This equipment design case involves a large scale industrial cooling solution that was employed by an agricultural producer in order to provide cooling to several essential areas. The units, which had been purchased from a leading provider of industrial cooling solutions, were all brand new, top of the line models. Despite assurances that the units relied on galvanized materials and other safeguards against corrosion, the units began to fail one after another after only a brief service life. It was discovered that the units were leaking refrigerant due to excessive vibrations, and had numerous failures all linked to corrosive damage. It was alleged that the units were defectively designed and manufactured.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have knowledge of the crucial role that commercial air conditions play in agricultural production and growth process?
- 2. Are you able to opine on how unreliable air conditioning units can result in the loss of crops and in turn profits?
- 3. Please explain your experience in the HVAC industry?
Expert Witness Response E-009706
Agricultural products need their environment within specific temperature and humidity ranges for proper growth. Air conditioning units that are designed correctly for safely and correctly handling the pressures, temperatures and environmental loads of which they will be exposed to and what they will need to control is crucial. The systems have rotating equipment (e.g. fans) that are crucial to be aligned (i.e. rotational shaft alignment) to avoid vibrations that will emanate throughout the units and cause structural damage. This vibration, if not prevented, will become steady and exponentially result in greater damage. The continued vibration on the rotating equipment can lead to damage and leaks of the closed-circuit pressured refrigeration system. The design of the system with rotating equipment that is mounted and aligned correctly should run smoothly and not try to “walk”, “move”, or “vibrate” the components of the air conditioning system. The units should have specific maintenance procedures of how to clean and sustain it in safe and good operating order. These procedures come from the manufacturer and must be implemented by a qualified maintenance servicer. It warranty work is done on the units, they must be done by a qualified servicer using the appropriate (i.e. precision tools) needed. The units need to be correctly charged with refrigerant to correctly operate and avoid vibrations and excessive condensation or freeze up issues. The units shall correctly drain any water dehumidified as condensation correctly and not cause drain pan backups or heavy icing that can lead to warpage, vibrations, and damage to the units refrigeration coils (that can lead to leaks).