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Keeping pace with change

We have been hearing about the evolving and expanding roles of air conditioning and cooling as technology continues to develop. A couple examples will appear in the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon to be released this fall.

When in Drag Mode, the air conditioning system of the Demon is diverted to chill the engine’s charge air cooling system. The vehicle is also equipped with an After-Run Cooler, which continues to cool the car after it has made a pass down the drag strip.

Of course, it’s unlikely that we will see the Demon in our bays. Only 3,000 will be produced.

However, we are seeing new cooling applications. Most are for EVs and plug-in hybrids, some of which have three separate liquid cooling systems. But look under any hood and you’ll discover hose connections galore. You’ll also see more engine and transmission cooling because (definitely for the transmission) there can be a CAFE credit.

The keynote address by Dr. Mark Quarto at our annual meeting this year featured “The New Role of an Air Conditioning System,” and how our future is changing to support hybrid, electric, fuel cell and other advanced technology vehicles.

His message: “The role of the A/C system has dramatically changed as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, extended range electric and fuel cell technologies continue to populate the vehicle landscape. No longer strictly a cabin cooling system, the A/C has become a crucial system for cooling high voltage electronics and battery packs. With this new role, the A/C system is now part of a larger, high voltage integrated thermal management system. The result of this integration means diagnostics and repair become more expansive and potentially more profitable for MACS members.”

During his presentation at the MACS 2017 Training Event, Bob Pattengale, the North American Training Leader for Robert Bosch LLC, heightened awareness of how widespread technological change is impacting the industry. “Modern climate control systems today not only employ more and more modules, they are also using an increasing number of actuators and sensors. Besides understanding emerging communication network topologies, technicians need to ensure their diagnostic approach, service procedures and associated skills are in step with technological changes.”

Another presentation by MAHLE’s Timothy Craig and Lindsey Leitzel echoed this theme. “Mobile air conditioning refrigerant systems are rapidly evolving in response to a number of drivers,” noted Craig. “These include the ongoing quest for improved efficiency and lower environmental impact, new vehicle architectures (notably the electrification of powertrains and other vehicle systems), the adoption and mandating of new refrigerants that feature lower Global Warming Potential (GWP), and other forces.”

Craig and Leitzel suggested that the service sector, “Expect, prepare for and then leverage the opportunity presented by increasing complexity in vehicle refrigerant systems and associated hardware. For instance, recognize that service demand will likely be as strong on controls and sensors as it is on parts and refrigerant.

“Expect the growing complexity of mobile air conditioning and refrigerant systems management to impact the industry with more parts, more sensors, more functions and systems, and clearly, more service needs. Look and prepare for them. And remember, it’s important to review the basics to understand the incoming change evolution. Knowledge and comprehension will improve your opportunity and maintain your ability to resolve customer problems.”

Looks like we have our work cut out for us!

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