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AHUs, FCUs post strong market gains

To maintain the upward trajectory, though, there is a strong-felt need for structured preventative maintenance schedules, among other aspects, with an eye on power consumption and indoor air quality…

| | Apr 16, 2019 | 1:22 pm
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Faisal Shaikh

Approximately 5,500-7,000 air-handling units (AHUs) and 200,000-250,000 fan-coil units are sold in the UAE every year. This comes from Faisal Shaikh, General Manager, Clima Uno Air Conditioning. He says that the figures with regard to the sale of the units have been steady over the last 2-3 years.

T R Ganesh

T R Ganesh, General Manager, Blueair, Middle East and Africa, pointing to how AHUs and FCUs come under the scope of air purification, agrees with Shaikh that the overall air treatment industry is growing, not only in the UAE but also in the Middle East region. He puts the value of the air purification industry at USD 80 million in the Middle East. Overall, the air purification market in the Middle East, he says, is likely to experience growth of approximately 17% on a year-on-year basis. “The air purification equipment market in the Middle East is expected to touch USD 100 million by the year 2021,” he adds.

Suraj Kumar

There are others who contest the market figures provided, saying there is no structured way of estimating market size. The fact remains, though – the air treatment industry is on a growth trajectory. To maintain this growth, though, industry representatives say, there is a need to focus on specific aspects, such as the air filtration market. Suraj Kumar, Technical Manager, Air Solutions, LG Electronics Gulf, says: “Maintenance of such [air filtration] systems is crucial and necessary for the optimum functioning of equipment and for appropriate energy consumption.” Maintenance and operation of HVAC systems in commercial buildings, he adds, has traditionally been carried while complying with statutory requirements for health and safety. “Due to short-term commercial pressures,” he says, “the lowest tender price submission from maintenance contractors is often accepted, with little consideration given to long-term value for money.” Therefore, Kumar says, the opportunities for achieving energy-efficiency gains and lifecycle costs are subjects that are often neglected.

Darren Naicker

Darren Naicker, Sales Director, Filters Division, Camfil Middle East, also stresses on maintenance as having a key role to play in the smooth operation of an HVAC system, including what Kumar describes as working to lower energy consumption. He says: “Without timely maintenance, the system will suffer pressure drop, resulting in increased energy consumption and a compromise on IAQ (indoor air quality).” By monitoring the pressure drop, he says, all filters installed in the system will have a reduced energy consumption and an improved IAQ. Shaikh adds that proper maintenance plays a key role in the delivery of clean air. He says: “Condensation tends to happen across the coil, and the drain pan is always expected to be wet and damp, which then also leads to poor IAQ.”

Jatin Sachdeva

Pointing to preventive maintenance as one solution to the problem, Naicker says: “Preventive maintenance must be arranged in order to ensure that the equipment installed functions in accordance to the manufacturer’s operating standards.” Echoing the thought and stressing on the importance of preventive maintenance, Kumar says: “Having a preventive maintenance schedule will give tangible returns and will also add to the life of a system.” Additionally, he says, it lowers energy and repair bills. Naicker adds that as a rule of thumb, the time spent on an AHU for preventive maintenance must be a minimum of 15 minutes every month. “We see that this is not the case, as most customers consider the time spent cleaning filters as preventive maintenance, which is incorrect,” he says. The best practice, Naicker suggests, is to replace the filter after it reaches its final pressure drop, which will ultimately increase efficiency. Shaikh highlights that within a preventive maintenance programme, ASHRAE standard 180-2018 can be used for inspection in commercial buildings, while ASHRAE standard 62.1-2016 can be used to check for ventilation and acceptable IAQ.

Jatin Sachdeva, General Manager, Au Pure IAQ Solutions, says there are additional aspects to the air treatment market that deserve attention. He says: “What we need is minimum IAQ standards, maintenance protocols and specifications, more cost-effective maintenance options and disruptive design solutions.” These, he says, in addition to authorities encouraging a regime that allows for adopting new technologies and design approaches.

Staying on a growth trajectory, representatives agree, is not easy. It requires constant intervention that furthers the cause of energy efficiency and IAQ

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