Buderus prepares to grow larger market

Buderus, Bosch, boilers, CHP, heat pumps, renewable energy, Solar thermal
A full hand of aces — Geoff Hobbs.

Geoff Hobbs leapt at the opportunity to develop a market for large specified systems for Buderus boilers in the UK, as he explained to Ken Sharpe.

If you are asked to name companies that supply large boilers to the UK market, Buderus is unlikely to be on your list. As Geoff Hobbs, business development director with the company in the UK, says, ‘Buderus is not a name that comes to mind for big boilers in the UK; it tends to be associated with smaller ones.’ And it is also the case that the UK is not currently a significant market for the company’s range of large boilers — which include condensing boilers up to 800 kW, cast-iron sectional boilers up to 1 MW and steel boilers from 650 to 19.2 MW.

All the boilers are fully modulating and capable of interfacing with a building-management system. An economiser can be added to steel boilers to provide condensing operation with a return temperature below 50°C.

Finally, biomass is covered through the company’s association with Econergy.

That lack of awareness is about to change, for Geoff Hobbs joined the company last autumn with a remit to develop the market for industrial and commercial heating, hot water and renewable products. Commercial- and industrial-scale CHP is also part of his remit. He summarises his next market target as large specified systems — which within the company has the jargon LSS.

The necessary preparations for developing sales of the company’s products for the commercial and industrial sectors are al lin place, but the Buderus name itself is about to vanish from the scene — to be replaced with Bosch, well known for its huge range of interests and which took over Buderus in 2005.

Since then Bosch has developed an interest in CHP, with the acquisition of Kohler and Ziegler, two very well known CHP companies, in 2008.

Bosch also makes solar-thermal tubes and offers badged gas-fired absorption-cycle heat pumps with a heating output of 38 kW and capable of being cascaded in installations comprising up to six units.

The transition to Bosch will be most noticed by those familiar with the distinctive blue finish of Buderus’s large boilers, to be replaced by silver and red. Geoff Hobbs tells us that the new colours will begin to appear in July and be fully established by September.

Geoff Hobbs has over 20 year’s experience at senior level in the HVAC industry. Before joining Buderus, he had a long involvement with water-heating specialist Rinnai, including eight years as managing director establishing the company in the UK and Europe.

Despite already having had a long career in the industry, Geoff Hobbs was eager to accept the new challenge offered to him.

He speaks with enthusiasm of the ‘fantastic portfolio of products’ and also of the ‘fabulous new training centre’ at the company’s UK headquarters at Worcester. That training centre is supported by two others at Bradford and West Thurrock.

He also has the support of a team of specialists in the various technologies that was brought together at the beginning of this year. And finally, he believes that the Bosch name will be a tremendous benefit.

‘We definitely have a momentum established,’ says Geoff Hobbs. ‘The team is in place and comfortable with the products. We have not penetrated this market before because we did not have the backup to support specifiers and contractors.’

Spearheading Buderus’s campaign to increase awareness of its products and capabilities and develop skills in specifying and installing them is the impressive dedicated training centre at Worcester.

With products available to accommodate the requirements of new and refurbishment projects, the company is now working on establishing a network of accredited installers for CHP and larger boilers in response to the market requirement for total solutions embracing the supply of products and their installation.

Spearheading the company’s campaign to increase awareness of its products and capabilities and develop skills in specifying and installing them is the impressive dedicated training centre at Worcester. This 400 m2 facility cost £1.5 million to build and equip and provides authentic training and trouble-shooting experiences for contractors and consultants. One room features working products from the Buderus range.

One feature is an area with a life-size single-storey building with a commercial solar heating system — complete with a high-level scaffold walkway to provide the experience of working with this equipment at height.

Elsewhere there is an operational gas-powered CHP unit with thermal store and an electrical output of 20 kW and a heat output of 34 kW. It is based around a VW Golf GTI engine with an operational life of 44 000 running hours before it is replaced and reconditioned for another unit.

Much larger CHP units are also available — up to 240 kW electrical and 374 kW of heat. They use MAN engines powered by natural gas and offer flow/return temperatures of 90/70°C. Heat is extracted from the engine block and from exhaust gases. There is also the option to condense exhaust gases to recover more heat.

CHP units can be remotely monitored for servicing requirements such as replacing spark plugs and topping up or changing engine oil.

A completed CHP project in the UK has three 140 kW(e) units in parallel to serve a factory with a lot of heat processes such as washing castings at high temperatures — so there is a demand for heat throughout the year.

In developing a market for large specified systems in the UK, Geoff Hobbs looks to be holding a full hand of aces. The comprehensive product range enables full bespoke solutions to be developed to maximise energy efficiency and reduce running costs and CO2 emissions. The impressive training centre provide a lifelike experience of installed equipment and systems. And the experienced technical team can support consultants, contractors and end users through the entire process from specification to installation — and beyond.

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