The interview: Mr Ralph E. Kolb, Dipl.-Ing. and Master BM, General Manager, FrigorTec GmbH
Ralph E. Kolb studied Facility Technology at the University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and Technical Sales and Marketing at the Freie Universität Berlin.
After some occupational years in the business field Facility Technology at the company Sulzer AG in Stuttgart and in the field of Environmental Technology at the company Dürr AG in Stuttgart, Mr Kolb changed to Sulzer-Escher Wyss in Lindau and joined the department of Refrigeration Engineering.
Sulzer-Escher Wyss has been taken over by Axima Refrigeration and later FrigorTec GmbH took over the product field Cooling Units. Mr Kolb is the active owner of FrigorTec GmbH.
FrigorTec manufactures individual cooling units and heat pumps for industrial applications, like eg grain cooling units and supplies them worldwide.
What led you to work in this industry?
I am happy to work to create natural products that make sense, that are sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
What would you say are the biggest challenges associated with producing grain cooling and pest infestation heating equipment?
The products have to be suitable for reliable use by our customers and must be easy to use. Of course, all variants of our devices are tailor-made to our customer's individual climate conditions. With our new controller, no special know-how about grains and oilseeds on the operator's part is necessary. The controller's logic drives the required process on its own. This was specifically requested by some large-scale grain traders and mills.
One unique feature about FrigorTec's grain coolers is that you make specific models for different regions such as Europe, the tropics, deserts etc. What key differences are there between all these different models?
On each refrigerator, the individual components such as the compressor, condenser, and evaporator have to be customized to the prevailing climate conditions. For this, special refrigeration know-how is required.
What do you see as a possible challenge that the food/feed industry may face over the next five years and how will your company play a part in prevention or solving it?
The hygiene standards that must be adhered to in the foodstuffs/feed mill industry keep getting stricter. Parallel to this, effective fumigation gases are increasingly being prohibited.
Society is also forcing companies to rethink their way of doing things. Already today, we have expanded our range to keep up with these changes. Next year will see the market launch of additional sizes that are currently being tested by our technology department.
Do you think it's important to see more young people coming into the fold of businesses such as yours?
FrigorTec already has a young and dedicated team. The importance of high-quality and healthy foodstuffs and feed is clear to everyone. Our natural processes are especially popular. We maintain partnerships with local schools, agricultural universities, technical colleges, and milling schools. We benefit from well-trained personnel from these educational centers.
How do you think food/feed production companies can work together to help create a sustainable food future for the world?
The companies producing foodstuffs and feed must implement their HACCP concept very strictly. Over the course of my many visits in the industry, I often come across defects that would be easy to rectify. How to store grains properly, and the properties a grain store needs to have, are known. The knowledge just has to be put into practice.
What is your proudest achievement whilst working for FrigorTec?
I am proud that FrigorTec only manufactures in Germany using trained employees (mainly engineers and refrigeration system technicians), and delivers its devices at attractive prices around the whole world.
I am also proud that many renowned domestic and foreign companies ask us for advice, and that we are often already brought on board during the concept stage. An example is the many talks on grain and rice storage given worldwide.
This has come about from our many years of experience, but also from our wide-ranging research work, for example with the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart.
What makes your company stand out from its competitors? Do you have any projects or plans that we should look out for over the coming year from you and your company?
In January 2020, we moved into our new production hall. The new hall greatly improves our material logistics and help us save on costs. In this way, the prices for our products will remain attractive. Technically, we are way ahead of our competitors with a new refrigerant that has a 64 percent better CO2 equivalent than the one previously used.
It was developed over several years alongside our suppliers for refrigeration components. Furthermore, recently we launched an app that is able to control the GRANIFRIGOR grain cooler. It is also possible to perform remote service diagnostics with this app.