary of $100,000 or more. Over 10 per cent of survey participants earn $150,000 or more.

Around the Nation 6




AMCA’s Rob Barkley, Hong Tran, Connor Edwards, Ben Dolahenty and Michael Peers (L-R).

Just over 60 per cent of those surveyed say there will be an increase in their pay and benefits over next year Western Australia is the state that is most negative about the possibility of increase in pay and benefits over the next year – 50 per cent say it will decrease or there will be no change.

“If we can buy flowers and fruit out of season and remain at a comfortable 23°C all year round, why not have a snowman in summer?” Go to water ■

Victoria is the state least likely to be negative on pay and benefits over next 12 months – just 30 per cent say it will “decrease” or “no change”.


Just over half (56 per cent) of survey participants describe their own economic prospects over the next 12 months as “excellent” or “good”. Just 9 per cent say their economic prospects are “poor” or “very poor”.

In November, Daikin held a special ceremony to mark 50 years of doing business in Australia.

The full survey was published in the November issue of Ecolibrium and is now available online for AIRAH members. Go to ■

6 FROSTY RECEPTION From early December, Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) will be home to a snowman. Created by leading Swiss contemporary artists and collaborators Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Snowman is part of the Water exhibition. The artwork is an encased water system with controlled cycles of condensation, precipitation and freezing. The snowman itself is constructed from three copper spheres contained behind the transparent glazing of a large freezer. As the frost gradually accumulates, the snowman grows until he needs to be defrosted.

Hosted by Daikin Industries chairman Noriyuki Inoue and Daikin Australia managing director Shaun Uehara, the official ceremony was held at the Sydney Town Hall. It included guest speeches and a message from the Prime Minister delivered by Federal Member for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh, as well as musical performances from Simon Tedeschi, Greta Bradman and James Eggleston. “I would extend my sincere gratitude to all of our customers and suppliers that have supported Daikin over our 50 years of business,” said Uehara. “Without their loyalty and commitment, Daikin Australia would not be the successful company it is today.” ■

8 TOP TAFE TALENT This year TAFE NSW – Sydney Region Refrigeration Section hosted the annual student’s awards night at the Apprentice Restaurant, Ultimo.

His face has to be redrawn each time so that it doesn’t disappear under layers of ice. This also means that the expression changes – he might be frowning one day, smiling the next.

“The event showcases passion, dedication and commitment the students, teachers and industry have towards the HVAC&R trade,” says Roger Beard, M.AIRAH, president of AMCA NSW, which fully sponsored the event. Industry partners Actrol, Airefrig and Stareast International donated student prizes.

“Snowman is comically out of place in subtropical Brisbane,” says the exhibition program. “Many Australians will have never seen a snowman in real life. Yet his presence is no less plausible than the gallery’s year-round air conditioning.”

The refrigeration section celebrated the success of its first indigenous empowerment program designed to provide pathways for indigenous students into the HVAC&R trade. Head teachers Russell Farnham and Grant Swanson were thrilled with the success

David Connolly, Jason Duncan, Affil.AIRAH, and Sam Ryan, Affil.AIRAH (L-R).

of the program, which was run in partnership with AMCA NSW members. In 2020 the Refrigeration Section will expand its operation at St George TAFE Campus with the delivery of targeted programs and courses in the HVAC&R trade. Skills sets and industrydriven training are key focus areas identified by team leader Irfan Hai and the head teachers of refrigeration. The new site will also cater for firstyear apprentices and Certificate II in Engineering students, along with additional training sponsored by industry partners. ■

9 RELIABLE RELATIONSHIP Reliable Controls has announced a new addition to its Australasian dealer network: Rycon Electrical Services. Based in Sydney, Rycon directors Sam Ryan, Affil. AIRAH, and David Connolly have more than 20 years’ experience in the industry. They pride themselves on offering a “holistic service” with an entirely in-house team that provides building automation, system optimisation and mechanical electrical services including switchboard design and manufacturing. The deal was struck after an exacting assessment process. “All potential Reliable Controls dealers must meet the high-quality standards of our Q-Factor qualifying process for their application to proceed,” says Jason Duncan, Affil.AIRAH, the Australasian Regional Sales Manager for Reliable Controls. “Standout elements of the Rycon submission were the quality and detail contained in their business plan. The quality of their technical documentation, the modern streamlined and cost-effective processes they have in place are some of the finest I have seen. I know this will be a great sustainable relationship.” Rycon is installing Reliable Controls building automation solutions at the Surry Hills Vertical School, Phoenix Art Gallery and Castlecrag Hospital. Go to ■

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



Cool Tech

BELIEVE THE HYPE Is hyperloop technology the answer to our transport woes? Imagine a future in which transport for goods and people alike is possible in pods that whoosh through low-pressure tubes at nearly 1,000kmh.

The tech itself was conceived by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2013, with Branson coming on board as an investor in 2017.

160km apart. Mooted travel between the cities via hyperloop would take 35 minutes, versus the three and half hours it takes now via car.

Such a future might not that be that far away, according to Sir Richard Branson, whose company Virgin Hyperloop One is one of several companies competing to develop the technology.

According to Reuters, last month the US-based company issued a request for proposals from states, governments and academic institutions to develop a “Hyperloop Certification Centre”.

“This is a significant milestone,” says Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder of the announcement, “and the first of many important steps toward bringing hyperloop to the masses.”

If successful, they believe hyperloop technology could be a viable alternative to trains and aircraft.

This would test the infrastructure, hasten development and sort out safety and regulatory issues.

Go to ■

Having operated a test site in Las Vegas since 2017, Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to complete a 10km test track by 2025. Plans are afoot for the first commercial hyperloop in 2029, with the location yet to be finalised. One loop that has been discussed is between the Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune, which are

Smoko with . . .

Name: Linda McDonald Company: Coral Air ant Occupation: Design consult ut working in HVAC&R? What’s the best thing abo market mostly, I am always As I work in the residential ple, which I love. meeting with lots of new peo

d in the industry? How long have you worke 16 years. sly not on the tools, Favourite tool: I’m obviou measure. but I do love my laser tape HVAC&R industry, If you didn’t work in the uld be doing? what do you think you wo I would love to be an If I wasn’t in air conditioning, ustry I’ve always had an interior designer. It’s an ind interest in. nt has been What’s the happiest a clie I helped a customer with your work? Recently, his air conditioning. come up with a solution for what some others had It was a different option to a lot of internal pipework. d come up with and it avoide ult. He was thrilled with the res



HVAC&R Nation



uld Dream car: Mazda MX5 wo ger lon no I en wh be nice, maybe t. sea car d need a chil es. Dream holiday: The Maldiv Favourite smoko snack: . Can’t live without my coffee What did you listen to on the way to work today? The Kyle and Jackie O show. When I’m not working I’m… Spending time with my beautiful little daughter.

December 2019 – January 2020







A guide to


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or territory 9







HVAC&R safety – an essential guide

WHS and OH&S regulations have a big impact on the HVAC&R industry and its stakeholders. With this in mind, AIRAH has published the Guide to Model WHS Law in Australia for the HVAC&R Industry. The guide sheds light on the ins and outs of regulations. And it helps provide an understanding about specific WHS issues and challenges that our industry members encounter in their work, in addition to the general duties assumed by employers and supervisors. Indeed, the guide outlines very clearly where individual responsibilities in the industry reside. AIRAH’s aim in publishing the guide is to raise awareness of legal responsibilities so that those onsite can safely install, maintain and operate HVAC&R equipment.

Buy a copy now at

December 2019 – January 2020



HVAC&R Nation



The Lighter Side This month’s Lighter Side brought to you by:

Ahead of the pack APAC Commercial HVAC AC

Visit for more information







“Thought you might like this,” says Dave from Central Queensland. “Found it on a split ducted system – return air run straight through a roof truss. We’re in the tropics so the timber had started to rot from condensation.” ■


Daniel from Perth topped last month’s back-to-front condenser with this back‑to-front install. “The client complained the aircon never works in summer,” he says, “and the storeman is always hot when it runs!” ■


Regular contributor Tammy from Gracemere, Queensland, sent in this beauty: an air conditioner at 90 degrees. “Surprisingly the only fault found was the capacitor,” she says. ■


Nathan was called out to investigate why this unit in a Melbourne café was struggling to keep things cool. ■


Maybe they only had enough rope to hang one unit. Thanks to Brad from Darwin for sending in this pic. ■

HAVE YOU COME ACROSS SOMETHING SCARY, UGLY OR JUST PLAIN FUNNY? If your entry is deemed the monthly winner, a 700ml bottle of Jim Beam will be on its way to your door. Please include a postal address with your entry. Entrants must be 18 or over. Send your hi-res (>500KB) photos to Editor, Mark Vender at



HVAC&R Nation



December 2019 – January 2020

Ahead of the pack

APAC Commercial HVAC

• Tailored flexibility for all commercial & industrial projects • Energy efficient operation • Low installation cost • Low noise As populations increase and become more urbanised, the demand for trusted, innovative HVAC cooling and heating solutions are greater than ever. Engineered and built in Australia, the industry-leading apac units are ready for new developments and are perfectly suited to replace existing apac units nearing the end of their life cycle. The new apac ranges are manufactured to superior standards, using the highest quality materials and components. Fully MEPS compliant and Quality ISO 9001 certified, apac is truly ahead of the pack.

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December 2019 – January 2020



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Cover large area with flexible ducting configuration

Ideal alternative solution to central plant

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HVAC&R Nation December 2019  

The December 2019 issue of HVAC&R Nation.

HVAC&R Nation December 2019  

The December 2019 issue of HVAC&R Nation.