Skip to content

Archive for

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.

Supermarkets Embrace IoT Revolution

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Grocery store chain owners and managers are embracing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to monitor the performance of their refrigeration equipment. I was recently interviewed by ACHRNews (the News) to discuss how IoT is transforming supermarket operations; this blog is a summary of that article.

Supermarkets Embrace IoT Revolution

When it comes to refrigeration equipment, supermarket operators are primarily concerned about reliable performance. With an aging generation of qualified contractors retiring and a growing shortage of trained technicians to replace them, ensuring reliable performance is becoming more difficult. It’s not surprising that as a result, grocery store owners and managers are embracing the potential of IoT to proactively monitor the performance of refrigeration equipment.

IoT is helping to fill the technician void by allowing store managers to take immediate action when refrigeration problems arise. Unplanned downtime can be extremely costly, and IoT gives operators the ability to head off issues before they become potential emergencies.

With IoT, supermarket managers are equipped with the knowledge to make quick repairs and prevent future errors, both of which deliver critical benefits that directly impact a store’s profitability and brand reputation:

  • Increased refrigeration system uptime
  • Reduction in revenue and inventory losses
  • Assurance of food safety and quality

Emerson’s ProAct™ Enterprise Software and Services is a leading example of robust IoT technology at work. Utilizing our Site Supervisor facility management controller and connected refrigeration equipment via sensors to cloud-enabled data analytics, ProAct provides alert and setpoint management while allowing grocers to take a more reliable, cost-effective, condition-based maintenance approach to refrigeration — and seamlessly transition to complete facility management of critical systems in individual stores and across the enterprise.

In this way, IoT uncovers deeper insights into how a facility is running, giving store managers the tools to take proactive measures to ensure reliability, maximize energy efficiencies, and consistently deliver optimum food quality and safety.

From an enterprise perspective, IoT allows store operators to compare trending and historic performance data at multiple sites to better optimize a grocery chain’s complete store network. Operators can also evaluate equipment upgrades and retrofits to determine which systems deliver the best performance and determine if there are any opportunities for cost savings.

Having access to preventive maintenance and predictive failure alerts is beneficial to store owners and contractors alike. Instead of performing preventive maintenance at pre-determined time intervals, IoT triggers maintenance activities based on actual system performance — giving contractors critical information to help them decide when to perform service before failures occur.

Connected refrigeration equipment also helps operators and contractors identify other indicators of asset health, including: spikes in energy use, increased compressor vibration and excessive noise — all signs that equipment could soon be at risk for failure. Not only can IoT prevent costly refrigeration downtime, it can also reduce the need for expensive emergency service calls.

For the newer generation of service contractors, IoT provides a plug-and-play capability that helps overcome their knowledge gap. With the abilities to collect and store all system-related information, IoT helps replace contractor reliance on the intelligence passed down from older contractors who are approaching retirement.

Learn how IoT and ProAct Enterprise Software and Services can help transform the efficiencies of your supermarket operations

Going Green Helps C-Stores Grow Bottom Line

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Today’s c-store operators are deploying facility management control systems to meet customer demands for eco-friendly initiatives and improve energy efficiencies. This blog is based on a recent article that described how United Dairy Farmers utilizes Emerson’s Site Supervisor to achieve these goals.

Going Green Helps C-Stores Grow Bottom Line

Appealing to eco-conscious consumers is driving c-stores to implement more sustainable practices. From product offerings and water usage to lighting and energy consumption, c-stores are instituting numerous environmentally friendly initiatives, which are not only attracting customers but also reducing operating costs. United Dairy Farmers (UDF) has experienced the benefits of this strategy firsthand.

With nearly 200 locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, UDF’s commitment to energy efficiency has produced dividends to their bottom line. This initiative began nearly two decades ago when UDF’s engineering consulting firm, Springridge Partners, installed an Emerson control system in each store to monitor the performance of HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems. The control systems were set up to alert UDF store managers of any operational concerns, allowing them to take fast preventative maintenance actions and avoid full system failures — thereby saving on product loss, energy and labor costs.

By creating refrigeration setpoints and alarms, store managers receive alerts when a refrigeration system is not operating properly. For example, if case temperatures exceed setpoints, the control system sends an alert to the store manager and maintenance staff, who can then dispatch the appropriate personnel to fix the issue. If compressor temperatures rise or the amperage increases over a short period of time, the system sends alerts of potential compressor failure, giving managers the opportunity to proactively replace it before a downtime incident occurs.

The control system allows UDF and Springridge Partners to determine how much energy the chain is using and make necessary adjustments. One of the first efficiency initiatives they implemented was upgrading the stores’ lighting fixtures to all-LED lighting. Each upgrade of an older UDF store from T-12 florescent lighting to LED delivers nearly 75 percent savings on lighting costs. LED lighting upgrades also reduce associated maintenance and labor costs because lights don’t have to be changed nearly as often.

Recently, UDF upgraded to Emerson’s new Site Supervisor facility control platform in its newest store location in Sharonville, Ohio. This upgrade allows UDF to remotely view the store’s energy usage and investigate consumption variances in real time. Technicians can simply log in to see what’s happening at the store, and then talk to the store manager to decide whether they need a service call. This process also allows employees to make the best use of their time instead of responding to a false alarm.

“The new Emerson Site Supervisor is a continuation of our strategy to integrate technology into our operations. This particular technology will allow our team to be more proactive in addressing issues before they become emergencies, and it allows us to maintain the quality of our products at a very high level,” said Brad Lindner, UDF’s CEO.

What’s more, the system is expected to assist UDF in its plans to implement further reductions in energy usage across its operations.

“By allowing our team to analyze the trend data, we are able to make intelligent decisions regarding setpoints, equipment selections and food quality. We will continue to look for new ways to leverage technology in other areas of our business to increase both awareness and engagement of our staff as a whole,” Lindner said.

Learn more about Site Supervisor and its capabilities to see how it can drive energy efficiency in your operations.

New Research: The Six S’s of Supermarket Refrigeration System Selection Criteria

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Emerson recently completed a research study of leading food retailers to better understand their refrigeration system selection criteria. This blog is a synopsis of those findings.

Copeland

For several years, we’ve seen an evolution of the traditional supermarket concept, driven by a convergence of multiple market influences which include:

  • The migration to urban areas
  • Smaller store footprints
  • Renewed focuses on safety and freshness
  • Greater need for merchandising flexibility
  • The proliferation of omnichannel fulfillment models
  • The lack of qualified service technicians
  • Energy-efficiency goals and sustainability initiatives
  • The internet of things (IoT)
  • Ongoing regulatory uncertainty

Amidst these many changes, refrigeration systems have also evolved to align with modern supermarket operator preferences. To better understand how these preferences are impacting selection criteria, we recently completed a research study of several leading food retailers. We asked them which factors they feel are the most important when considering the implementation of new refrigeration systems.

We compiled results into six key categories, which we refer to as the six S’s of selection criteria. The following is a summary of those findings:

  1. Simple — Operators are seeking to minimize complexities by using systems that are easy to understand and diagnose. Many associate system simplicity with reliability and believe it can be achieved with fewer moving parts, traditional system architectures and proven refrigeration strategies.
  2. Serviceable — Technician familiarity is important to facilitate ease of service and maintenance activities, and to ensure the availability of parts and refrigerants. Engine rooms should be located away from customers and be relatively easy to access.
  3. Secure — Maintaining customer, employee and technician safety while preserving food quality and safety are always top priorities. With many operators now integrating IoT technologies for more effective facility and enterprise management, securing proprietary operational data is also critically important. Operators seek system architectures that can address these multifaceted safety and security concerns.
  4. Stable — Grocers consistently cite system stability and reliability as primary selection criteria. Systems should be capable of maintaining consistent temperatures, delivering predictable performance, and working according to design specifications.
  5. Smart Electronic controls, system connectivity and integration with facility management services via IoT are becoming more important to modern supermarket operators. They’re evaluating self-monitoring systems that give store managers immediate access to issues, allowing them to take prompt actions to protect shoppers, preserve their brands and prevent unnecessary service calls.
  6. Sustainable — For those supermarket operators driven by corporate sustainability objectives or regional regulatory requirements, the push toward lower-GWP refrigeration strategies is continuing in earnest. Sustainability also speaks to the long-term economic viability of the refrigeration selection, as operators must factor in the total cost of ownership throughout the lifecycle. Reducing energy consumption to minimize operating costs is a concern shared by all.

As refrigeration technologies evolve in response to changing market dynamics, look for emerging system architectures that align with these selection criteria. Emerson is addressing the six S’s of supermarket operator concerns by innovating new systems that blend pieces of proven architectures — borrowing from what has worked in the past and improving upon existing technologies. Stay tuned for more information on these new system strategies in the months to come.

%d bloggers like this: