Munters is a global leader of innovative, energy efficient climate control solutions serving a variety of industries including food, pharmaceutical, lithium battery production, agricultural, marine, and data centers.
With the demand for data centers growing at an ever-increasing rate, ensuring these mission critical facilities can provide the right indoor climate is essential. Efficiently maintaining the right conditions can improve reliability, reduce operating costs and ensure a data center can be run in a more sustainable way. Depending on several factors - such as type, location, size, and power density - data centers may require different solutions to provide the best possible operating performance. Munters offers a wide range of climate systems to ensure the perfect solution.
Cooling technologies are the foundation of Munters’ offering to its data center customers. “We offer a variety of different energy efficient cooling systems for data center end users,” explains Gantert. “We take a project-based approach to developing solutions for customers, where we start with core technologies, and then work with engineers and owners to fine-tune the optimal solution for their projects. Our technology portfolio includes evaporative cooling (both direct and indirect), dry air-to-air heat exchangers (plate and heat pipe), waterless thermosyphon-based split systems (SyCool), and a fan-coil array for pairing with an air-cooled chiller offering. We also manufacture air-cooled chillers and fan-coil arrays for a specific strategic partner. In addition to cooling technologies, we offer solutions for make-up air and humidification needs.”
Munters’ engineering experience, design expertise, R&D capability, and flexible manufacturing offer the ability to customize solutions to meet the needs of its customers – everything from footprint constraints to resource (water and power) availability and many other building design considerations.
The Munters Difference
The ability to offer different cooling technologies packaged in various ways demonstrates Munters’ capacity to create custom solutions while also maintaining the manufacturing capabilities to scale as required. “It starts with our portfolio of energy efficient cooling technologies. We take these technologies and work with engineers and owners to develop a cooling solution that meets their needs. Then, we leverage our manufacturing capabilities to meet their demand,” adds Gantert.
“We recently expanded our portfolio to address a variety of factors owners and engineers consider when designing a data center, including water availability, first cost, energy efficiency, reliability, scalability, speed, and simplicity. Because we take a project-based, solutions approach, Munters isn’t pushing pre-designed, standard products to our data center customers. We have the technical expertise to partner with our customers to develop a solution that fits their specific needs, and the proven manufacturing flexibility to meet their demand.”
Carl Munters founded the company over 60 years ago - a company with innovation in its DNA. Gantert notes, “In addition to our new SyCool technology, we recently launched a new fan-coil array solution we call Modular ChilledWall (MCW). MCW is a configurable fan-coil platform for owners who utilize air-cooled chiller platforms. In addition to new technologies and equipment solutions, we are further developing our systems integration and services offerings to better support our customers.”
Meeting demand in a Covid-19 world
Demand for Munters’ solutions ramped up during the pandemic says Gantert. “Due to the increased demand, we’ve expanded our footprint to incorporate manufacturing for data center cooling equipment at both our Virginia and Texas facilities. Meanwhile, our top priority is to ensure we deliver reliable solutions to our customers, both in terms of functional quality as well as performance. We’ve spent years testing our technologies to validate performance and developing software tools to simulate performance at any geographical location. We recently opened a new test lab at our Virginia facility to further expand our testing capabilities, offering owners and engineers the peace of mind that allows them to guarantee uptime. We've also partnered with other manufacturers to expand our capacity to support our customers globally.”
Strategic partnerships are critical to Munters’ success believes Gantert. “We partner with suppliers who are willing to understand and support our unique business model. At times, in a project-based business model, forecasting becomes difficult. With some partners, we’ve arranged consignment programs and inventory management processes to better prepare for large projects. Several of our key suppliers have been our partners for many years, so they know us and they know our business.”
Among these trusted partners is Super Radiator, a coil manufacturer. Munters ties to Super Radiator go back many years before it entered the data center market. “Coils are a key part of our solution,” says Gantert. “Many of our designs require a coil, either DX or CHW. We rely on Super Radiator to support our coil manufacturing needs, working closely together to forecast demand. Our relationship has become a mutually beneficial one over many years.”
Automated Logic Controls (ALC) is another key supplier for Munters. “We not only offer the cooling technology and the mechanical know-how to develop a solution for our customers, we also integrate control systems into our offering,” explains Gantert. “Our customers connect to our equipment controls system as part of their building automation controls platform, and so all of our systems must include a controls package. Our primary supplier is ALC; they have years of experience in the data center and HVAC industries. They offer the flexibility to customize their solutions, and they work closely with us to develop our equipment controls programming for data center applications. We meet with them routinely to stay in sync with the latest developments; continuous improvement is a shared goal.”
Collaboration is essential for success in the data center market maintains Gantert. “Internally, our business team works closely with all areas of our company to ensure we deliver for our customers. We work in close collaboration with our partners and customers through the entire project life-cycle, from concept to commissioning, and we aim to maintain a strong relationship with our customers long after a facility is handed over to the end user.”
Supporting the Data Center of the future…
Data center cooling continues to evolve. As server technology adapts, and rack watt density increases to support various digital platforms, Gantert expects we will see a natural shift from air-cooled to liquid-cooled solutions for some applications. “As data centers become a larger part of the world’s infrastructure, the industry will shift to adopt more energy efficient, sustainable climate control solutions,” he says.
Water usage also continues to be at the forefront of the sustainability conversation. “We are continuing to develop water-less solutions, and where water-based solutions are required, we've adapted our solutions to reduce water consumption,” adds Gantert. “We recently received US Patents for two of our technologies very much at the forefront of sustainability for this industry: ‘Staged Indirect Evaporative Cooler Sprays’ reduces water consumption in our Indirect Evaporative Cooling (IEC) solution and ‘Air handling unit with indirect air-side economizer and decoupled variable speed scavenger and condenser fan control’ is a patent related to one of our water-less cooling technologies.” Gantert continues, “In addition, we offer a patented solution called MRM, which stands for Mineral Removal Media. We deployed this technology with a hyperscale customer, and they measured a 40% reduction in the water consumption from their direct evaporative cooling systems.
“Speed is also a huge factor,” he adds. “Manufacturers will need to configure solutions to meet specific customer needs and then quickly ramp up manufacturing to support the demand.”
A fully connected cooling solution, easily capable of integrating with a building automation platform, is important for data center operators. Gantert envisions an increase in demand for systems integration solutions from cooling equipment providers. “As a cooling equipment manufacturer, we have to provide a controls platform that can easily integrate with a building automation system, creating a connected climate if you will. Facility operators need the capability to manipulate set points (both manually and automatically) as dynamics change, whether it’s ambient conditions or data hall conditions. Munters is well positioned with our technologies and controls capabilities to support these trends in the future.”
Munters is set to expand its portfolio of cooling solutions, including new iterations of SyCool, while it seeks to broaden its operational footprint to support global data center customers in 2021 and beyond. “We'll continue to look at manufacturing footprint optimization as we aim to further boost our capabilities to support global customers. We recently announced plans to relocate our Center of Excellence facility in Virginia to a new, state-of-the-art, sustainable manufacturing location. The site will include 365,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and offices, as well as a 10,000 sq. ft. test lab with a climate control chamber for performance testing. The new facility will be powered by solar energy, adding to Munters overall sustainability objectives,” says Gantert.
“Whatever challenges a changing business climate may present, Munters is ready with the experience and expertise to help design the perfect climate solution for the data centers of the future.”