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Johnson Controls Officially Opens "the World’s Biggest Makerspace for Chillers”

Johnson Controls Opens the “World’s Biggest Makerspace for Chillers”

By Mary Kate McGowan, Associate Editor, News

From: HVAC&R Industry, April 26, 2018

NEW FREEDOM, Pa.—Conditions may vary in Johnson Controls’ newest testing facility. Equipped with fully automated testing in more than 20 labs, the new facility allows the company to test products in various conditions that match Siberia, Dubai and other climates around the world.

Johnson Controls opened its new Advanced Development & Engineering Center in York County, Pa., Monday. The research and development complex is comprised of two buildings: a 107,000-square-foot engineering office building and a 250,000-square-foot testing lab and support facility.

The new testing facility is the largest, most technologically advanced test facility for chillers in the world, said Laura Wand, Member ASHRAE, vice president and general manager of Global Chiller Products for Johnson Controls.

“We call it the world’s biggest makerspace for chillers,” she said.

The facility houses more than 20 labs for air-cooled and water-cooled chillers, acoustic, power electronics, compressor, air handling units and more. Powered by all-automated testing, the facility will help Johnson Controls be able to more efficiently and effectively test products and bring innovation to the market faster, Wand said.

JC4_1000.jpgA group tours Johnson Controls’ newest test facility in York County, Pa., Monday morning for the facility's grand opening. The group learns about the facility's new water-cooled chillers labs.

The automated testing through programming allows Johnson Controls to test each product in different conditions as the chillers being tested will be located in areas with harsh climates, she said.

The testing facility has four fully automated and controlled air-cooled chiller labs, and all those labs have the capability of testing to 131°F (55°C) ambient air temperature. There are also nine fully automated and controlled water-cooled chiller labs that have the capability to run 60 Hz and 50 Hz frequencies and voltage capabilities between 208V to 4160V.

“This is where we do our research for our next great ideas. It enables us to do more for all of the customers globally,” she said.

A training center for variable refrigerant flow systems, chillers and other products is also part of the facility.

Johnson Controls’ new Advanced Development & Engineering Center in York County, Pa., features a training facility that is open to its employees and channel partners.Johnson Controls’ new Advanced Development & Engineering Center in York County, Pa., features a training facility that is open to its employees and channel partners.

The training facility—which had a class in session right before the facility's ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday—is one of several Johnson Controls training facilities that are open for channel partners and Johnson Controls employees, said Bill Jackson, president of Global Products for Johnson Controls.


The Advanced Development & Engineering Center consolidates Johnson Controls’ testing facilities located 15 miles north in York. Pa. The new campus is located in York County, a few miles from northern Maryland.

The complex took 24 months to build, and about 1,900 total people worked on the project, said John Buescher, P.E., president of McCarthy Building Companies’ Central Division.

The complex has been in the making for more than five years, and now about 500 people, including engineers and designers, work in the new complex, Wand said.  

“We’re all in one building for the first time ever. We’ve been spread out over a campus, and now we’re all together in a very collaborative work space,” she said, adding that internal emails have fallen by 70% since employees moved to the office in April 2017. The office building opened last year, and the testing facility was officially opened Monday.

The majority of the labs in the new testing facility have been commissioned, and Johnson Controls is still decommissioning labs at its previous campus located in York, Pa. That process is expected to be finished this summer, Wand said.

The new Pennsylvania testing facility is almost a “mirror image” of Johnson Controls’ research and development center in Wuxi, China, said Wand. The two R&D centers now allow the company to design 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, she said.

Water-Cooled Chiller Labs

Johnson Controls’ new Advanced Development & Engineering Center in York County, Pa., boasts nine water-cooled chiller labs that are fully automated.  

Training Facilities

Training Facilities

Bill Jackson, president of Global Products for Johnson Controls, talks about the features of a VRF training room in Johnson Controls’ newest testing facility in Pennsylvania.  

Grand Opening Monday

Grand Opening Monday

Bill Jackson, president of Global Products for Johnson Controls, thanks those who contributed to the building of Johnson Controls’ test facility in Pennsylvania, during the facility’s grand opening on Monday. 

Compressor Labs

Compressor Labs

Johnson Controls’ newest test facility includes fully automated and controlled compressor labs that can operate at 1,000 and 3,000 horsepower.  

Air-Cooled Chiller Labs

Air-Cooled Chiller Labs

Four fully automated and controlled air-cooled chillers labs are part of Johnson Controls’ newest test facility. Photo credit: Godfrey 

Fast Facts
Lab Building 

258,900 ft2 (24 053 m2


60 ft (18 m) in some areas


25 miles
(40 km)

Refrigeration Piping

3,000 ft (914 m)

Cinder Blocks Laid


Power Cable

2.2 million ft
(670 560 m)

Tons of Rebar in Reinforced Slabs

5,000 tons

Number of Doors