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Retail and Foodservice 2025: Focus on Convenience

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Welcome back to the second installment of our series of blog posts that look at the top five trends that will shape the grocery retail and chained foodservice markets through 2025.

As mentioned in our previous post, Emerson commissioned global research firm Euromonitor International to identify these trends and determine what impact these developments will have on retail store and restaurant design and infrastructure.

The firm identified five megatrends that will have the strongest impact on retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years. Our first post focused on the Digital Shoppers trend; this one takes a closer look at the second trend: “focus on convenience.”

While components of the digital shopper trend center around creating convenience for shoppers,  there is enough attention on the concept of convenience that it was worth exploring further in its own megatrend.

Everyone can relate to the general issue of being asked to do more with less time. As a result of hectic lifestyles, urbanization, smaller households and hyper-connectivity, time has become a crucial commodity that customers are willing to pay for now. Currently, 83 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban centers, while 65 percent of global consumers are looking to simplify their lives.

So the challenge for retailers and foodservice providers is to become more convenient and provide a level of simplicity for consumers living more fast-paced lives.

This first requires a redefinition of what convenience means. Traditionally it meant having a basic set of staple goods within a suitable location. Today, it has elevated to the next level, with applications such as click + collect, just-in-time delivery, and replenishment models.

Click + collect is ideal for retailers and foodservice providers that are not able to commit to a full online and delivery service. Many, especially grocery retailers, are finding it an easy way to provide convenience without out a significant supply chain expansion. Consumers digitally place their orders and drive to the store location to pick up their order.

The other two applications are being greatly influenced by multiple leading traditional and non-traditional retailers.   Just-in-time delivery is beginning to mean next-day delivery and even same-day delivery. While replenishment models are basically removing the whole idea of shopping from consumers and creating a “set it and forget it” mentality.

Convenience is being redefined with a new store strategy that promises a checkout-free shopping experience.  A recent Wired article noted that consumers using a machine-learning app could enter a store, pick up their products and walk out of the store, without having to interact with a single person. Through RFID tracking on the products, customers will be charged through the app.

So, what should retail and foodservice organizations consider doing in terms of facility management and operations to stay ahead of this trend and customer expectations?

  • Facilities – Reduce stockrooms and develop new front-end designs and pickup areas to ensure speedy service, freshness and maximize sales per square foot.
  • Supply Chain – Adopt a higher cadence delivery schedule with more exact inventory orders to guarantee fresher products and reduced out-of-stocks.
  • e-Commerce – Utilize physical locations for fulfillment and outsource last-mile delivery services to attract online shoppers and allow your business to enter the delivery space quickly.
  • Human Resources – Employ trained personal shoppers and implement new staffing and scheduling to increase customer satisfaction and order capacity.
  • Customer Experience – Focus on convenience-based needs and train customers for new protocols to minimize disruptions and realize potential new cost models.

Be sure to join us for our next post, which will take a look at the third megatrend: New Retail Formats.

Four Keys to Addressing the Technician Shortage

BobLabbett_Blog Bob Labbett | V.P., Communications & Channel Marketing, Refrigeration

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes the Contractor Connection column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Answering the Call.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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It’s estimated that 115,000 HVACR technicians will be needed by 2022 to fill industry jobs. At our latest E360 Forum in Tucson, Ariz., Emerson hosted a half-day symposium entitled “Industry Challenge: Addressing the Technician Shortage.” The meeting assembled nearly 50 contractors, wholesalers, and Emerson leadership team members to take the first steps toward forming a consensus on how to solve this critical technician shortage. Meeting participants were divided into four group ideation sessions that focused on the key aspects of the challenge.

A common theme emerged as each group then presented its insights: the importance of appealing to the current field of job market entrants. Specifically, they identified career attributes that the millennial generation values most, including:

  • The desire to have a meaningful career that contributes to the betterment of society
  • The preference for working with modern technology
  • The importance of selecting a career path that has both long-term security and growth potential

With these drivers in mind, the groups presented four keys for addressing this shortage:

  1. Awareness — because vocational occupations are often overlooked in today’s culture, students with an aptitude for technical trades are not encouraged to pursue vocational or technical training. To overcome this trend, students and faculty need to be convinced that this career path is a viable alternative to a four-year college degree.
  2. Recruitment — engaging millennials requires appealing to their unique sensibilities, including their preference for working with new and emerging technologies, or careers that have a meaningful societal contribution. Studying to become an HVACR technician fulfills these needs while ultimately providing competitive compensation, job security, career growth and low competition.
  3. Training — to ease the process of earning a certification, schools should make training classes more convenient (via online or evening classes) and more affordable. As important, the curriculum should be kept current to cover the latest technologies, refrigerants, and equipment.
  4. Retention — attracting and retaining students requires making them aware of the bigger purpose and meaning the job provides. It also means helping them to achieve proper work-life balance and charting a path for true career progression.

It’s important to remember that turning the tide on the technician shortage will not happen overnight. In the meantime, we need stakeholder participation and engagement to maintain awareness of the issue and look for solutions in our day-to-day activities. To contribute to this important effort, please email the Emerson team at

Remote Monitoring Services Can Help Prevent Food Safety and Loss Issues

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management, ProAct Enterprise Software Services

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Today’s food retail customers are more discriminating than ever, demanding fresh, high-quality foods. One of the ways to provide customers with consistent food quality is for retailers to maintain their refrigeration systems. This can avoid costly equipment failure that could compromise food quality and affect the shopping experience. Preventing food loss and protecting customers from foodborne illnesses are also critical concerns for retail store operators. Remote monitoring services can help address those issues.

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What is remote monitoring?

Remote monitoring services provide real-time performance data on critical store equipment, including insights around energy expenditure, equipment operating condition and health, facility maintenance needs, refrigerant leaks and shrink causes.

Food quality reporting through remote monitoring can automate the process of recording product and case temperatures. This reduces human error and increases efficiency while helping to improve food safety and customer satisfaction.

Monitoring Outside the Store

With remote monitoring, retailers can also control and monitor their facility systems across multiple sites and their entire enterprise, giving them the ability to better safeguard food and maintain efficiency throughout their entire chain. Effective monitoring and maintenance help enable end users to offer fresh foods. Equipment diagnostics not only help ensure that these fresh foods are safe, but also can provide insight to enhance the product presentation in order to increase sales and abide by strict regulations.

Food Safety Modernization Act

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), an important new regulation, will require stakeholders to implement and document a program ensuring safe transport of food within the U.S. This act is designed to protect consumers and assure food quality and safety from farm-to-fork. Grocers will need to work collaboratively with their food suppliers and transportation carriers to ensure that all suppliers are aware of what’s needed for food safety and compliance.

For more information on remote monitoring, FSMA and a customer case study, read the Food Safety Magazine Article here.


R-290 Condensing Units Deliver Refrigeration Efficiencies and Regulatory Compliance

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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The growing demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly commercial refrigeration equipment has led to the resurgence of the natural refrigerant propane (R-290). With a global warming potential of 3, R-290 checks two key regulatory boxes: 1) it is listed as an acceptable refrigerant substitute by the EPA; and 2) it meets the DOE’s call for more energy efficiency in compressors and condensers. To support our OEM customers who are responding to this market demand, Emerson offers a line of condensing units designed to maximize R-290 efficiencies.

As a class A3 (flammable) refrigerant, R-290’s charge limit of 150g has largely constrained its use to smaller, self-contained applications. This makes R-290 an ideal candidate for use in stand-alone, reach-in applications, where the DOE has mandated 30–50 percent reductions in energy consumption as of March 27. This same class of equipment will also be subject to the EPA’s phase-down of commonly used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in 2019. The disparate timing of these regulations is forcing foodservice OEMs to consider meeting both requirements in the same design cycle. Currently, R-290 is a leading option for accomplishing both objectives.

Energy-efficient condensing units

Copeland™ M-Line condensing units provide all the technological improvements needed to help OEMs achieve regulatory compliance while giving end users optimal performance in low- and medium-temperature applications. Designed to deliver energy improvements up to 30 percent, M-Line condensing units are built on the following improvements:

  • Latest generation of Copeland hermetic compressors
  • Electronically commutated fan motors (an optional feature)
  • Condenser coil tubing design that enables additional coil rows

Next generation compression technology

Emerson has been testing alternative refrigerants for years to help OEMs make the transition to DOE- and EPA-compliant compression technology. Emerson offers A*E and R*T compressors rated for use with R-290 and available in fractional horsepower options to serve as the basis of Copeland M-Line condensing units. Designed with OEM and end user concerns in mind, these compressors deliver the following benefits:

  • Minimal sound output for quiet operation
  • More than 20 percent energy-efficiency improvements compared to R-404A
  • Little to no environmental impacts

Wider adoption of R-290 is evidence that the commercial refrigeration industry is becoming more comfortable with the natural refrigerant alternative. While OEMs and operators alike have accepted its 150g charge limit, even incremental charge increases would enable significant advances in system design and efficiencies. This charge limit is currently under review by building codes and standards makers. If (and when) charge limits are increased, Emerson will be prepared to make the necessary updates to our compression technology.

This blog summarizes the Product Spotlight column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled R-290 Ready.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Selecting a New Refrigerant — Current and Future Options

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Whether you’re an OEM or an end user, selecting an alternative refrigerant for new commercial refrigeration platforms is not an easy decision. From installation and servicing requirements to performance, environmental and economic impacts, there are many factors to consider — including the complexities of the regulatory climate.

Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 decision to change the status of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, the list of acceptable refrigerant alternatives has continued to expand. The ruling set forth specific change of status dates whereby HFCs will no longer be permitted in various commercial refrigeration equipment classes. Not only do the dates vary among these equipment classes, but there are multiple refrigerant options available within each specific application. And as these HFC phase-down timelines approach, we expect that the EPA will continue to introduce through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program new synthetic alternatives that offer incremental reductions in GWP levels.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and easy to see why the refrigerant issue — including past, current and future options — has proved particularly difficult for our industry to sort out. To help you analyze the available options and evaluate how they will impact you, we’ve assembled a list of refrigerant alternatives per commercial refrigeration application, as defined by EPA equipment classifications.

Future A2L alternatives

To meet the growing demand for lower-GWP refrigerants, chemical manufacturers have developed a new class of synthetic refrigerants called A2Ls with a GWP less than 150. While several manufacturers have submitted these “mildly flammable” blends for SNAP approval, none of these alternatives have yet to be listed as acceptable for use in commercial refrigeration applications by the EPA. A degree of flammability is a result of attempts to reach the very low GWP levels.

A2L Refrigerant designed to replace GWP
ARM-25 R-404A < 150
R-454A R-404A/R-22 238
R-454C R-404A/R-22 148
R-457A R-404A/R-22 139
R-515A HFC-134a 392
R-516A Near drop-in for HFC-134a 131
R-1234yf HFC-134a 1
R-1234ze R-404A/R-22 1

Emerson will continue to closely monitor all regulatory activity and keep you informed of any implications. These updates will likely introduce lower-GWP alternatives — such as the A2Ls discussed herein — that will help the industry continue to evolve toward more energy-efficient and lower life cycle climate performance (LCCP) systems and fluids.

There’s no question that the timing of the HFC status changes will continue to present challenges throughout the commercial refrigeration supply chain. We will continue to keep an eye on these developments and provide guidance about which refrigerants are available to help you make the transition.

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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