The world's smallest shunt unit
Today’s energy-efficient building techniques set new demands on HVAC installations. Few companies understand this like TTM Energiprodukter in Kalmar. Now the company is launching the world’s smallest all-in-one shunt unit, specially adapted for modern properties.
“This is a long-awaited new addition seeing the light of day,” says product manager Jens Loord.
The new member of the family, Shuntomatic Mini, has had a long history from the drawing board and the CAD environment to now becoming reality. Two generations of engineers have been involved in its development. Ulf Wickström, who has been a pensioner for a couple of years now, began the process. And his successor, Andreas Jilkén, completed the work. Both are very happy with the result now the product has been launched on the market.
“This will be yet anothermodel in a winning concept,” says Ulf Wickström.
Ulf Wickström, known in the industry as “Mr Shunt”, started with TTM Energiprodukter in Kalmar in 1976, as a newly graduated mechanical engineer. His first assignment was to design a new generation of the Shuntopac shunt unit, which had arrived on the market as early as 1969.
“Yes, my first job was the Shuntopac 77, which was a prefabricated shunt unit constructed entirely to the customer’s specification,” Ulf explains.
Even then there was an idea of creating a fully standardised shunt unit where the customer would not need to specify everything, but could instead easily order a ready-to-use shunt unit.
They made a few attempts, but the time was not right for such a development. So the idea of a fully standardised shunt unit was set to one side. But Ulf couldn’t completely let go of the idea.
“No, it’s always been there at the back of my mind. When we’ve been talking to customers about their needs and been at trade fairs, the idea has come up again several times. But we’ve been very good at producing our customer-adapted shunt units in the Shuntopac series, so it wasn’t until 2015 that the assignment of designing a smaller, standardised shunt unit arrived on my desk again.” In parallel with this, TTM Energiprodukter began developing the new standardised Shuntomatic concept – but without the “Mini” label. The development process continued until launch in 2018. The response from the market over the last two years has been overwhelming. During the same period, TTM Energiprodukter has grown significantly. Last year 13 new employees were taken on. The entire workforce now consists of 35 people.
Engineer Andreas Jilkén and former product manager Jens Loord remember how they used printed plastic 3D models to produce a prototype of the Shuntomatic Mini. “Substations are becoming ever smaller in new properties. This small shunt unit can
be suspended directly from the pipes.”
Engineers Ulf Wickström and Andreas Jilkén demonstrate how small a Shuntomatic Mini really is.“The installer can tuck it under one arm and it can be suspended directly from the pipes in a substation,” says Andreas with a smile.
Ulf has a simple explanation for why the mini version, the Shuntomatic Mini, needed to be developed:
“We’ve seen a new need develop over the last decade. It’s quite simply that better buildings are now being constructed. They have better heat recovery and insulation. This means less power is required, and spaces in buildings are becoming ever smaller. So it became increasingly clear that we needed a smaller shunt unit in our product range. One adapted to today’s energy efficient building techniques.”
“What we’ve also seen,” continues Ulf, “ is that interest in choosing environmentally friendly materials is constantly increasing. So we’ve chosen to manufacture the new shunt unit’s pipes in the material ‘Eco Brass’.
This is a low-lead brass with only 0.09% lead, which is fully prepared for future material requirements.”
In mid-June 2018, Ulf took retirement after 42 years with TTM Energiprodukter. He left the company on his 67th birthday. This meant that he couldn’t complete the development of the Shuntomatic Mini.
Dan Arfvelin, CEO of TTM Energiprodukter, explained that it was far from easy to find a replacement for Ulf, with his long
“But finally we found Andreas Jilkén, who has previously worked as an engineer in the automotive industry. He began working with us a year later, in February 2019. His first assignment was to pick up where Ulf had left off with our Shuntomatic Mini.”
When Andreas began in his new workplace, the first samples for the product had just arrived.
“It was very exciting. From having worked in very large organisation I was suddenly directly responsible for designing an entire product myself.” But Andreas hasn’t been completely alone. Ulf has interrupted his peaceful retirement from time to time and given a helping hand with the development process.
“It’s fantastic,” says Andreas with a smile, “to have someone to discuss things with who’s worked with it for almost as long as I’ve been alive!”
8 kg of flexibility
Jens Loord, product manager for shunt units at TTM Energiprodukter, sees many opportunities for the smallest member of the product range. He explains that it only weighs 8 kg, compared to the smallest Shuntopac version at 25 kg.
“Substations are becoming ever smaller in new properties. This small shunt unit can easily be suspended directly from the pipes, close to the control object it works with. For example a ventilation unit.” Jens explains that they didn’t want unnecessary lengths of pipe between the shunt unit and what it controls.
“That leads to slow regulation.”
Another possible market for Shuntomatic Mini is projects where there are extra strict demands on environmental impact. Normally, the brass used in the pipe industry contains around 2% lead. But by investing in low-lead brass, TTM Energiprodukter is now right at the cutting edge.
“Yes, in projects where environmental impact is extra important, this can be a particularly interesting product,” says Jens.