Selecting a Radiator and Heat Exchanger Supplier for Critical Applications

Selecting a Radiator and Heat Exchanger Supplier for Critical Applications

Heat Transfer for Critical Applications 

The term "critical application" means different things to different people.  In our world of radiator and heat transfer products, critical tends to take the form of life and safety, first response, extreme duty, and 24/7 applications.  Of course, others may view more modest equipment as critical (such as a small business' only delivery truck), and rightly so.  Whatever the definition you use, there are common factors that come into play when selecting a radiator manufacturer and their heat exchanger products.  We encourage customers to look strongly at a potential supplier’s mix of technical and commercial capabilities to gauge how they might support your high-stakes mission.  Below we’ll offer examples of key characteristics to look out for.  

Choosing the Right Features 

Extreme-duty equipment may be deployed into practically any environment on the planet, and when supporting critical applications, can be reasonably expected to perform in conditions well outside of normal.  

A good example can be found in natural disaster response generator sets - a large, complex piece of machinery that with minimal notice needs to be airlifted into a devastated area still experiencing severe weather conditions, and that must fire up to provide power to medical facilities or public shelters for weeks on end, without interruption.  Every component within the gen-set has to be purpose-built for exactly these types of demands, and so component buyers should evaluate OEM partners on these grounds.  

A few key features to consider for critical applications include:  

  • Material Options - a manufacturer's ability to work in multiple materials (namely aluminum, copper, brass, steel, and stainless steel) provides wider technical options targeting your specific heat transfer and environment compatibility requirements. 
  • Coating Application - ultra-resilient heat exchanger assemblies need to withstand severe conditions both inside and out.  Proper coolant formulation and flushing helps fight internal corrosion, and advanced engineered coatings help ward off external corrosion stemming from environmental, vapor, chemical, road grime, temperature shock, and particulate wear attack.  
  • Weld Integrity - commodity manufacturers typically vary their weld profiles based on the materials being used, but do not consider more extensive nuances that may be encountered in abnormal (but expected) conditions.  For example, material expansion and contraction, vibration, full-load startup shock, and internal vacuum draw are all factors that can lead to weld failures.  OEMs that understand critical applications know how to prepare, apply, reinforce, multi-pass, purge, and clean welds that can stand up to these challenges.  

Select a Partner, not a Vendor 

Just as critical application components are defined by their features, the manufacturers of these components are defined by how their business practices and offerings align with customer expectations in these markets.  Commodity vendors typically do not have the response times, engineering expertise, stock levels, or advanced manufacturing practices that more robust partner OEMs can offer.  Examples of these higher-tier capabilities include:

  • Custom Engineering and Fabrication - critical-need equipment is very specialized, and calls for customized solutions to suit.  An ideal heat exchanger OEM partner is able to custom design products for each unique application, providing engineering support on the heat transfer, mass flow, mechanical design, and thermal reaction factors needed to perform reliably, without issue.  
  • Testing and Quality Control - a dedicated partner considers the integrity of their entire manufacturing operation as synonymous with their customers' success.  Offering final product testing is fairly common amongst heat exchanger manufacturers, but higher-tier OEMs will employ fully documented work practices, quality inspections, inter-process performance standards, and extensive employee training wrapped into a complete Quality Assurance program.  
  • Sustainability - assembling radiators for federal standard Tier 2, 3, 4 and 5 diesel engines introduces considerations for overall sustainability and emission control into the fabrication equation.  Manufacturing systems that limit waste, maximize raw material yields, and utilize low-byproduct processes are highly aligned with the goals of pollution reduction desired of the engines they're serving, and a true OEM partner will reflect these objectives in their workflow as well.  

Besides these key features above, consider how easy the OEM is to work with on an ongoing basis.  Stock levels, order processing and confirmation, follow-up support, spare part availability, and even the simple virtue of being able to reach a human when you call, are all valuable traits that a true partner will bring to the table.  Heat exchanger purchasing doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be right, and a true partner will understand the difference. 

Mission-critical vehicles and equipment in over a dozen infrastructure sectors rely on heat transfer components manufactured by Cincinnati Radiator  (“CR”).  CR works directly with Original Equipment Manufacturers and Aftermarket service channels to supply premium-grade, long life radiators, heat exchangers, and full cooling packages into extreme applications all over the world.  We pride ourselves on having a personal touch, ultra-fast lead times, and one-off custom design capabilities.  For your next vehicle or heavy equipment heat transfer project, call us at (513) 874-5555, email us at, or visit our website at   

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