TechNet-21 - Forum

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  1. Gilles Ries
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. Wednesday, 12 October 2016

At B Medical Systems we have received lately more and more complaints about RCW50EG, absorption type vaccine refrigerator / ice pack freezer, that stopped working or never started working correctly. The largest complaint came from the EPI in Kenya with 200 X RCW50EG not working. The RCW50EG and the smaller version of it, the RCW42EG, have always been known as excellent equipment in the cold chain, and never had any issues, therefore initialy we thought it must just have been wrong use, settings or similar issues.

Seen the claims we have started investigating where that huge and systematic problem might have come from, and here are the results : during the calendar year of 2011, our supplier of absorption cooling units did change the interior boiler layout of the cooling system in order to increase the efficiency. That would mean as a result less electrical power consumption and as well less gas consumption. It means as well that the cooling system is now more sensitive to the heat applied to the boiler through either the electrical heating element or the gas burner. Therefore, I am explaining hereafter the effects on the different types of operation, and this is valid for every RCW50EG produced as of 2012. You can identify the year of manufacturing with the help of the serial number that is composed by 7 digits, where the first digit is the year- and the 2nd and 3rd are the week of manufacturing: example 2503456 : produced in week 50 in year 2012

1) Operation on LP Gas :

The new cooling units will not work properly and mostly not at all with the original burner jet 32, that is producing too much heat. This jet has to be replaced by a jet size 26. This change makes sure the cooling unit operates well on gas.

2) Operation on electricity :

We deliver the RCW50EG in a 220V version with a 220V/120W heating element. This setting works well for voltages of 210-230VAC. If the voltage goes higher, it won't work. I am currently in Kenya and we measure constant voltages of 250VAC. In such a case the heater has too much power and overheats the absorption cooling system. We have replaced the heaters in Kenya on several refrigerators with a 240V / 120W version, and now they perfectly well.

If you have come around similar problems wih your RCW50EGs, please contact us immediately so that we can help you to solve the problems asap. There are solutions that can be implemented quickly, and B Medical Systems will fully support those activities.

In such a case please contact me directly through : gilles.ries@bmedicalsystems.com. Please make sure to report as much details on the problem as you can. If the issue is on electrical operation, please give as much as possible details on the voltage level.

PS : we have not heard of any issues with the kerosene version as on these the heat can be adjusted through the flame setting. If anyways you would know about issues on those, please let us know as well.

Thanks for letting know and forwarding this message to any of your colleagues or network that may need to get this information.

Best Regards

Gilles for the B Medical Systems Team

Gilles Ries Accepted Answer

Hi James

As for electric option we would have to defer following cases:

1) Supply voltage between 210-230V : works with a 220V heater

2) Supply voltage between 230V-250V : works with a 240V heater

3) Supply voltage below 210 or above 250V : those are very special cases out of a normal supply voltage and therefore voltage stabilizers would have to be used.

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. # 1
James Cheyne Accepted Answer

Thanks again Gilles,

As I understand it the RCW50EG, electric option, will work well if the grid voltage is between 210 to 230VAC.

There are still some GAVI-eligible countries where the grid voltage can be below and sometimes above this range.

Does B Medical have a solution to prevent more failures in these countries? For example, installing a voltage regulator in each RCW50 (E)

Many thanks.

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. # 2
Gilles Ries Accepted Answer

Thanks James and Rafael.

We have of course informed Unicef SD and as well WHO at PQS level.

Interesting to note, that while years ago these refrigerators where mostly used on gas, today they are mostly used on electricity.

Now when the supply voltage is in an acceptable range, the users will not have any issues as confirms the reply of Rafael.

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. # 3

Dear Gilles, in Colombia we have been working with those equipments and the results have been good. The only fault ocurred in a equipment that was altered the pressure regulator in the GLP cilinder. That was the consequence of the ammonia was expelled by high temperature in the tube of the generator. The vaccinators want this equipment because it have freezer and refrigerator zones. Another advantage is the avaiability of parts and technical service by the company maker.

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. # 4
James Cheyne Accepted Answer

Thank you Gilles for this useful analysis with Bmedical's solutions.

Thank you also for your invitation to "...please contact us immediately so that we can help you to solve the problems asap. There are solutions that can be implemented quickly, and B Medical Systems will fully support those activities" [atgilles.ries@bmedicalsystems.com].

Since TechNet-21 is probably not read in all the countries by the people responsible for refrigerator performance, perhaps, WHO-EPI and UNICEF-SD could forward Gilles's offer more widely to immunization and equipment maintenance managers to alert them to B Medical's offer of support.

It appears that the performance problems built into the RCW50EG refrigerators has existed since 2011. At least four years have passed since and there will be plenty of refrigerators to be retro-fitted with new heaters or gas jets.

"...a well-definedproblem is halfwayto beingsolved...".

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Cold chain equipment
  3. # 5


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