Nature May Abhor a Vacuum, but Industry Loves It

NAVAC
Written by Pauline Müller

True singularity in the industrial vacuum market is a rare find. Yet NAVAC has achieved just that. While reducing the carbon footprint of vacuum pumps operating in the market, this disruptor is cornering the market in revolutionary ways. Globally recognized as the largest international manufacturer of rotary vane pumps, producing a phenomenal 1,000 units daily on average and introducing many world firsts in this field, NAVAC’s name is synonymous with innovation and unwavering value.

Making the world
With everything from mobile phones and computer chips to automobile and space shuttle components and many more “everyday” items manufactured under vacuum, it is comforting to know that the team instrumental in fabricating much of the world around us is quality-driven and over-qualified for the job. This comparatively new American startup may be young in trading years, but its research and development endeavors go back decades.

Backed by a legacy vacuum pump outfit in Asia, its affiliated firm has a proud history fast approaching three decades. At home in the United States, however, NAVAC is headquartered in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

On the other side of the world, this leader is exceptionally proud of its next-generation, 1.2 million-square-foot innovation center for vacuum technology and fabrication facility on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Dwarfing its competitors with vast capital investments in state-of-the-art machinery and top tier engineering staff, including industry experts, that allow it to be 30 to 40 percent more cost-effective, NAVAC leads with performance. Setting itself apart in everything it does, its guarantee includes performance, reliability, and service achieved by maintaining complete control of all its manufacturing processes.

World’s smallest dry pump
By manufacturing all components in-house including its motors, lead times are all but non-existent and production is immediate. No detail escapes the keen attention of this laser-focused team. While its roster of new technology is as impressive as it is substantial, the company’s most exciting new addition to its range focuses on dry screw vacuum technology. Considering the level of sophistication involved in developing these oil-free machines, the prohibitive cost of doing so has put this technology out of reach for most manufacturers.

But now, with the dawn of the NAVAC HelixDrive range, a dry screw pump handling 8 to 100 cubic meters per hour, the demands of applications that require low throughput that have had to resort to oil-lubricated vacuum technology in the past are answered. “This is the world’s smallest, most reliable, and most cost-effective dry screw pump,” says Brian Cox, Director of Business Development. “There really is no screw pump built at that size, especially at this price point.”

Developing the product in collaboration with a leading university in vacuum technology, NAVAC tested and improved upon the HelixDrive in the most demanding settings in the Asia-Pacific market before it was released to the U.S. for purchase. It also comes to market offering innovative technology at a similar price to a common, lower-quality pump currently on the market.

Standing apart
The team’s enthusiasm is infectious. Market disruptor Mike DeLisi, Director of Sales of Vacuum Technology, recently returned from a trip to NAVAC’s plant near Shanghai full of praise for the company’s capabilities and modern infrastructure here and abroad. “We have a state-of-the-art facility and one of the largest manufacturing footprints that rivals the facilities of companies like Apple or Google,” he says, highlighting that the team there maintains a precision operation and outstanding leadership.

Keeping the firm at the pinnacle of its performance, its leadership engages with master strategists like DeLisi and Cox to help situate the company in the optimum position, exceeding customer needs with the innovative quality of its customer care and products. Leading with what it calls the NAVAC Experience, the company goes all out to deliver its one-of-a-kind product lines in a way that reflects its commitment to service.

While NAVAC’s range of products may look like similar releases on the market, they are all distinctly different. These include its legacy pump, the NRD/NRS series, which comes complete with advanced pump technology and industry-leading reliability, standing head and shoulders above the competition available in its class, according to DeLisi. Today, this range could qualify as the company’s entry-level pumps. By improving upon its technology, the company developed midrange and premium selections that truly advance vacuum technology beyond what the market ever thought was possible.

Iconic black series
NAVAC’s black pump series is considered the most sophisticated and disruptive pump available at present. By transforming the power supply on its EcoDrive and ShieldDrive products from AC-powered motors to permanent magnet DC-powered machines, the team dropped energy consumption by as much as 50 percent. These new DC-powered pumps are also significantly quieter, revolutionizing the typical noise range of over 100 decibels to sometimes lower than 60, making many of the company’s machines quieter than most refrigerators. This is critical in one of its key markets—freeze drying—as residential freeze dryers occupy space in many kitchens today, further validating the need for quietness and efficiency.

These pumps also run for significantly longer periods between servicing and replacement, beating the traditional four-to-six-year lifespan of an AC-motor pump running 24/7, with up to 10 years before replacement in the NAVAC DC-powered form.

These are not the most exciting features, either. While less sophisticated pumps often seize up due to contamination, the NAVAC EcoDrive and ShieldDrive ranges offer an Eco Mode or variable-speed drive. This technology means that these machines can now run on fewer revolutions per minute during downtimes while consuming an average of eight cents’ worth of energy per day and almost eliminating seizing due to corrosion locking up the pump once it’s out of service.

Often paired with turbo molecular vacuum pumps, typical roughing pumps run needlessly at full capacity during downtimes, wasting energy and causing wear and tear to the pump. Now, with the NAVAC Eco Mode addition, this problem is a thing of the past. DeLisi’s smile could not be bigger when reiterating that, despite implementing all this cutting-edge technology, NAVAC’s products remain a staggering 30 to 40 percent more cost-effective than that of other manufacturers.

Lab favorites
There is also the favorite amongst laboratories for application in critical environments. The ShieldDrive is NAVAC’s latest oil-lubricated, magnetically coupled, guaranteed leak-free rotary vane vacuum pump, offering dual-stage function and a high-performance permanent magnet motor. This technology relies on two magnetic couplers spinning the motor into the pump—which leaves users with complete confidence that no oil can escape the shaft seals.

While other companies have tried their hand at this technology, selling it at quite a premium, NAVAC is confident that its proprietary take on creating this oil-tight solution renders its product far superior to anything else in its class.

Wherever applicable, NAVAC vacuum pumps also come standard with an advanced proprietary coating that protects all components from corrosion and significantly improves lifespan.

The company’s next market-disrupting range is the UniDrive series, a single-stage vacuum pump offering more robust and reliable vacuum solutions. This technology is popular amongst some of the world’s largest food manufacturers. Downtime in such factories can mean losing millions of dollars of product a day, and these firms like to know that the vacuum pumps removing air from food containers and packages in their facilities work as hard and predictably as they do. Here, cool running motors also add to efficiency, as overheating machines can cause serious problems in temperature-controlled manufacturing facilities.

This series also has an even more market-specific pump, the UDS, which caters to the liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) market, analytics, and other highly specialized vacuum pump markets that require single-phase power supply. Used in high-tech environments, these machines supply steady and reliable vacuum action that is controllable and ultra-robust. While single-stage vacuum technology is old and well-known, it forms the foundation of the vacuum pump industry.

No pumps without people
Despite being vacuum-driven, the company has a keen focus on its people and their development. Its people are lauded for being as fantastic as its products are. Optimum response times mean that every customer is attended to immediately and any concerns are solved without delay. In terms of service delivery, NAVAC considers the pre- and post-sales support to be as crucial as closing its sales agreements.

With over 50 years of combined experience, the two leaders, Cox and DeLisi, are building the company’s strongest sales team yet. Placing itself at the opposite end of the traditional approach of typical sales teams, NAVAC’s focus on the customer experience takes its products and service delivery to new heights for this industry. In the process, the company collaborates with clients in need of performance, reliability, and service to meet their demanding application requirements for outstanding vacuum technology—an acutely underserved market at present.

“Building up to this, many of our competitors in this market considered vacuum pumps a commodity with more of a ‘one size fits all’ mentality—where customers had to fend for themselves and make tough decisions on selecting the right vacuum pump for their application. Mike and I saw a huge opportunity here and had developed what we call the NAVAC Experience,” says Cox.

The greater NAVAC story started nearly a decade ago when the company started exploring the American vacuum pump market with the vision to expand into the country. At the time, the company was known in other global markets for its industrial vacuum division alongside its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) division which is still part of the company. The original company owner started the Asian facility nearly three decades ago.

“Our leadership team is extremely innovative, both in product development and channel expansion. We were at the forefront of manufacturing and technology,” DeLisi says of the visionary entrepreneur who brought the best of vacuum technology to the global market via the company’s fully integrated, self-sufficient fabrication manufacturing outfits. Starting its entry into the American market in New Jersey, the company has taken its time to build solid foundations before making a solid impact on world markets.

Bringing close to two decades of filtration expertise to the table, DeLisi was ideally positioned to contribute his extensive knowledge of vacuum technology and environmental protection to the company’s infrastructure when he joined. His experience in developing business strategies with sales teams that solved pump and filtration issues for customers now serves as a basis for his disruptive approach to the industry status quo.

“There’s more to vacuum technology than just each component. We want to create a solution for customers so they don’t have to approach multiple sources to find that,” he says of the integrated service NAVAC offers.

Accountable industry
His mission, as DeLisi describes it, is to put the company at the forefront of customers’ minds and to keep everyone in vacuum technology advancing forward by driving innovation in the industry. His dedication to providing the NAVAC Experience while exceeding customers’ expectations is what he defines as matching a premium product with a premium service standard.

Setting the global example of backing its products and being accountable, NAVAC supplies customers with new vacuum pumps if its pumps in the field become faulty outside of their warranty. The logic behind this is simple: high-stakes operations cannot afford to waste uptime. Therefore, to protect customers from lead times that can be as long as 10 to 20 weeks in some cases when working with competitors, the company ensures that its products are easily accessible, globally, at all times.

“We want to help elevate all our competitors to perform at the level that we perform because, again, our mission is to make sure that the customer is taken care of,” DeLisi says.

This approach to shaking up the vacuum pump industry is a breath of fresh air as far as Cox is concerned. “Now I truly believe as long as the customer wins, we all win,” Cox says. As a longstanding industry expert, he has seen it all—the good, the bad, and the very ugly. He speaks passionately about the decline in customer care over the past few decades.

“I always put myself in the customer’s shoes,” he says. “If I was making the capital investment that our customers are, I would want the best product at the best price, but more importantly, I would want a high level of customer care.” Experience taught him that keeping customers engaged and satisfied is very easy if the team is engaged and understands that the customer comes first. Here, the secret is to have a good time together so it doesn’t feel like work. “We wake up and go to war in pursuit of protecting the customer and when the day is over, we celebrate our victories.”

New facility, new future
Recently breaking ground at its new facility, NAVAC’s growth will add around another million square feet to its existing footprint. Yet there are still many firsts ahead for NAVAC, like introducing its disruptive UDS technology at its first-ever trade show hosted by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), in June this year. With specialized teams watching the future and what it brings, NAVAC is aware that, in many ways, it is ahead of the future.

As such, the team fully grasps its global responsibility to consumers, as “there is nothing in this world that vacuum technology doesn’t touch,” DeLisi reminds us.

By continuing to bridge the gap between customers and technology, NAVAC’s 10-year vision promises to bring the world many more sustainable, legendary products with an unwavering focus on performance, reliability, and service.

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