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Mobilizing the Industry to Address the Technician Shortage

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog originally appeared in our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the issue in its entirety.

With all the talk about the regulatory challenges facing the commercial refrigeration industry today, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the elephant in the room — namely, its growing shortage of qualified HVACR technicians. While we’ve all been justifiably focused on understanding system design changes to reduce energy consumption and new refrigerants to lower our carbon footprint, no one in our industry has stepped forward to lead the charge on solving the technician shortage in a holistic manner.

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At Emerson’s annual contractor roundtable, the lack of qualified technicians was cited as the number one challenge facing contracting business owners. I would argue that it is perhaps our industry’s most pressing issue.

There is no quick fix to this situation. Finding a solution will take months, if not years, and require the commitment of a dedicated organization to drive this effort forward. Through our E360 platform, Emerson is committing to lead this important initiative.

At our E360 Forum in Tucson, Ariz., we took our first steps toward defining the framework of this effort. The event assembled industry stakeholders and vocational school educators for a half-day, E360 Industry Challenge session to examine the current state of the HVACR technician profession. Areas of focus included:

  • Awareness — Do we understand what’s at stake and agree on the problem?
  • Recruitment — How can we attract individuals with aptitude?
  • Training — How can these individuals receive training, and what should those programs look like?
  • Certification — Which types of certification should be made available?
  • Retention — How can we keep individuals engaged throughout their careers?

In 2017, E360 will host a larger Forum focused solely on addressing the technician shortage. This multi-day event will feature an interdisciplinary team dedicated to understanding the problem, defining a working road map for meeting the challenge, and assigning specific actions to solve it.

In addition to industry stakeholders, we will seek insights from previously untapped resources. We will also seek the expertise of educators who have experience in developing curriculum and recruiting candidates. Our technical colleges, vocational schools and trade associations will all play key roles in shaping this piece of the puzzle. We may also benefit from government representatives and/or agencies who may be able to affect policy changes that can further our cause.

Certainly, the current regulatory climate is a dynamic situation that will continue to impact us for years to come, and our E360 platform will remain dedicated to helping you navigate this changing landscape. But without qualified technicians to service the next generation of refrigeration equipment, our industry will have an even bigger challenge.

If you want to contribute to this effort or have ideas that may help, please reach out to us at E360. Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

When the Regulatory Push Comes to Shove

donnewlon Don Newlon| V.P./G.M., Refrigeration Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog originally appeared in one of our E360 Outlook edition. Click here to read the issue in its entirety.

It’s been than more than two years since the Department of Energy (DOE) announced its final rule on energy conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment. At the time of its 2014 announcement, many industry stakeholders expressed their objections to this standard, claiming that it was founded on insufficient premises and nearly impossible to meet.

The industry’s most substantial objection resulted in a formal petition submitted to federal court— one that consolidated the opinions of the American Heating and Refrigeration Institute, some of its member companies and the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers. In August, the Appeals Court ruled in the DOE’s favor, effectively quashing any hopes that the ruling would be amended or delayed. Any lingering questions about the implementation of the DOE’s new efficiency standard have been laid to rest.

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All stand-alone commercial refrigeration equipment released after March 27, 2017, will need to achieve up to 30–50 percent reduction in energy consumption. Some OEMs have already cleared this hurdle. But, if you are an OEM who thought this deadline wouldn’t come to pass, and you have delayed research, design, development and testing of new products, you are no doubt feeling a new sense of urgency. The regulatory push has come to shove.

That’s why the “Countdown to Compliance” feature story in this issue is devoted to addressing this imminent deadline — not only what it means to OEMs, but also evaluating its larger impacts on the industry. In our Helix Highlight article, we’re also introducing a new simulation model for ice machines that can help OEMs with rapid prototyping and allow them to virtually test the efficiency impacts of system design and component changes.

It’s important to remember that the March 2017 compliance date is just the first in a series of regulatory milestones in the journey that lies ahead. We know there will soon be changes in acceptable refrigerants, and we’re well aware of the subsequent energy minimums to be enforced on other classes of commercial refrigeration equipment. The next several years will be full of challenges. Each regulation will need to be approached with specific technologies and strategies to achieve compliance.

Our commitment to helping our partners prepare for each step along the path to compliance is stronger than ever. To Emerson, it’s about more than seeking fresh approaches to system designs; it’s about helping the industry confidently embrace a new era of refrigeration. Regardless of where your company may be on its journey toward compliance, we have the resources and the willingness to help.

150 Years of Innovation at Vilter

AntonioDeLourdes Antonio De Lourdes | Research & Development Lead Engineer, Vilter

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This year Vilter Manufacturing celebrates 150 years! The company’s rich history tells a story of perseverance and drive to cultivate continuous innovation within the industrial refrigeration and gas compression industries.

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HISTORY

  • 1867: Vilter Manufacturing starts as a general jobbing shop that Peter Weisel opened in 1867 in Milwaukee, WI
  • 1880: Ernest Vilter became a partner in the business and soon after introduced the Corliss Engine (1880) and the first Refrigeration Compressor (1882)

After surviving a devastating fire that burned the entire factory down (1892), Vilter focused on rebuilding on a larger site. Landing on their feet, Vilter quickly rose as an industry leader in providing cooling equipment to ice plants, breweries, and packing houses. Vilter even played a crucial role in supporting the United States in World War I and World War II.

 TODAY

To accommodate growing sales, Vilter moved to its current location in Cudahy, WI in 1999. Many changes took place over the next 18 years, including being acquired by Emerson in 2009. Here are several recent innovations:

  • 2005: Began manufacturing high-pressure single screw compressors.
  • 2007: Released Viltech, a more robust controller for reciprocal compressors
  • 2010: Named the official sponsor of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton teams for the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver. Also developed in 2010, were the Vission, Vantage and Vission 20/20 controllers.
  • 2012: Built a 7,000-pound Ammonia test lab
  • 2013: Developed the 401 mm line, the largest single screw compressor
  • 2015: Developed a 50 TR CO2 subcritical compressor, a high suction pressure solution that could handle 750 PSI of suction pressure
  • 2016: Released the VSMC product line

FUTURE

 While continuing to address total cost of ownership (equipment cost, maintenance costs, and energy costs), end-users are now evaluating solutions to lower the charge of ammonia systems and/or completely removing the ammonia out of the occupied spaces. Vilter is developing robust, efficient solutions that meet customer needs:

  • Systems utilizing CO2 as a volatile secondary fluid
  • Cascade systems using CO2 in the low stage
  • Booster transcritical CO2 systems

Vilter is also capturing the voice of the customer by utilizing Virtual Reality (VR). Virtual reality allows customers to visualize the end product early in the design process. This gives customers an opportunity to provide feedback to create designs to fit their requests.

Dedicated to excellence, Vilter continues to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of their industries. Vilter and Emerson look forward with confidence to the next 150 years.

[New E360 Webinar] Evaluating Natural Refrigerant Choices for Small-Format and Foodservice

AllenWicher Allen Wicher | Director, Foodservice Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Join Us for our next E360 Webinar, Opportunities for Natural Refrigerants in Small-Format Applications on Tuesday, May 16 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.

The growing list of eco-friendly refrigerant options is presenting small-format retail and foodservice operators with difficult decisions. With so many low global warming potential (GWP) options from which to choose — including a wide range of new synthetic blends and a few natural alternatives — these small grocers, convenience stores and restaurants are challenged with selecting a new refrigerant alternative that will serve as the basis for their short- and long-term refrigeration platforms. Behind this difficult decision is an active regulatory climate — one with numerous hurdles to clear in the next five years.

First, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a phase-out schedule for the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high GWP. Second, the Department of Energy (DOE) has established new energy consumption guidelines for specific classes of refrigeration equipment. The net result is a sea change to refrigeration architectures in these segments — one where natural refrigerants propane (or R-290) and CO2 (or R-744) will each play an increasingly vital role.

To make this decision even more complicated, these markets not only utilize the widest variety of equipment and system architectures, they are also faced with understanding new refrigerant requirements in each equipment class. With so many moving pieces, it’s easy to see why there’s an unusually high degree of confusion and uncertainty. Even so, many owner/operators will soon be tasked with selecting a new refrigeration platform. And with numerous EPA and DOE deadlines looming, these decisions must be made quickly.

Among the seemingly ever-expanding variety of refrigeration equipment from which to choose, natural refrigerant-based equipment offer the only true “future proof” options capable of taking current regulatory compliance concerns out of the equation. But questions remain about how these emerging systems compare to their HFC predecessors or newer synthetic refrigerant counterparts.

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Our next E360 Webinar will answer many of these questions. Co-presented by me and Andre Patenaude, director of CO2 business development, this informative session will explore the many considerations operators have when moving to natural refrigerant-based systems. Attendees will learn:

  • Evolution of natural systems from large- to small-format retail
  • Market dynamics driving an increase in urban small-format retail
  • Regulatory implications of R-290 and R-744
  • Cost, performance, safety and servicing impacts of natural systems
  • Equipment and system architectures that utilize natural refrigerants

So, if you are a small-format retail or foodservice operator seeking clarification about natural refrigerants, register now to join me and Andre Patenaude for this discussion on Tuesday, May 16 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.

Implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act

JamesMitchell2 James Mitchell | Product Manager, ProAct Enterprise Software and Services, Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. Its goal is to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.  I recently contributed to an article featured in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods discussing the new food safety regulations and best practices for safe food transportation. Highlights from the article are below.

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FSMA has increased the responsibility on collecting and utilizing data, especially product temperature, to ensure that food remains fresh and safe from farm to table. Record keeping is a key component for FDA compliance which means supply chain partners will need to keep accurate documentation to verify the integrity of their foods. Connected solutions are a way to store and analyze data throughout the cold chain process enabling more effective operations and food quality reporting.

Food processors can do their part to ensure food safety during the transportation phase of the cold chain. Below are five best practices to leverage with these regulations in mind:

  1. Establish pre-cooling processes when the container is connected to the cold storage unit.
  2. Ensure perishable products are loaded in a manner that allows airflow in the container.
  3. Develop and communicate proper transport temperatures
  4. Integrate temperature monitoring device and placement procedures.
  5. Check temperature data upon receipt at the distribution center.

As food processors work to comply with FSMA, integrated controls and remote monitoring can assist in addressing potential food safety issues before products leave a processing facility.

Read the full article in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods online here.

For more than 20 years, Emerson has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 

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