Illumina is a biotech company specializing in genome sequencing. This is a process in which an entire genome (the collection of an organism’s genes) is mapped. Their equipment and reagents are used in research centers, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions across the world. From their site in Eindhoven, they supply customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Due to rapid growth, Illumina moved to a new site this year. Vink partnered with Illumina to build a cooling solution to meet increasing demands for years to come.

Vink and Illumina have a history. Four years ago, at Illumina’s old site in Eindhoven, Vink delivered a small freezer. “We liked the way they worked,” says David Greenwood, senior Project Manager at Illumina. “We had two suppliers at the site. Vink was the best in maintenance supply. Eventually Vink took over some old equipment. They were able to look at the issues we were experiencing, and addressed those.”

Strict requirements

Illumina provided Vink with the basic specifications for the new cooling unit. “We gave them the box,” David explains. “We had the racking layout, the positioning of the doors, the amount of products we needed to store all worked out.” It was up to Vink to make it all work.

Illumina delivers technology, but the majority of the company’s revenue comes from the reagents that make the technology work. “It’s very important these reagents are stored correctly,” David emphasizes. “Reagents kept at the wrong temperature stop being useful. That can be very expensive.”

This has led to very strict requirements regarding redundancy, the controls interface and the temperature range of the cooling unit. It’s also why there’s not one, but two cooling units sitting outside Illumina’s warehouse. If one were to fail, the other would kick in immediately, guaranteeing uninterrupted operation.

The units were thoroughly tested and validated by a third party.

“We ask for what we think we want. Vink shows us the solution we actually need.”

Video tours

Because the freezer is a critical part of Illumina’s operations, it was crucial for the project to be delivered on time. “Without the freezer, we can’t move into the new site,” says David. The unit needs to not only work, it needs to complete its extensive validation process as well.

Fortunately, the project was completed on schedule. “I’ve received lots of updates from Simon,” says David. Due to COVID, travel from the UK was impractical. “I was kept up to speed with photos and video tours. Whenever the project faced a challenge, Vink came to us with an alternative plan.”

CO2 refrigerant

Due to the international nature of Illumina, the project involved lots of moving parts. While maintenance is handled by local parties such as Vink, the engineering team in the United States is part of finalizing all the designs.

We build systems using CO2 as a refrigerant whenever feasible. It’s a much more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional refrigerants. While it is becoming more and more common in the Netherlands, it’s still a new development in other parts of the world.

When Vink proposed using CO2 as a refrigerant, the US team was sceptical. “Simon worked with our people in the US and Singapore to get the design right,” says David. But in the end, they were convinced. “After talking to Simon, our engineers even suggested CO2 for use in Singapore.”


“Most contractors will give you what you want. You only see them when something breaks in 12 months. Vink wants to learn from us how our equipment works, they want to develop a relationship with us,” says David about the partnership with Vink. “We developed a contractor relationship to build, maintain and assist with our growth.”

“Vink knows us. We ask for something we think we want, and they will show us what we actually need. They understand our needs, know the best products on the market, and they are able to deliver.”

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