• Stellar
    New fan assembly installed.

    Stellar Prevents Meltdown at Community Ice Rink

    July 19, 2021
    A broken fan assembly was caught in time to assemble a team and mitigate melting while waiting for part delivery.

    The Children's Health StarCenter, a community ice rink affiliated with the NHL's Dallas Stars, was preparing for a weekend of events on Thursday, June 10, when a cooling tower failed. The sudden malfunction  -- discovered in the middle of the night -- crippled the rink's refrigeration system as a record heatwave brought triple-digit temperatures across Texas. With the system down, the ice began to melt.

    The team from Stellar -- specialists in ice rinks, cold storage warehouses, food manufacturing facilities and other applications-- took immediate action to mitigate further melting, and obtain the necessary part: a fan shaft and bearing assembly from the facility's cooling tower. Essential service personnel were called upon, some of whom had to delay some personal time to bring the system up to speed. 

    “The Stellar team came to our rescue when the ice rink plant failed during a heat wave,” said Damon Boettcher, Senior Vice President of StarCenter Facilities. “Stellar’s quick actions and expert knowledge of ice rinks saved our ice and allowed us to host the youth, adult and summer high school games on schedule.”

    The ice rink personnel called Stellar's after-hours service line, triggering a cascade of swift action that led to a repaired system within 24 hours. The collaborative effort between various Stellar team members across the country included tracking down and shipping parts to the facility, securing a rental crane on very short notice, and accessing the customer's control system remotely to mitigate melting. 

    "Basically, with the fan broken, building heat could not be expelled. The head
    pressures start to rise, and temperature starts to rise. When you get up to 190 pounds of pressure, your temperatures are getting up there and you start losing cooling ability," explained Eric Adams, Stellar's regional service manager for the Birmingham, Ala. and Ft. Worth, Tx. regions.

    Non-essential systems were turned off, including the air conditioning, to lower head pressure and reduce the load on the system. Rising head pressures mean rising temperatures, which mean melting ice. The ice is layered, and losing layers requires a lot to get it back to normal. That can put a system down for quite some time. 

    This repair was blessed by a very favorable chain of events and time management. The on-site crew consisted of four Stellar technicians, one of whom arrived in the middle of the night to begin the initial system troubleshoot. Three additional technicians took charge of the repair after the fan shaft and bearings arrived from the 18-hour journey by truck. Two of those are specialists in ammonia refrigeration systems. The delivery wait time enabled them to complete the projects they had planned for the day for other customers, after which they were free to devote their full attention to the StarCenter problem.

    Adams and other Stellar managers monitored the activity from remote locations in Canada, Birmingham, and Ft. Worth.

    Controls specialist Brad Smith patched into the rink controls system to view all key system specs and shared the information with Adams and the team.

    "Everything we learned during COVID about using Zoom came in handy. That technology has come a long way," Adams said.

    The quick part delivery by EVAPCO was a crucial piece to the repair puzzle. "EVAPCO did an excellent job. Our parts people and their parts people worked together. They got the parts boxed up and shipped same-day on a dedicated truck," Adams said.

    The local Sunbelt rental facility stepped up with the all-important scissor-lift, which was needed to hoist the fan assembly up to the rooftop condensing unit.

    "Sunbelt responds quickly to every job. They really jump through hoops for us. We work well together," Adams said. 

    The repair was ultimately completed by 11 PM on Friday, June 11, with technicians enduring strenuous conditions and 100-degree temperatures inside the equipment room.

    The speed of the part delivery, assessment and teamwork prevented a rink meltdown, which refrigeration professionals know requires a long re-freezing process.

    Key Personnel

    Regional service manager: Eric Adams
    Sr. Service Technicians: Jeff Nelson; Nelson Trivino 

    Service Technician: Mike Womack – lead on the repair

    Service Coordinator: Carlena Avery 

    Parts Manager: Ariel Tort

    Controls: Brad Smith