When David Del Ben began Piave Refrigeration nearly a decade ago, his aim was to design and manufacture innovative HVAC parts to enhance the performance and reliability of bus and coach air-conditioning systems. This drive originates from the experience of designing bus and rail HVAC systems from scratch for projects around the world.
The company has now grown to supply a range of parts and services to the industry.
“I started from small beginnings as an engineer grounded in bus, coach and rail HVAC,” Del Ben told ABC.
“The company has grown from nothing. Despite starting off slowly we have become a boutique parts supplier for the industry.
“I have only ever dealt in either OEM parts or parts that I design and manufacture myself, redesigning them to improve both their performance and durability.”
In just over eight years, this unique process has resulted in Piave Refrigeration finding its own standing in the bus and coach HVAC market. From his more than 25 years of experience in bus and rail air-conditioning engineering, Del Ben now identifies shortfalls in products or components and re-designs replacements.
He uses his contacts and extensive manufacturing base to either get his part designs preferably manufactured in Australia or from high end manufacturers overseas.
Nowadays, Piave Refrigeration has grown its product space, supplying high quality refrigeration oils, filter dryers and brazing rods from Europe among other HVAC parts. The company specialises in the design of heat exchangers.
“Heat exchangers is a big part of our business. I have been designing heat exchangers for the past 30 years and this experience is evident in each of my replacement coil designs,” Del Ben says.
“I evaluate their performance and re-design them to boost their performance and then make them bullet proof so they will outlast the bus. My coils have other attributes, such as lower weight, and they can dramatically lower the required refrigerant charge.
“I have often been told by customers that an AC unit has been transformed after fitting a set of my condenser coils. Even with all our coils attributes, our pricing is typically more than competitive with the OEM product.”
Some years ago, Del Ben turned his focus to the intermediate idler on compressor drives. This started when Del Ben found out that this part had reliability issues, with Piave Refrigeration then developing a Piave alternative design with the same ‘bullet-proof’ philosophy.
“The arm pivot is the Achilles heel in these components – our design uses a proprietary bush design that resolves durability issues in bus compressor drives,” he says.
Following prototype field trials, Del Ben then evaluated and tuned the design before producing and distributing it throughout Australia.
The company also works with a Melbourne-based electronic design house.
“Electronic design is certainly not among my strengths,” Del Ben says.
“But product design and realisation are. I work with the design house, providing design specifications and overview to allow the design house to produce the product I want.”
Mandatory prototypes and field trials are required before production and introduction to market.
Company growth has also come about through agencies – Piave Refrigeration has always been an agent for Johnson boost pumps.
A relatively recent addition has seen Piave become an agent for Konvekta AG. After gaining the agency and recognising his lack of knowledge in the Konvekta product, Del Ben undertook product training at the Konvekta factory in Germany.
As well as now being able to provide technical support, most parts are currently available for overnight delivery to support the Konvekta product.
Piave can offer engineering services, including thermal and noise testing for buses as well as thermal diagnostics and data logs for HVAC performance.
The evolution of Piave Refrigeration comes as it solidifies its position as a one-stop shop for HVAC parts. From intermediate idlers to vibration isolators and proprietary electronic components, the business has produced quality aftermarket products that is steadily improving the reliability and performance of HVAC systems in Australia.
“Our growth is driven by our technical knowledge and experience,” Del Ben says.
“Financial and business decision making is tempered by my MBA studies and my wife Marie, who manages the operational and logistics side of the business to plan the company’s evolution.”