“We’ve been working for well over 100 years in the marine & offshore, and district heating sectors, giving us outstanding technical competencies related to seawater and cooling applications,” says Michael Hager, General Manager of DESMI’s newly established Middle East office. “It’s a fundamental background for the competitive edge we have in district cooling – and the basis for bringing new thinking and technologies to this part of the world.”
Michael and his growing team are located in the slick head office building of Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), a 100% government-owned free zone that promotes modern technology-based industries. It’s as close as you can get to the action in one of the world’s most business-driven hotspots.
“Dubai is very central to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region,” says Michael Hager. “It’s clearly a leader both in terms of innovative initiatives and in its progressive attitude towards doing business.”
District energy frontrunner
DESMI is a global company familiar to many who specify or purchase pump solutions for marine, industrial, oil spill response, defence and fuel, and utilities. It’s one of the most experienced industrial companies in Denmark, originally founded in 1834 as a foundry in the Danish city of Aalborg. Among other things, the company leads the field of district energy (DE) – the terminology used for the integration of district heating (DH) and district cooling (DC). In the heat of the GCC region, DC is the obvious priority – and it’s a priority, too, for reducing energy consumption. In fact, heating and cooling systems together account for around 46% of global energy use, providing huge potential for further reducing CO2 emissions.
District cooling is an efficient and environmentally friendly utility service that provides chilled water from a centralized cooling plant through a network of pipes for air conditioning purposes. Relatively simple and clean, DC creates a cool, efficient indoor climate, without the need for bulky refrigeration equipment and noise in or near residences. Supply is assured year-round with minimal maintenance needed, which is reflected in reduced operating costs and lower investment requirements. Along with energy efficiency improvements, DC provides better quality of cooling, less air and noise pollution, better building aesthetics and higher reliability than, for example, the roof-top chiller solutions in widespread use today.
For DC applications, DESMI provides pumping solutions both for water intake, centralised cooling plants and the piping network itself. And, while competition is fierce in this market segment, there’s a crucial difference the company can make – based on a deep legacy of working with seawater and cooling applications in confined spaces.
Michael Hager explains: “DESMI has special skills in minimising both floorspace and maintenance – both of which are key issues on board sea-going vessels or rigs where many of the company’s products are born and refined.”
“The benefits of our unique skillset are clear, really. In real estate, every square metre has a value, either rented out or sold. If you can free up a square metre, you increase profitability for the owner. If you have to use it for facility management, it’s a cost. With our know-how about squeezing big things into the smallest possible spaces, we’re focused on turning those costs into profits.”
Building a track record
Despite not having had a local presence in the region until now, DESMI is already building an impressive track record, beginning with a DC installation for the prestigious Dubai Metro project to provide cool air for metro stations during the construction and commissioning period. For the five district cooling plants built for the project, the company has provided its NSL125-330 centrifugal pumps, each with a capacity of 162 m3/h at 35 mLC and bringing centralised cooling via 52 kilometres of pre-insulated, buried steel piping to all Dubai Metro stations.
DESMI’s district cooling equipment has contributed to a reduced electromechanical footprint inside each station, and has decreased total power consumed by 30-50%. This, in turn, has reduced the total carbon footprint, as well as noise and vibration, in comparison with the usual solution of having roof-top air-cooled chillers and pumps.
With sales already established in the region for DESMI’s marine and offshore, industrial, and oil spill response products and services, the Dubai office is primarily focused on serving utilities in the region, aiming to become a major player in pumping applications for cooling and power generation businesses.
Naturally, this part of the world has its challenges, too. Utilities, in particular, are strongly price-driven, hunting for quality at bargain-basement pricing wherever they can get it. With the Far Eastern manufacturing countries aggressively marketing their wares, the challenge for European and American vendors is to offer clear added value that can differentiate them.
A good example of this added value comes in the form of next-generation pumps designed and marketed by DESMI around the world. Today, the pump configuration most often specified by engineering consultants for DC is the split-case horizontal pump.
“Dubai is challenging, hectic and demanding – yet rewarding if you can keep up with the pace.
This is where it all happens.”
“Almost every DC uses horizontal pumps, and many customers seem unaware that things have moved on,” says Michael Hager. “But vertical in-line pumps like our NSL series take up 50% less space. We’ve also designed a flexible spacer coupling that allows access to the pump heart without removing the electric motor. So these pumps are cheaper and easier to access for repairs and maintenance – to get to the heart of the pump you just remove a few screws and you’ll be standing with the impeller in your hand.”
On home ground
While he hails from Germany originally, Michael Hager is no stranger to Dubai, having arrived in the region in 2002 to take up a position as the sales and marketing manager for a gas engine manufacturer. More than a decade later, he and his family consider Dubai to be their second home.
“I enjoy the fast-paced working environment with its daily challenges. Dubai is challenging, hectic and demanding – yet rewarding if you can keep up with the pace. This is where it all happens.”