Are you looking for a cooling tower manufacturer to replace your current cooling tower when perhaps you can consider just repairing it as well? Replacing the entire cooling tower versus repairing them is something most people don’t know a lot about, and that also explains why it is not always the go-to option.
To better understand this very detailed, technical space of cooling towers we sat down with the owners of FlowMatrix, a 100% Australian owned and operated company specialising in the inspection, repair, maintenance, and installation of cooling towers for commercial and industrial premises throughout Australia.
Darren Driscoll Jason Christensen and Landon Morley together have over 65 years of invaluable experience in this very niche space.
The outcome of our interview was an invaluable treasure chest of rich information that only experts like Darren Jason and Landon could possibly know about, where they shared their knowledge around all types of cooling towers, cooling tower manufacturers, new installations against repairs, some tips and great advice.
Here is what we discovered.
So it seems that there are not any companies here in Australia that actually manufacture all components for a complete cooling tower, condenser, fluid cooler, such as the drift eliminators, the fill pack, the air intake splash louvres, with most cooling towers being imported as parts from overseas and assembled in Australia.
The two major American cooling tower manufacturing companies in Australia are BAC (Baltimore Air Coil) and Evapco but the manufacturing is mostly carried out in America and Asia
New cooling towers imported from overseas include Evapco, BAC, Tower Thermal, Shinwa, Marley, SPX, Budge Ellis, and there are old cooling towers that are not being made anymore such as Superchill, Aquacool, Muller, Coolboy, timber Lakeside, and Temcel.
Now where it gets a bit complex is that there are many companies that bring in parts from overseas, but that then do the assembly here in Australia for a variety of reasons such as logistics, freight, container sizes, cost of labour to manufacture in Australia, lack of local parts suppliers or preferred overseas suppliers
What are the best cooling tower manufacturers?
While we all want to support the local Aussie cooling tower brands it is not possible so best to support the locals that do assembly and site cooling tower installation.
The best option is to look for a company like FlowMatrix who offer the assembly work, the site installation, the mechanical maintenance, sell locally available parts and have a service team to back up their work particularly for an installation or repair job.
In some cases getting parts from overseas and then putting them together onsite can be a better option that can save time and money, however Darren stresses that “each case must be assessed individually, and appropriate planning should be implemented that ticks all boxes including budget, time, efficiency, health bylaws, objectives, and of coarse longevity or sustainability”
Also consider what the new cooling tower is made of, steel or fibreglass and consider the effects of corrosion, cracks, water leaks, chemical treatment. You may need to consider having a modular designed cooling tower so that corroded basins or walls can be coated or easily sealed. Fibreglass cooling tower that develop cracked or leaking seams, leaking legs will need to be repaired so always consider access platforms and ladders to carry out these repairs and rebuilds
Some cooling tower manufacturers are better suited to industrial applications as they are designed to cope with dirty or grey water. Other manufactures have high performance package cooling towers that are best for commercial city buildings and offices.
When should you consider installing a new cooling tower over repairing it?
There are a few occasions when you would only install a brand-new cooling tower and these include
- New building sites, anyplace where Cooling towers can be considered at the planning stage.
- Where there is easy access to get and out
- Where all essential plumbing and access platforms can be built to house the best cooling tower.
Process of cooling tower installation
Step 1: Staging area cooling tower layout
Step 2: Centre section assembly
Step 3: Assembled unit coming off low loader truck
Step 4: Installation complete
Also worth noting, Jason mentioned that installing new cooling towers today can be risky if people install them incorrectly. “We have recently seen some new cooling tower installations done by refrigeration and air conditioning contractors, where brand new cooling towers only running for a couple of weeks not installed properly, became damaged with a cracked basin. This resulted in about $4K dollars in damage that we had to come in and fix”.
Many cooling towers installed do not have access platforms and ladders so they are not compliant with State Government Regulations.
Repairing Cooling Towers:
In many cases it makes sense to strongly consider repairing and replacing parts on your cooling tower rather than consider a full replacement.
Repairing a Cooling Tower against replacing one:
- Is much faster, new cooling towers generally take around 10-12 weeks to come into the country, then another 10-12 weeks to install vs 2-4 weeks to repair.
- Is much less expensive than replacing the entire Cooling Tower, new installations generally cost 2 times more.
- The only real option to take where restrictions for getting into a site inhibits any new large-scale installations.
- Not a viable option as there is no such thing as take out and drop in a new one. New models mean new designs and sizing, plus access systems, drainage, power, and other essential infrastructure must be changed, taking time and costing money to do so.
- Modern Brentwood cooling tower parts that FMX distribute and install in Australia are superior to the old OEM parts that were installed many years ago, so an upgrade will increase the cooling performance of a rebuilt tower.
- Where by-laws have since changed, repairing is the only option.
Install a new cooling tower or replace the parts in it.
Darren also made the following point, “the smart thing to do is to call up a company like FlowMatrix and get them to give you two prices”, that is.
- A price for full repair and the replacement of cooling tower parts
- A price for a fully new cooling tower installation.
Getting quotes for both allows a company to check both options, to see what is available and to then see which way stacks up best for them.
Jason also told us that life expectancy is also a key factor when considering a new or replacement of a cooling tower. “Where proper maintenance is provided on a regular basis, replacement of parts, can last upwards of 20 years”
FlowMatrix repairs all types of Cooling Towers:
The good news here is that FMX can install new cooling towers or work on replacement parts to all types of cooling towers.
On top of this, FMX is not limited to working on only one type of tower. With all their 65 years of working in this space, they have parts and data sheets for nearly every type of cooling tower in Australia, meaning that they can support parts and repairs for each of them and right across the country.
Lastly, here are a few tips from Darren Jason and Landon to anybody that finds themselves entertaining the prospect of installing a new cooling tower, against rebuilding it.
- Always get two quotes, to replace or to repair your cooling tower.
- Always get an inspection price for a repair regardless of the situation
- Always get advice from experts in this space who build and install cooling towers as their primary business.
- Maintenance is very important as this can save you thousands and lots of time.
- Understand the Australian and State Government regulations for cooling towers not just from a building code aspect, but also for the ongoing maintenance, RMP’s, health risk, safe access and Legionnaires Disease control
- Always ensure that your cooling tower manufacturer complies with AS/NZS 3666 and not just an international standard that is not recognized in Australia
- Cooling tower fans motors shafts bearings can be very difficult to get in Australia if they fail, so make sure that the parts supplied with a new manufactured cooling tower are available of the shelf in Australia
If you need a quote for repairs versus new installations, or some experienced and honest advice, please feel free to contact us.
We love helping people and providing them with solutions.