Energy-Saving Seals for Ventilation Systems
Close collaboration proved key when ventilation company Rasch AB experienced issues with the seals on one of its damper products. 'At Trelleborg, we aim to work as part of our customers' product development process, so that the best results can be achieved,' says Peter Somvall, business developer for sealing products at Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operation.
Today's ventilation systems do not only have to manage large airflows to be able to ventilate buildings that are tightly sealed. In a time of increasing climate and environmental awareness, intelligent control systems are becoming more common, making it possible to steer the airflow toward where it is needed or away from where it is not needed. In doing so, energy consumption can be minimized – an increasingly important requirement for real estate firms and property managers, many of whom want to become environmentally certified according to the international BREEAM standard.
An important element in achieving the goal of low energy consumption in the building's ventilation system involves the use of dampers with moving parts operated by motorized control systems. Current trends show more and more of these units being installed in modern buildings than ever before.
This is where the Swedish company Rasch AB comes in. Originally a family company started by three brothers in the 1930s, Rasch AB has grown to become one of the country's leading producers of different types of ventilation products, including fireproofing and air dampers for installation in everything from nuclear power plants and mines to schools, offices and shopping centers.
Installations in Well-Known Construction Projects
The company's customers include major Swedish construction companies and its products are installed in several recent well-known construction projects in Sweden, such as Mall of Scandinavia in Solna and the Southern Link road tunnel in Stockholm.
When Rasch AB was in the process of product development a few years ago to re-design one of the company's larger louvre dampers to make it lighter and smaller, a problem arose: the existing seals made it too heavy, preventing the electric motors from closing the louvres correctly.
'We called our contact at Trelleborg, Peter Somvall, to see if we could work out a solution to the problem,’ says Anton Gustafsson, product developer at Rasch AB.
Trelleborg helped with Product Development
Carina Ström, responsible for purchasing at Rasch AB agrees,
'We had good dialogue and collaboration from the very start, and Trelleborg has helped us a great deal throughout the process,' she says.
Designers Visited the Production Facility
Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operations team studied Rasch AB's problem inside and out. Peter Somvall, business developer for sealing profiles at Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operation, brought a designer and a product developer with him when visiting the factory to speak with the company's product developers and assemblers.
'We realized very quickly that it was a design problem, not a material problem,' explains Peter Somvall.
Then a process described by everyone involved as 'close cooperation’ followed, during which Anton Gustafsson and his colleagues visited Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operation manufacturing site.
Collaboration on Sketches and Prototypes
Our collaboration was extremely smooth from day one,' says Anton Gustafsson. 'Peter and his colleagues came to us, studied and examined, took samples, simulated and analyzed, and came up with a sketch that we later discussed and modified. As part of the process, we also developed a prototype that we tested here in our manufacturing site.'
Peter Somvall stresses how it was important for Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operation team to listen to the assemblers; the key to achieving a successful product is finding a solution that is extremely easy to assemble.
'We know that it is on the construction site itself that costs develop. For this reason, it is important for us to find easy-to-assemble solutions that can be produced in large volumes while observing strict tolerance requirements.'
Important Supplier of Seal Solutions
Trelleborg’s seals and profiles operation has been an important supplier of sealing profiles for Rasch AB's products, and Peter Somvall says that the company has learned many lessons during the development of the large louvre damper.
'It has affected the entire product assortment at Rasch AB,’ he explains. ‘Thanks to our new solution, all the company's dampers are now easier to operate.’
Text: Per-Ola Knutas