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Johnson Controls diversifies with investments in compressor testing

Wednesday, May 10, 2017  

Johnson Controls diversifies with investments in compressor testing


hm_waynesboro  14 hrs ago  (0)


Johnson Controls diversifies with investments in compressor testing


Photo by Jennifer Fitch


Robert Fahey, left, and Ryan Nolan of Johnson Controls speak Tuesday in the Waynesboro, Pa., plant's new $6.7 million screw-compressor testing lab.



WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Johnson Controls plant in Waynesboro is marking a full month with its $6.7 million testing lab operational for compressors used by customers in the oil and gas industries, petrochemicals and those developing natural-gas wells.

Controls allow technicians to test the high-specification compressors with various speeds and pressures up to 1,000 pounds per square inch.

While the company's core business remains refrigeration systems, the development of new screw compressors allows it to reach different markets.

"It's all part of an idea of not just growing, but diversifying," said Robert F. Fahey, general manager of Global York Process Systems.

The former Frick Co. got its start in Waynesboro in the early 1850s making farm and sawmill equipment.

The business evolved over the years to producing refrigeration systems, with Johnson Controls purchasing the CV Avenue plant and other holdings from York International in 2005.

Today, the plant employs about 450 people. Many of those employees are engineers who customize essentially every product shipped all over North America and to Australia, China, Europe and Latin America.

"Our focus today in this location is the engineering expertise, technical expertise," plant Manager Christopher J. Clever said.

The refrigeration systems are used by the food and beverage industry. The screw compressors, though, can be found in places such as Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region, where natural gas is extracted.

Fahey said Johnson Controls' investment in the testing lab not only allows for improvements in research and development capabilities, but also provides an intangible boost in confidence about the importance of the Waynesboro plant's work.

Johnson Controls transferred a product line to Mexico in 2014, only to return it to Waynesboro a year later for what the Wisconsin-based company called efforts to maintain "a high standard of product quality and reliability."

Officials said customers want to get 20 or more years of use out of their compressors or refrigeration systems.

Clever said the company is training its own welders and frequently hiring engineering graduates from regional colleges, including the University of Maryland and Penn State University.

It makes its own control panels, produces some of its own tooling for prototypes and tests vessels' air pressure in a water tank.

Refrigerating Engineers & Technicians Association
Toll Free: 844.801.3711 · Phone: 541.497.2955 · Fax: 541.497.2966
1725 Ferry St SW, Albany, OR 97322