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Podcast Recap: Talking the State of Commercial Refrigeration With ACHR News

This blog summarizes a discussion I had as a guest on The NEWSMakers podcast, which is produced by ACHR News. Click here to listen to the podcast in its entirety.

benpicker Ben Picker | Product Manager – Copeland Condensing Units

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently sat down with the staff of The NEWS to record an episode of The NEWSMakers podcast, where we discussed the state of commercial refrigeration and its role within the larger food supply chain. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from regulations and changing consumer preferences to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cold chain temperature monitoring. What follows is a summary of that conversation.

Beyond Iot to digital transformation in the modern supermarket

Regulatory landscape

The impacts of federal and state regulations continue to be felt. While recent rulings have vacated some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) previous refrigerant regulations, California is not only maintaining those guidelines, it’s introducing additional mandates for more stringent requirements when dealing with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant use, charge limits and leak detection. Department of Energy (DOE) energy-efficiency regulations remain in effect and are driven by equipment class and size; it’s important for manufacturers and end users to understand how these energy targets impact their specific applications. In addition, there are standards to ensure the safe operation of equipment and preserve food safety.

Changing consumer demands

The market has changed dramatically in recent years, primarily driven by shifting consumer preferences. Some examples include: convenience stores evolving to provide higher-quality, fresh food items; fast-casual restaurants offering home delivery; and grocery stores adding Click and Collect, online shopping options. These business models are placing new pressures on retailers to consistently provide the highest-quality products. If a consumer has a bad experience, then word of mouth quickly spreads, which may damage the offending store’s reputation.

IoT impacts

The prevalence of electronic controls and equipment connectivity via IoT is influencing the entire HVACR industry. In commercial refrigeration, controls are being developed and utilized to meet regulations and ensure product safety and quality. Cold chain technology is now available to monitor and track the condition of food in real time — from the farm to the storage facility to its retail destination — to determine if correct temperatures are maintained. This connectivity helps businesses make real-time decisions. If they see temperatures drifting out of preferred ranges, they can divert shipments to the nearest retail location or recall them altogether.

The abilities to monitor equipment and see its performance at any given time are also impacting maintenance procedures. With modern controls, it’s now possible to monitor system health and detect trends well in advance of a potential failure. This allows end users to better schedule their maintenance activities and prevent equipment failures — especially ahead of peak sales opportunities, such as holiday weekends or new product introductions or menu items.

Security concerns

Anytime you’re creating an unsecured internet pathway to sensitive information, there’s always a concern. But there are options to avoid these challenges. One simple solution is built-in cellular modems on equipment, allowing each piece to act independently from the system containing information. It’s also important to understand that different applications may require different solutions, depending on which services are available in a particular location. We recommend consulting with a network security professional within your region to develop a program that best suits your individual needs.

Emerson’s response to cold chain challenges

Emerson is looking at the cold chain from a holistic perspective — from the time food leaves the farm to when it hits the fork — and we’ve reorganized our entire organization to support the various affected stakeholders. Through strategic acquisitions and the continued development of new technologies, we can monitor and preserve food quality along every step of food’s journey. We’re making IoT-enabled, smart equipment to allow customers to diagnose the health of equipment and see its historic and real-time performances. And, we have comprehensive services that provide enterprise-wide monitoring of mission-critical systems across a network of stores, prioritizing alarms and fixing potential issues before they become problems.

 

A Digital Transformation in the Cold Chain

John Rhodes_Blog John Rhodes |Group President, Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Integration of digital technology has dramatically changed the cold chain landscape. This blog summarizes my recent article, “Digital Transformation Helps Drive Tighter Cold Chain Integration”. Read the full article here.

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Digital technologies, data mining and analytics tools are dominating the modern economy, transforming nearly every aspect of how we operate. Businesses are beginning to realize the power of data and how it can be used to improve the customer experience, grow market share and improve operational performance — all culminating in what’s commonly being referred to as the digital transformation. This transformation has the potential to bring significant benefits to several areas of the industry, including food safety, energy conservation and refrigerant management, to name a few.

Today, retailers have access to more data than ever before, allowing for new opportunities to innovate and implement more comprehensive management in the cold chain. Rather than narrowing focus onto one section of the business, operators can now think across entire enterprises and supply chains for broader insights and deeper intelligence into how their stores are operating and learn where they can improve and innovate.

One factor that makes this transformation so interesting is the amount of commitment industry leaders are putting into developing deeper, stronger relationships with their customers, rather than using the newfound data to exploit sales opportunities. Customers have rewarded this dedication and innovation with increasing loyalty — which translates into better sales.

A recent example of the potential data has to help solve problems in the cold chain was the concern surrounding an outbreak of foodborne illness from romaine lettuce purchased at grocery outlets. After customers got sick and the story hit the 24/7 news cycle, many demanded to know where the contamination had occurred. In this case, technology and data were essential in tracking the instance of contamination to a specific farm. But this example is just the tip of the iceberg.

A similar, data-driven approach can allow retail stores to reduce their energy costs during peak demand periods. By connecting building management systems (BMS) to the local energy provider, companies can limit or avoid “peak time surcharges” that are assessed when the greatest amounts of energy are required. The BMS receives notices from the utility when demand reduction opportunities arise and, through a demand response program, retailers can automatically shut down non-essential equipment and optimize energy use.

The amplitude of data available from this digital transformation is ushering in an intriguing period in cold chain history. At Emerson, we see this happening not in grandiose, intangible, all-consuming approaches, but in the expansion of existing, proven technologies coupled with the use of emerging digital assets to create new insights.

As the iterative development of connected, adjacent systems accelerates and becomes more powerful, there will be opportunities to revolutionize how companies operate. We at Emerson are here to help you make this critical cold chain transition a reality for your business.

 

Innovative Solutions for Cold Chain Application

Devin Hwang | Business Development Manager, Cold Chain, Northeast Asia
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
Innovative Solutions for cold chain application

Every step in the cold chain presents a significant challenge to the overall quality of your perishable goods. One minor error at any stage could mean the difference between safe and wasted shipment. Emerson combines the experience and expertise to provide solutions that help ensure end-to-end quality, which does not come at the expense of your system’s performance and satisfaction.

At our Emerson Connect event in Kaohsiung, Taiwan last month, key players in the Taiwanese cold chain and retail industry, together with our partner Sunland, took part in the discussions to learn more about our innovative products and solutions.

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Innovative Solutions for cold chain application 3

Join us at our next Emerson Connect Innovation event in Bangkok, Thailand as we showcase our latest products and solutions to meet your cold chain and retail needs, including:

Wholesalers, OEMs, Consultants, and contractors are highly encouraged to join us.

Our next Emerson Connect Innovation will be held on July 19, 2018, at the Grand Ballroom III of Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, 2 Charoen Krung Road Soi 30 (Captain Bush Lane), Siphya, Bangrak, Bangkok.

Using Technology to Ensure Food Supply Chain Safety

markdunson Mark Dunson | Group President, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Food safety is more prominent than ever in the minds of consumers. Evolving technology is giving industry leaders opportunities to streamline their operations, while government regulations are emphasizing the need for security in food safety. To read the full article featured in Food Safety Magazine, click here.

The human Equation of Facility Management

With trends shifting toward health-conscious lifestyles, consumers have become much more discriminatory about the quality (and especially) the safety of the food they eat. The concept of food supply chain traceability has allowed food producers to ensure food safety at every step of food’s journey along the supply chain and provide consumers with transparency about the food they’re eating.

Along with consumer preferences, there are also regulatory drivers pushing for better traceability. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), enacted in 2011 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), introduced the most sweeping changes in food safety legislation in recent history. With the FSMA, the FDA had a legislative mandate to help secure food safety throughout the entire supply chain — with renewed emphases on temperature management, tracking and recording. Despite uncertainty in terms of the rigor in which the ruling will be enforced, many businesses are getting ahead of legal enforcement and have already begun adopting changes.

Driven by new temperature management technologies and a desire to adhere to FSMA guidelines, automated temperature monitoring is finding broader adoption throughout the supply chain — from harvest and processing to transportation, post-processing, distribution and receiving. Here are a few examples:

Transportation pallet tracking

Many leading growers have transitioned to using real-time trackers the size of a deck of cards at the transportation pallet level to determine conditions for food freshness throughout its journey. Previous methods included hand-recording temperatures at load and unload, or analog sensors that changed colors to detect out-of-range temperatures.

Refrigerated container management

Shipping companies are deploying remote monitoring systems for intermodal containers. When they detect problems with the compressor, system runtimes, interior temperature or lighting conditions, they can route the container for repair. This same data is also valuable to monitor the condition of perishable foods transported within the container.

Automated systems in final distribution

Even short periods of out-of-range temperatures potentially increase food safety risks. Loggers record temperature conditions throughout the journey to a retail destination and connect automatically to Wi-Fi based systems at a final receiving point to provide nearly instant validation of safety. Shorter trips mean there’s less of a need for always-on functionality, potentially reducing the cost of the solution.

Retail stores and restaurants

Building controls are gaining additional adoption outside the grocer space to help maintain food safety. Even systems that still rely on manual actions by store employees can be augmented with IoT- and cloud-based solutions, allowing for direct recording to the cloud and providing store operators with information that can be leveraged to help manage FSMA’s food safety/documentation requirements.

What’s next in food safety? It’s a safe bet to assume that stakeholders throughout the supply chain will make better use of automated and shared data, applying temperature management and data gathering solutions to the entire food supply chain, rather than individual silos. It’s also becoming more likely that the world’s largest retailers will voluntarily seek approaches that embrace a more complete food chain interdependence — including the needs to capture and share data at every step. Food quality and safety are becoming true brand differentiators, and the effective use of temperature management automation throughout the supply chain could go a long way toward helping build consumer confidence.

To read the full article featured in Food Safety Magazine, click here.

A Shift in Industrial Refrigeration

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I discussed the large industrial refrigeration market and the use of natural refrigerants in the Accelerate America article entitled, “Exploiting CO2on pg. 16.

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For decades, ammonia (aka NH3 or R717) has been the backbone of many cold storage applications in the large industrial refrigeration market. More recently, the increasing popularity of CO2 (R744) in commercial applications has led refrigeration manufacturers to look for ways to incorporate this natural refrigerant in industrial systems. With the technology to combine the benefits of both refrigerants and facilitate this transition coming to fruition, a shift in the industry may be coming.

NH3 has excellent performance efficiency and ultra-low environmental impact, making it a near-perfect refrigerant. However, its toxicity causes hesitancy in use. Tightening regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sought to improve the safety of NH3 systems, requiring operators to provide documentation for systems charged with at least 10,000 pounds of ammonia.

Enter NH3/CO2 cascade technology, a system architecture that has been successfully deployed in many commercial applications with HFCs on the high side, to leverage ammonia’s efficiency and limit the potential for toxic exposure to workers and product spoilage.

Transitioning to the large industrial market does cause several concerns that need to be addressed, such as:

  • Finding a way to deliver high-tonnage refrigeration capacity while keeping ammonia charges low
  • Ease documentation requirements
  • Lowering the potential for exposure
  • Complexities related to installation, commissioning, operation and servicing requirements
  • Potential heat exchanger leaks of CO2 and NH3 that can mix and create ammonium carbamate, resulting in system failure
  • Maintaining uptime during the transition from a legacy system to a new cascade system

Self-contained systems

Meeting high-tonnage, cold storage requirements while addressing the known operational challenges of ammonia and CO2 meant that manufacturers have had to expand upon the existing cascade architecture. Developing a self-contained system that integrates an entire NH3/CO2 cascade system into a modular refrigeration unit seemed to be the best solution.

Designed to be located on the rooftop or next to a building of a cold storage facility, this modular refrigeration unit combines CO2 and NH3 compression technologies and electronic controls in a cascade system that contains two independent CO2 and NH3 circuits with separate condensers and evaporators (including a shared cascade heat exchanger).

The self-contained, modular unit essentially serves as the system’s mechanical room, enabling installation and efficiencies typically not found in traditional systems. Existing facilities can even install this system while their legacy system is still running, positioning the unit at the desired rooftop location and connecting the ductwork in as little as a few days. Then, as soon as the facility manager is ready, he/she can simply shut down the old system and let the new system assume refrigeration duties.

The simplicity of this drop-in, plug-and-play design also lowers maintenance requirements while improving serviceability throughout the lifecycle.

Read the full article, Exploiting CO2 on pg. 16, to find out other ways the industry is working to address these concerns and how natural refrigerants are driving innovation.

 

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