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Recommissioning to Boost Energy Savings

Commissioning and/or recommissioning your site could completely change the way your business operates and save you thousands of dollars — all while also providing environmental benefits. Make sure to watch the full video here for a more detailed analysis.

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing and Growth                                                        Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

A few years ago, Emerson paired with Darren Cooper and the Renteknik Group to assist a supermarket chain in determining which parts of their business were costing them the most, both financially and in terms of energy use. The project’s objective was to recommission a 20-year-old system by adding an adiabatic-type condenser and variable-capacity compressors, in this case Digital Discus™ compressors.

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It’s important to first understand the goals of commissioning and decommissioning. In simple terms, commissioning is a quality-oriented process designed to ensure that a building, facility or system is designed, constructed and operated to meet the owner’s project requirements (OPR). Recommissioning refers to the process of commissioning a building that has already been commissioned to verify that its systems are still functioning according to their original designs.

The test site is located in southern Ontario and was built in 1991, occupying 42,000 square feet. An emerging industry trend is taking advantage of incentive programs associated with energy efficiency. At the time, Ontario’s incentive program offered 10 cents per kilowatt/hour saved; currently, the incentives are even higher.

After building a kilowatt consumption profile based on averages taken for each ambient condition, we began recommissioning with a focus on low- or no-cost service and maintenance. Then, we began the second phase of the project and determined just how poorly the system’s old condensers were performing.

What we discovered was that the supermarket had developed some unconventional workarounds. To keep the condensers cool during warmer months and prevent overheating, facility operators were spraying them with garden hoses. We determined that the easiest and most efficient way to solve this problem was to install an adiabatic system with misting nozzles to keep the condensers cool without having to run massive amounts of water through the garden hoses. We had an ambient temperature sensor set at 73 degrees Fahrenheit with a contactor on a fan that would activate the mister if a condenser reached a temperature warmer than that threshold.

The final phase of the project involved upgrading to variable-capacity digital compressors, which would allow for better load control and energy savings. In total, the site saw energy consumption reduced by about 30 percent, generating massive cost savings as well as reducing CO2 emissions. These three phases also resulted in less downtime and less potential spoilage of product due to equipment properly operating. In fact, nuisance alarms at the site were reduced by about 66 percent. In terms of the bottom line, the site cut its operational annual expenses by about $35,000 and, with incentives, payback can be achieved in less than a year.

The Case for Outdoor Condensing Units

benpicker Ben Picker | Product Manager – Copeland Condensing Units

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Restaurant and convenience store landscapes are facing unprecedented market pressures and increasing demands to meet consumer expectations. Consumers are seeking fresh, sustainably sourced food offerings from providers that emphasize eco-friendly practices from farm to fork. Pair those demands with pressure to reduce operating expenses while also maintaining regulatory compliance and you have a stressful situation.

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Making the move toward outdoor condensing units (OCUs) may be able to alleviate some of that stress. Modern OCUs can help solve a myriad of operational challenges and are emerging as a preferred option for store and enterprise operators.

Compared to legacy OCUs, modern remote systems can deliver annual efficiency improvements of up to 20 percent or more. Modern OCUs can also create a better, more desirable indoor environment for consumers, improving indoor comfort levels by lightening the load on air conditioning (AC) systems, reducing refrigeration noise, and reclaiming space that would be occupied by a centralized rack.

Modern OCUs are engineered to address today’s regulatory challenges as well, maximizing energy efficiencies and meeting the requirements set by the Department of Energy (DOE). These OCUs also utilize low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and keep refrigerant charges to a minimum.

With built-in compressor electronics, modern OCUs provide operators with peace of mind knowing that their equipment is functioning properly and reliably. System faults are immediately communicated to service technicians to help them quickly — and remotely — diagnose conditions and expedite the service process. Advanced diagnostics and smart algorithms, connected to a facility management/control system, provide operators and technicians with early detection alerts, evaluate key performance indicators, help prevent compressor failure and more.

While there are clear and present benefits to using modern OCUs, there are still considerations to be made before making the switch. Physical constraints are typically prevalent when determining whether to invest in OCUs. Some examples of these constraints are: installation in a leased building where drilling holes in the wall/ceiling is prohibited; unachievable access to the outside for remote installation; and difficulty moving equipment in an inflexible layout. There are also cost considerations to be made, such as whether low first costs or lower total cost of ownership are more important.

Sustainability targets, total store energy usage and regulatory compliance are all important factors in the modern refrigeration equation. Modern OCUs can deliver on all these factors, including enhanced reliability, improved installation flexibility, protection against system failures and much more. All of these benefits add up to a lower total cost of ownership compared to other traditional refrigeration methods.

The case for modern OCUs is strong and could take your operation to the next level.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Squeezing the most efficiency out of your energy management system (EMS) can be a pivotal part of your operation. Many store and franchise operators are only using around 10–20 percent of the overall power of their EMS. Optimizing your systems and getting your “money’s worth” out of your EMS can reduce energy and maintenance costs and potentially lower energy consumption.

Understanding Your EMS and Identifying Trends on the Horizon

To fully understand what an EMS does and how it can benefit you, a helpful comparison can be made by looking at the progression of automotive technologies. For example, today we are accustomed to our cars nearly being able to drive themselves (some can). That evolution began as industry leaders started incorporating electronics into vehicles to benefit drivers — things like an analog braking system that was connected to engine control modules which were connected to traction control systems. Manufacturers are blending these systems together, improving communication and thereby optimizing vehicles.

An EMS, essentially, follows the same sort of ideology, tying together key systems and the architectural layers of your operation. These start with the control layer, where electronics take sensor inputs and determine what actions to take with that information (turning on/off compressors, fans, etc.). Next, the supervisory layer handles things like data logging, bringing the data from different systems together and storing it for you to evaluate and analyze over a given time frame (days, weeks, months, etc.) — and generating alarms for anomalies and other problems.

Finally, the remote layer, or remote system, is a software platform (or something similar) that communicates with your on-site equipment and gathers data that you can view via a remote user interface to see trends in your operations. Obviously, this is key to your ability to manage all this information from a location away from your actual operation.

As your EMS continually collects data, it is important for you to make the most of that data and understand how your EMS can help you identify trends and improve the way your facility operates. Optimizing your EMS grants you visibility into what’s happening at any particular site within your building/enterprise. Average operational expenses for a supermarket are incredibly high, so knowing how to interpret data provided by an EMS allows you to solve your problems quickly and efficiently.

Several trends regarding smart buildings and EMS technology have emerged in recent years, including: building energy management hitting the “cloud,” increased demand for smart building products, the convergence of building communications protocols, and the blurring of the interface between smart buildings and the smart grid. These trends tend to drive innovation in four key areas: user interface and usability, integration, cloud connectivity, and extensibility and apps.

For a more in-depth look at what an EMS can offer your operation and to hear more trends, be sure to watch the full presentation here.

Blog 10: The Convergence of Ammonia/CO2 Technologies

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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In my previous blog, I explained why CO2 and ammonia (aka NH3) refrigerant technologies are crossing over into each other’s traditional market spaces, i.e., CO2 making its way into industrial settings and low-charge ammonia systems in use in commercial applications.

As regulatory compliance concerns and sustainability objectives drive end users toward natural refrigerants, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are responding with new innovations that draw from traditional CO2 and ammonia architectures.

Let’s look at some innovations that are indicative of this convergence.

NH3/CO2 cascade — Ammonia in commercial refrigeration

Owners of large (+100-ton) commercial HFC systems are now considering implementing smaller, lower-charge NH3/CO2 cascade systems. In turn, some industrial OEMs are expanding their product portfolios to target the emerging niche for natural, energy-efficient systems in commercial refrigeration. These NH3/CO2 cascade systems are designed to operate with very low charges of ammonia (100 pounds or less) on the high side of the refrigeration cycle (in a remote location, e.g., the roof) to chill the CO2 sent out to the cases in a store.

CO2 transcritical booster — CO2 in industrial refrigeration

CO2 offers a documentation-free refrigeration alternative to long-time operators of large-charge ammonia systems. Commercial OEMs with CO2 expertise are answering the call for CO2 transcritical booster systems, which have proved viable in cooler regions. This system utilizes several compressors in parallel to meet the desired cooling requirement. CO2 blast freezers are also effective in low temperatures, especially below -40 °F.

Smaller-platform applications for ammonia

Both commercial and industrial operators with smaller facilities have a variety of low-charge ammonia options from which to choose to meet their cooling requirements and sustainability goals:

  • NH3 low-charge centralized — this remote, distributed architecture is designed to reduce the liquid line length and subsequent refrigerant charge.
  • NH3 direct expansion — available in distributed or remote varieties, this system requires the circulation of much less refrigerant.
  • NH3 chiller with pumped CO2 secondary — ammonia chills CO2 (volatile brine), which is then pumped into the refrigerated areas.
  • NH3 chiller with pumped CO2 secondary, plus CO2 cascade — combines an NH3 chiller that provides the medium-temperature load via a CO2 secondary design, plus a CO2 cascade system for the low-temperature side.

This convergence also proves that operators of commercial and industrial facilities have more in common than they realize. Both are trying to balance capital expenditures, total cost of ownership and sustainability objectives in their selection of refrigeration systems. So, the blurring of lines between CO2 and ammonia technologies in these markets is ultimately beneficial to all involved.

Read the full Accelerate America article on the convergence of ammonia and CO2 technologies [pg.16].

A Look Ahead for the Refrigeration Industry – ACHR News

DonNewlon_V2 Don Newlon | V.P./G.M., Food Retail, Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from ACHR News, titled “Manufacturers Optimistic About the Future of the Refrigeration Market.” Read the full article here.

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The U.S. economy is looking more robust, with many economists predicting the gross domestic product (GDP) will grow between 2.5 and 3 percent this year. That is slightly higher than last year’s GDP, which the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported as increasing 2.3 percent, but much higher than the increase of only 1.5 percent in 2016. Other economic indicators are looking positive as well, including modest inflation, higher wages, increased consumer spending and low unemployment. All these factors are leading manufacturers to believe 2018 will be a good year for the refrigeration market.

Cold rooms, including the walk-in cooler and freezer applications found in many venues such as convenience stores and supermarkets, also remain an important area of focus for the industry because of the ongoing demand for tighter temperature control and monitoring to ensure food safety and quality.

Emerson sees foodservice showing solid growth, and we expect food retail, transportation and industrial growth will be even stronger. For several years now, we’ve placed significant development emphasis on helping our customers be ready for refrigerant and energy advancements, and those products are seeing growth as well. As the refrigeration industry continues to evolve, it is our responsibility to continue developing products that allow our customers to stay on top of industry trends.

While manufacturers are optimistic about growth this year, there are lingering concerns over the current and future state of regulations and refrigerants. Adding to the confusion is the recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny a petition to rehear its prior case that ruled the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to regulate HFC refrigerants.

The recent SNAP ruling is a concern, as some end users and manufacturers are faced with questions about how to proceed. Refrigeration is dealing with extraordinary dynamics right now, bringing both a challenge and an opportunity. We see our role as engineering simple and sustainable solutions to meet these challenges. We are working with our customers to help determine their approaches moving forward.

The transition to natural and alternative refrigerants will likely continue. Emphasis should also be placed on properly training techs, as new refrigeration equipment cannot be installed and/or maintained correctly without them. As manufacturers shift to new refrigerants, the industry will need to provide additional training to ensure contractors are able to install and service the next generation of equipment being offered.

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