Derek Broomfield: Career History

Derek has over 50 years of experience in refrigeration and air conditioning engineering. Having started his career installing and maintaining Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning (RAC) equipment for large clients including Esso, Harwell and Aldermaston, he quickly became recognised as a specialist in his field. During his career he has worked across a wide range of sectors in the UK, USA, Europe and Brazil.

Derek joined ETS in 2010 after selling his business, Focus Climate Services Ltd. His primary responsibility at ETS was project managing large and complex schemes for several national retailers, as well as providing specialist bespoke works for small and medium sized businesses.

Today marks Derek’s retirement from the industry.  He shares his experience and the changes he has witnessed in the refrigeration trade.

I started my career as a trainee refrigeration engineer back in 1968, aged 15.  I quickly progressed from apprentice to supervisor then onto various managerial roles before running my own business.  I decided to sell my business several years later due to health issues at the time.  However, not one to be taking retirement too soon, I joined ETS in 2010 as a Senior Consultant, utilising my skills and expertise gained over the years in HVACR.

During my 50 year-long career within the industry I have witnessed many changes all brought about by man’s ability to invent and design.  In the early days, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) equipment all used highly toxic and explosive refrigerants; such as Ammonia, methyl chloride and sulphur dioxide, to name but a few extremely volatile gasses.

The introduction of large computer mainframes gave rise to control changes from crude M&E devices to ones that incorporated micro-chips.  In the early 60’s to 70’s demand for refrigeration and air conditioning services increased as RAC appliances became more widely available.  Only 13% of homes in the UK had a refrigerator back in 1959, but by 1970 most British households owned an electrical fridge (58%).

New skills had to be learnt with the onset of people working in closed office environments with smaller personal computers and mobile phones.  Larger shopping outlets and Supermarkets also became common place in the high street, triggering a boom in the refrigeration and air conditioning trade.

These changes in consumer demand brought about new challenges in the refrigeration industry.  Plant equipment needed to be smaller with better controls for temperature and humidity.  Greater focus was also placed on improving the electronics of appliances and reducing the use of harmful refrigerants.

In the late 1980’s Hydrofluorocarbons (HCRCs) gasses were introduced as a substitute for Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in response to growing environmental concerns.  By the 1990’s heat pump systems were being manufactured and rolled-out to be used in plant equipment.  The introduction of centralised heating-cooling equipment brought about an expansion of new skill sets in HVAC; all of which gave me the opportunity to become a specialist in the refrigeration trade and led to companies seeking my expertise and advice to install, project management and diagnose faults.

It wasn’t until the discovery of the Antarctic “ozone hole” that organisations would take the effects of global warming more seriously.  Harmful chlorine-containing gases (primarily CFCs and related halocarbons) being released into the atmosphere were identified as a leading cause of the depletion of the ozone, which subsequently resulted in regulations being introduced to eventually phase-out F-Gas from RAC equipment all together.

Energy saving measures are now a central focus for many businesses and technological developments have given rise to new innovative energy saving solutions.  As a representative of ETS, I have identified and project managed various energy saving initiatives, reviewed and supported trials of new technologies and analysed the success of these energy saving projects; a far cry from the many years ago when I first started in refrigeration.

Looking back over my career I have enjoyed most of it.  It has been challenging, hard-work, interesting and I have learnt a lot!

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