Fan coils

Innovation and consolidation

Jon Freeman, product manager at Ability Projects, discusses the advantages of addressing the balance between consolidating current product ranges and the innovation of new technologies and products


he speed and sheer volume of new technologies being introduced into our daily lives is relentless, as is our apparent appetite to engage with the latest technology or service offering. When I’m asked what new products I’m working on, the answer that’s most expected is “the next big thing”. People expect you to be focusing on a major new product or technology, and more often than not simply don’t consider ongoing improvement to existing products. The reality is that it’s vital for a product’s success to question its design and functionality on a continual basis, otherwise we end up with the dreaded statement “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”. An excellent example of this is Twitter. Until a

couple of years ago, the character limit was set to 140. You would be forgiven for thinking a vast amount of research had gone in to deciding this very specific amount, whereas the truth behind this is significantly different. Popular theory puts this limit down to Friedhelm Hillebrand who, whilst working on the original concept of SMS messaging back in 1985, determined the optimum character amount was 140-160 per message. Whether you believe the romantic notion that this was determined by Hillebrand reading postcards from friends to calculate the required number, or whether it simply correlated to the amount of data available, the fundamental fact remains the same – Twitter character limits were determined due to a decision made some 20+ years prior to its introduction and remained for a further 10+ years. With the introduction of continuous improvement schemes, it’s important to consider each product as more than just the sum of its parts. Each component needs to be evaluated to ensure it is still effective and operating to its optimum level. By maintaining this uncompromising approach to seeking marginal gains, it’s possible to make significant improvements to existing products which can, in turn, lead to better solutions and considerable cost savings for customers.


Since our merger with Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, we have invested heavily in our R&D and test facilities. Utilising this capability, we have

20 February 2019 EVO 270 Plus Range

A high performance chassis fan coil unit Suited applications: Commercial, hotel and residential projects Key features: • Reduced footprint for duty point • Low noise levels • Improved efficiency • Extensive range of units • Ease of installation • Many control and connection options


Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing desire for exposed fan coil units. Our spaces are becoming increasingly design-led, but good design does not always marry well with maximum performance. Fan coils are installed to bring occupant comfort to a room and yet, when used in an exposed services environment, they often let down the visual aesthetic. It’s not surprising really, as most products were originally designed to be installed above a ceiling.

Jon Freeman, product manager at Ability Projects

conducted in excess of 6,000 sound tests to evaluate and optimise our existing product ranges, making substantial improvements to unit performance, and subsequently our commercial competitiveness. It was this process of extensive testing and range

consolidation and enhancements that led us to release the new EVO 270 Plus range of high performance FCUs.

Based on the hugely popular EVO 270 range, the

Plus takes the gains seen on the standard range and introduces a new fan for even better performance. Increased airflow at comparable noise levels allows us to reduce the unit size in most applications, and the improved energy efficiency means specific fan powers (SFPs) are also significantly lower. The introduction of this product has also seen customers realising savings in excess of 10%.

Whilst assessing the specific challenges of noise, installation and aesthetics, it became apparent that by utilising a fundamentally different type of fan, already tested heavily for use within other products, we may be able to bring a new approach to an increasingly desirable application. In collaboration with one of our fan manufacturing partners, many months of dedicated R&D led to a breakthrough in performance not seen before in this industry This new motor/impeller application is more efficient than traditional FCU fans, and has a different shape to its sound spectrum, allowing an increase in available duty for a given noise level in a reduced footprint. By optimising the internal configuration of the fan coil, we have been able to produce a series of units which can work with increased chilled water and reduced hot water temperatures, whilst reducing environmental impact and running costs through further reductions in energy consumption.

Giving the aesthetics due consideration during the initial design phase has resulted in a chassis that looks more symmetrical. With the controls and

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