Daikin has a history of leadership in the field of Inverter technology, which is available for scroll, centrifugal and screw compressors. In fact, Daikin have been pairing up its Single Screw compressors with air-cooled Inverter technology since 2004, and in 2013 has introduced a new development for Screw Compressors – the refrigerant-cooled Inverter – which is available for centrifugal compressors as well since 2019.
Daikin refrigerant-cooled Inverter
Daikin refrigerant-cooled Inverter is in-house produced, in Italy, by the Power Electronics Division in Vicenza, where Inverter is designed and assembled. It differentiates from other VFD types for being directly integrated in the compressor’s body. This feature, in fact, allows the electronics of the Inverter to be cooled by the refrigerant in the chiller’s circuit.
Daikin Power Electronics Division
Daikin has managed to introduce this important solution in its HVAC portfolio thanks to an important investment made in 2018. This investment has allowed to open the Power Electronics Division dedicated to the development of Inverter technology for Daikin Screw and Centrifugal compressors.
In this article we want to share information and details about this project through the words of Fabio Illetterati, General Manager of the Power Electronics Division at Daikin Applied Europe.
He has been CEO of Italian companies like MACNO and TDE MACNO spa, which reached a turnover of over 16 million euros, producing over 10,000 converters / year with powers ranging from a few kW up to 10 MW, for different sectors ranging from the automation sector to alternative energies. He joined Daikin Applied Europe in 2018, becoming General Manager of the Power Electronics Division at Daikin Applied Europe.
Fabio, in 2018 Daikin Applied Europe decided to invest in the opening of a new plant and in the acquisition of a team of professionals dedicated to the development of Inverter technology for Daikin Screw compressors, which are also developed and produced in-house. Can you tell us about this project, about the goals for the short the long term, and about the results achieved so far?
“Daikin caught signals from the market before other players did. The need for greater efficiency of the compressors and the increased attention on energy savings, has pushed Daikin to consider the in-house development of Inverter technology strategically important for the company. This is allowing to offer a complete package of solutions, not only for screw compressors, but also for centrifugal compressors, with great advantages in terms of reliability and cost”.
Skills & Expertise required
What is required to a team like yours in terms of skills in order to achieve the goals set by Daikin?
“First of all, dedicated technical skills both from a hardware and software design perspective. We are required to provide excellent engineering solutions, both from the electronics and the mechanical perspective, in order to match the needs of integration in the compressors. Also, teamwork is very important to achieve technical goals and reliability goals according to a complex schedule which takes account of development but also production times”.
The cornerstones of Daikin Inverter technology
Inverter is a key technology for Daikin. What is the company’s approach to developing this fundamental component? What are the cornerstones of Daikin Inverter technology?
“The three fundamental aspects in the development of Daikin Applied Europe inverters are: cost-effectiveness, reliability and performance. The market asks for more and more competitive solutions, which can guarantee great reliability and with excellent performance in terms of control, stability and efficiency. It is not easy to balance all these expectations, as reliability is usually obtained by oversizing components, which makes the solution more expensive. Also, with the integration of the inverter in the compressor there are aspects such as vibrations and mechanical constraints that need to be addressed. Therefore, we need to find the right solution in terms of sizing, still ensuring great reliability. We do that by working on many different levels – the design, the suppliers, constantly optimizing the production process, performing many tests and finally getting as much feedback as possible from the field (industry 4.0)”.
A few thought about recent achievements and future developments
Can you tell us about the developments that have taken place in these years and maybe give us your point of view on what future direction will be in the development of the Inverter technology?
“We have been working to make our Inverter a robust solution on different levels: the thermal level, the mechanical, the electrical and the electronic. Daikin Inverters are designed to optimize the heat dispersion of the power components, using the coolant running in the compressor – the refrigerant.
This has allowed a significant reduction in the overall size, differently from more traditional suppliers who use air cooling solutions, with easily understandable consequences from an engineering perspective.
In the future, there is going to be a need for more compact solutions, so we will probably have smaller components. Also, the use of Low Harmonic solutions will be increasingly required. And the Industry 4.0 will be more and more important to remotely monitor the various systems, to understand how the product is performing and to be able to always adjust the setting remotely. So, we will see and increased request for predictive maintenance systems that will allow significant savings for customers”.
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