Heat Ranger Limited was established to develop and bring to market a unique machine that provides directional warm air to protect high value horticultural crops from frosts. Existing frost control methods were very expensive and of questionable effectiveness.
Two of the directors of Heat Ranger, Fred Phillips and Bruce Koller, started their careers with MAF, becoming senior managers coordinating science and extension/consultancy services. Both left in 1992 to set up their own businesses and have worked in the horticultural industry all of their working lives and continue to do so. Bruce was Chairman of New Zealand Horticultural Export Authority for seven years and Fred has been involved in frost protection design since 1969. Both have extensive backgrounds in frost protection using technologies that are currently available.
The other Director is Andrew Barclay of WYMA Engineering (NZ) Ltd who manufacture Heat Ranger in their Hornby (Christchurch) plant. WYMA is an innovative world leader in postharvest solutions for handling vegetables, and those scrubbed potatoes and carrots you buy probably passed through a WYMA machine. They export some 80 percent and have a great website. WYMA is also a shareholder in Heat Ranger.
Bruce Koller (Chairman) and Fred Phillips (Director)
Stainless Design were commissioned to manufacturer a custom gas burner to deliver the required 300KW of heat in a circular configuration. They were able to deliver a product that met our unique requirement within a tight timeframe.
Reflex Industrial Fibreglass Ltd in Christchurch manufacturer the custom fibreglass body for the Heat Ranger. While producing these components was a challenge they were able to deliver to specifications with the pattern making skills of ASP and their CNC lathe.
Bentech Limited have developed the custom electronics that control and manage the Heat Ranger. This involves operations such as regulating the machine speed, the gas flow for the burner and the start and stop sequences. This level of automation means growers can be sure that everything is under control without them having to get out of bed. We can adjust the parameters of each machine for the individual growers requirements and update them all through the internet. If a grower wants to watch what is happening at his site he can do that without having to leave home.
For the LPG engine powered version the water temperature, LPG gas flow and all of the safety controls are also managed by the electronics supplied by Bentech.
With the Heat Ranger we wanted to be able to control it and manage its environmental performance. In order to achieve this, we installed multiple 21m high masts with temperature monitoring equipment. These masts provide us with key climate data in real time through the Harvest Electronics system. You can see this data for a test mast located in the Waikato and our Heat Ranger trial site in Canterbury by going to this link here. As we build up a network of this information across the country our ability to predict frosts and inversion layers will enable us to fine tune the machines operating efficiency for each individual grower.
We have partnered with Wyma Engineering in Christchurch as they have an excellent production line setup with good international links into key world markets and a history in the horticultural sector. Wyma specialises in vegetable processing plant equipment and currently exports world wide. They have a well developed production plant and a business culture that able to cope with our unique requirements. The picture shows the base taking shape.
To relocate the machines from the factory to farm we required a custom built transport trailer. Voyager Trailers have developed a 7m tip trailer that can take Heat Ranger throughout New Zealand.
To put the Heat into Ranger we needed flame and plenty of it. Aflame Gas Services have become a great member of our design team and has sourced the mechanical controls and assisted in the burner design.
Areodynamics and fan performance are critical to Heat Ranger and using folded or welded steel was not able to meet our requirements. However, aluminium can be extruded to any shape, so we designed a structural leg and incorporated a gas pipe and electrical conduits and clamps that we could use to join it to the steel bracing. Ullrich Aluminium were able to make the dies on a short turnaround to enable us to build the first prototype on time.