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How to Create the Perfect Climate in Supermarkets

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently participated in an article for Winsight Grocery Business, which discussed the importance of keeping refrigeration and HVAC systems in harmony. Click here to read the full article.

How to Create the Perfect Climate in Supermarkets

Refrigeration and HVAC costs are among the biggest operational expenses a supermarket faces. The reasons? People create warmth. Refrigeration creates cold. Humidity creates wetness. And in supermarkets, HVAC systems constantly struggle to maintain the right temperature and humidity for people, equipment and products. With proper management and planning, supermarket operators can balance these factors and even optimize HVAC and refrigeration systems to work in coordination with each other.

 The battle between HVAC and refrigeration

In most buildings, the job of an HVAC system is to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature for customers and staff. But HVAC systems face unique challenges in supermarkets. Coolers, refrigerated display cases, freezers and other units (particularly those without doors), pour cool, dry air into stores. This isolated cold air stresses HVAC systems year-round, as they have to increase heating during winter — burning a lot of energy — while leaving uncomfortably cold spots, even in summer. Your refrigeration equipment alters an HVAC load in ways most systems aren’t designed to handle.

Adding doors or replacing open units can reduce both the load and energy costs. But adding doors creates a different problem: they often fog up — which forces shoppers to open the doors to see what’s inside — defeating the whole purpose of having a door. Fog and frost occur when humid weather, steamy shoppers and chilly air collide.

A foggy situation

Door fogging is a symptom of a very tricky problem: keeping in-store relative humidity (RH) at the proper percentage. If humidity is too high, doors fog over and cooling coils frost up, forcing units to overwork. If the humidity gets even higher, water can condense on floors, walls and even dry-goods packaging. But if the RH is too low, the overly dry air can shorten the shelf life of fresh produce or wilt it.

Moisture, relatively

Almost all the humidity inside a store comes from moister outside air, and it’s up to HVAC systems to lower that humidity to a slightly dry 45 percent RH — and that’s not easy.

The simplest way to do this is to super-chill incoming outside air, because as air cools, its humidity drops. But this wastes energy in two ways: it increases the refrigeration load on the HVAC and can chill the entire store. So, the air first has to be reheated before entering the store, producing yet another energy expense.

Another option to use a desiccant system in the HVAC unit to remove moisture. These systems are effective and reliable, but they require a lot of energy, especially for large spaces like supermarkets.

Harvest-free heat

The article describes a simpler, cheaper solution. The compressors on your refrigeration equipment generate a lot of heat as they compress refrigerants. This excessive heat is usually vented outside the building, wasting a source of free heat. Today, systems can recycle, treat and mix this hot air to create ideal store temperatures and RH — at much lower overall costs.

Advanced systems harvest excess hot air in various ways. Some use the hot vented air instead of the HVAC heater to reheat super-cooled, dehumidified air and reduce reheating costs. Some systems use heat exchangers to recycle the vented hot air to heat a supermarket during cold weather. “Single-path” systems super-chill a limited volume of humid outside air to dry it, then mix it with uncooled air to produce just the right temperature/RH mix. Another system uses two cooling coils, one to cool the hot air as it’s being vented outside, so it can mix with outside air to reach optimal temperature and RH. The incoming air needs little heating or cooling as it reaches the second coil, which greatly reduces the workload on the HVAC system.

Instead of adding to your HVAC system’s workload, your refrigeration equipment can actually help reduce the load, lower your costs, and create the ideal climate for shoppers, employees and facility managers.

 

Five Reasons Why We <3 STEM Every Day

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Cold Chain, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Five Reasons Why We STEM Every Day

Today is National STEM Day. For those who may not know, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a national coalition aimed at preserving America’s place as a global technological leader by focusing on educational principles that help students learn and excel in those four subjects. While we join in today’s celebration, STEM is a continual, dedicated area of focus at Emerson. You might even say it’s in our DNA.

So, on this day, we’d like to take a look at why STEM is important to the futures of our children, company and country.

  1. Educational empowerment — first and foremost, STEM is about empowering our children to overcome the stigmas often associated with its curriculum — from being too complex to being reserved only for the academically exceptional — while inspiring interest in STEM careers. Doing so will require STEM activities to be more accessible, engaging and mainstream. Simply put: it means making STEM cool again.
  2. Closing the gender gap — today less than 50 percent of females are encouraged to pursue STEM careers. To ensure equal career opportunities and earning potentials, we need to inspire their interest in STEM from a young age and provide pathways that lead to long STEM careers.
  3. Technological transformation — in an era where technology is transforming nearly every aspect of our lives, STEM skills are more relevant than ever. Nowhere is this more evident than in the HVAC&R industries. Service technician jobs are becoming more technological than mechanical; architectures that drive these systems are rapidly changing; and electronics and digital controls are permeating every aspect of their operations.
  4. More data = more science — an abundance of data is changing the way systems (such as HVAC&R) are maintained, operated and optimized. This brings the role of data scientists to the forefront with their abilities to write the algorithms that process this data, detect trends and anomalies, and even predict issues before they happen.
  5. Making up lost groundthere’s no question that the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in STEM-related skillsets and disciplines. It’s time to bring these competencies and spirit of innovation back to our shores to help usher in the next generation of technical know-how in an increasingly connected, global economy.

Emerson has been a champion of the STEM program for many years, so National STEM Day holds a special place in our hearts. We believe STEM is good not only for our children’s development, but also the prosperity of our country. In recent years, we’ve seen the rapid advancement of technology in our shared industries, and there’s no sign of this pace slowing down in the foreseeable future. STEM is vital in ensuring that the U.S. continues to set this pace and preserve our place at the global technological table.

Introducing the New E360 Content Hub!

The new E360 Content Hub consolidates our vast library of articles, case studies, white papers, videos, presentations and webinar archives in one place. You can access directly at Climate.Emerson.com/E360ContentHub.

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Cold Chain, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Introducing the New E360 Content Hub

 

Quickly find the topics you’re looking for in one place

In 2014, we launched the E360 initiative to facilitate an industry-wide dialogue that would foster collaboration among stakeholders and address the many challenges facing HVACR today. Since that time, we’ve explored myriad topics which cover a full spectrum of issues and applications that our customers encounter at various points along the food cold chain. This has allowed us to amass a wealth of valuable, informative materials in a variety of formats — from articles, case studies and white papers to videos, presentations and webinars. With the introduction of our new E360 Content Hub, we’re happy to announce that all of these materials are in one place — with neither a charge nor subscription requirements for you.

Multiple ways to search for topics

By aggregating our vast library of E360 resource materials into one place, we’re providing easy access to in-depth industry information in multiple ways. The hub is designed to give you the ability to browse topics related to your specific areas of interest, or perform a targeted search. To help you find what you’re seeking, we’ve organized topics according to industry, topic, product or content type. Under each category you’ll find content further organized into the following relevant sub-categories.

Industry sub-categories:

  • Aftermarket
  • Convenience Store
  • Distribution and Transportation
  • Food Retail and Grocery
  • Mixed Retail
  • Processing and Industrial
  • Restaurants
  • Waste Disposal

Topic sub-categories:

  • Connectivity, IoT and Insights
  • Energy, Utility and Power Management
  • Food Quality and Safety
  • Innovation
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Refrigerants and Refrigeration Systems
  • Regulations
  • Safety
  • Sustainability
  • Trends

Product sub-categories:

  • Apps, Software and Services
  • Cargo Tracking
  • Commercial Refrigeration
  • Facility Controls and Electronics
  • Industrial Refrigeration
  • Monitoring Solutions
  • Temperature Management

As we continue on this E360 journey together, we will continue to facilitate this important industry dialogue and develop the content that helps us all understand and address the challenges before us. Whether you’re at your computer or on your smartphone, the E360 Content Hub puts the latest developments in HVACR and the food cold chain at your fingertips.

So be sure to add this site to your list of favorites, and welcome to the E360 Content Hub: our industry’s most robust and comprehensive information repository.

 

Connectivity Is on the Menu

Today, many c-stores offer an ever-changing menu of fresh food offerings. The variety of these healthy choices makes hungry customers happier, but creates complications for the c-store chain.Read the full article here.

Read more

How to Transition Into the Future With HFO Blend Refrigerants

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I was recently interviewed for an article in the ACHR News, “HFO Sightings: Refrigerant Retrofits Becoming More Common in Supermarkets,” which discusses steps that can smooth a supermarket owner’s transition to sustainable and compliant HFO blend refrigerants.

How to Transition Into the Future With HFO Blend Refrigerants

What refrigerant changes are coming, and which should you choose?

The R-22 refrigerant is in its final days, and will be officially phased out at the end of next year. There’s also a good chance that hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants will also be phased down in the U.S. in the years ahead, as their use continues to be limited in different countries and regions around the globe. Many supermarket owners see the writing on the wall and are starting to transition to lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants — particularly if they are uncertain about counting on the availability of HFCs or concerned about a potential rise in the cost of these refrigerants. Others simply seek to transition to more eco-friendly refrigerants that align with corporate sustainability objectives.

That is why many store owners are choosing to retrofit their existing equipment to use hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blends, which compare well with HFCs in terms of performance but offer advantages in the forms of energy efficiency, environmental-friendliness and future availability.

However, HFO blends are not drop-in refrigerants. Equipment usually has to be modified before it can be used. Not all equipment is equally easy to retrofit, and not all HFO blends are the same. The ACHR News article lays out clear guidelines to help you navigate among HFO blend options and retrofit processes.

No two retrofits and no two refrigerants are alike

As I point out in the article, HFOs have very different characteristics than HFC or hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants. Some HFOs are classified as A1 (non-flammable) while others fall into the A2L (mildly flammable) category; many have temperature glide characteristics to consider. In addition, many HFO blends have been developed to replace specific HFC refrigerants — for example, R-448A and R-449A are designed to replace R-404A — and there are small capacity and efficiency differences that may vary based on the specific refrigeration application. That said, with the right RFO blend and the right modifications, many systems will continue to operate reliably for years after the retrofits. The age and condition of the equipment should determine if they are good candidates for a refrigerant retrofit.

Making the change

If you are interested in transitioning to an HFO blend, it’s essential to find out if your equipment is compatible with a given blend. There are specific HFO blends designed to replace the most common HFCs, depending on the type of equipment and the refrigeration application. However, not all HFCs can be replaced with an HFO, and in some instances, equipment may require major modifications.

For that reason, you need to consider the specific characteristics of each refrigeration application, the replacement HFO blend, and their impact on system performance to make sure you continue operating within your equipment’s design specifications. For example, a new blend could cause a higher discharge temperature, which could require investing in supplemental compressor cooling. That’s why you should consult with the equipment manufacturer and your refrigerant vendor about compatibility before making any transition.

Manufacturers such as Emerson conduct stringent R&D and testing of RFO blends in their compressors and other components before they are deemed “ready to use” in a retrofit. Because you may be changing the refrigerant for which the units were initially designed, you should also ask about the status of your warranties and the potential impacts before commencing a retrofit.

When you’re ready, the ACHR News article provides a more detailed guide to the retrofit process for you and your refrigeration contractor, from evaluating the system type, design and application for a compatible HFO blend, to charging a unit with its new refrigerant and fine-tuning the equipment.

Retrofitting the future

As regulations surrounding refrigerants continue to evolve, most retailers recognize that moving to HFO blends is one of their best long-term solutions for a large installed base of refrigeration equipment. With a range of safe and environmentally sustainable HFO blends available as replacement refrigerants for HFC-based systems, converting your systems to low-GWP HFO blends is the quickest and cheapest way to achieve a large overall reduction in your future carbon footprint.

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