National Refrigerants Hinckley - a hidden local gem.
1st March 2011
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<p><br />In my previous article about <a title="Read the article on Arrow Precision." href="" target="_blank"><strong><em>Arrow Precision</em></strong></a>, I said that one of the many benefits of running thebestofhinckley and being the current Chair of the <strong><a title="Find out more about the Hinckley Business Association." href="" target="_blank"><em>Hinckley Business Association</em></a></strong> (HBA) has been the opportunity to visit and be given guided tours of some our very best local businesses. My latest visit took me to the plant of one of our HBA members – <strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong>.</p> <p><strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong> is tucked away in a Close on the Sketchley Meadows Business park (4 Watling Close) and therefore, it is highly unlikely that you will have ever seen it. The Watling Close site is shared with their sister company <strong><em><a title="Find out more about United Refrigeration." href="" target="_blank">United Refrigeration</a></em></strong> – a leading wholesalers of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and supplies.</p> <p>In principle, what <strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong> do is simple – they <strong>source the gases required in </strong><a title="Learn more about refrigeration by visiting this wikipedia website." href="" target="_blank"><strong>refrigeration systems</strong></a> (eg your domestic fridge, car or office air conditioning units, etc.) and related products from around the world, which they then import in bulk and decant into smaller quantities for sale and supply to the refrigeration industry.  The range of gases currently used by the refrigeration industry can come from the United States, Canada, Europe and China and typically are shipped into the UK in 20 tonne pressure vessels, which are delivered to the plant in Hinckley.</p> <p>It’s at this point that it can now get very complex and <a title="Take a look at National Refrigerants' range of products and gases." href="" target="_blank">a quick look at the list of products and gases on the technical page</a> of their website gives you a clue on this. Looking at the supply of the <a title="Learn more about the different types of refrigerant gases." href="" target="_blank">refrigerant gases</a> and trying to keep it a simple as possible there are two basic tasks undertaken by the <strong><em>National Refrigerants </em></strong>plant in Hinckley:</p> <ul> <li>filling brand new cylinders with between 9 – 57kg of gas </li> <li>receiving back, reconditioning and then refilling the cylinders. </li> </ul> <p><strong>Filling Cylinders</strong></p> <p>Simplicity continues, the gas that is held in bulk and under pressure, is pumped through to a bank of charging points to which smaller cylinders are attached. The gas then fills each of the cylinders to the required weight of gas. The valve is closed, the cylinders removed and the next put in place for filling. This is the point where the ‘but’ comes in and simplicity is suspended. This is because there are a range of gases and all the lines have to be changed from time to time. This means that pipes and vessels have to be cleaned. Plus, all the gases are quality controlled and so sampling* takes place continuously during the processes to ensure that the gas is to specification and each cylinder has its own colour code to distinguish the gas it contains.</p> <p><span style="FONT-SIZE: xx-small">* Not sufficient space to go into detail here but this in itself required a laboratory on site with lab technicians and some rather expensive gas chromatography equipment. Samples were taken at the start and during the processes to ensure the quality of the products.</span></p> <p> <br /><strong>Reconditioning and refilling</strong></p> <p>The refilling of reconditioned cylinders is the same as that described above but before this can happen each cylinder has to be completely evacuated of gas and cleaned to ensure that any new gas is not contaminated. Some gas will always remain in an ‘empty’ cylinder and this is either recovered for reuse (if quality permits) or sent for ‘green’ disposal, for which the site is licensed to handle such waste.</p> <p>There were so many other things covered during my visit (eg warehousing, health & safety, materials handing and of course sales and shipping to the <strong><em>National Refrigerants’</em></strong> customers in the UK and worldwide). Unfortunately, this blog does not provide me with suficient room to write about it all.</p> <p>However, one thing that clearly came across during my visit to <strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong> was that the whole process was being run in an efficient and safe way.  It was a working day but the plant was tidy and clean, we wore ‘high visibility’ jackets and the fork trucks made us well aware when we were anywhere near 'in-danger' from them. Whenever, I spoke to any of the team members in the plant they new their jobs, were flexible in their roles and appeared to enjoy working for the company. It appeared to me that there was definitely a pride in what they did, where they worked and the opportunities provided them to learn and develop personally.</p> <p>The world of refrigerant gases is changing from the use of <a title="Find out more anout CFC gases." href="" target="_blank">CFC inert gases</a> that were environmentally damaging to new more volatile but ‘greener’ gases and this is in itself is setting new challenges for gas supply companies like <strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong> who are at the forefront of these important developments.</p> <p>If you would like to know more about <strong><em>National Refrigerants</em></strong>, their products, technical information, company news and employment opportunities then do <a title="Visit the National Refrigerants website." href="" target="_blank">please visit their website.</a>  </p>/c791c436-f5e7-4da1-bdc6-b5d1388be43c.jpg/ad66b1cb-0b00-484b-8415-15a82085bc62.jpg
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