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Posts from the ‘Cold Chain’ Category

Mitigate Food Safety Risks to Protect Your Reputation and Bottom Line

Doug Thurston | Vice President of Sales, Cargo Solutions

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

For suppliers of fresh and/or frozen perishable foods, protecting their brand reputation is a top priority. Retailers rely on producers to stock their frozen aisles and perishable sections with the consistently high-quality product that keeps consumers coming back. Many consumers know their favorite brands by name, and when given a choice, will select these brands over other suppliers. This hard-earned loyalty has taken years to develop and must be protected at all costs. If you’re a producer, this means that consistently delivering the safest, freshest foods possible is a fundamental tenet to your success.

Keeping perishable products free from contamination and at the proper temperatures throughout every phase of the cold chain journey is critical to maintaining food safety and maximizing its quality. Over the past several years, when highly publicized incidents of foodborne illness have been reported, produce was often identified as a primary source of contamination. In fact, industry reports estimate that most foodborne illness outbreaks can be attributed to produce.

What’s at stake for producers?

While human costs are incalculable, the financial costs of food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks have far-reaching impacts to growers and their retail partners. According to a recent food industry study, a publicized outbreak of foodborne illness can tarnish a producer’s reputation severely, lead to significant sales losses, and increase the risks of legal, financial and regulatory fines and penalties. And while reputational impacts are also difficult to quantify, consumer sentiments from this study were clear:

  • 44% will avoid the brand for a few months after an outbreak.
  • 20% will never return/use the brand again.
  • 16% will switch to a competitor’s brand.
  • 20% will return once the issue is resolved.

Retail partners may be even less forgiving and seek an alternative provider to mitigate future risks to their customers and operations.

How can you protect your brand?

As a key link in the world’s perishable food supply chain, producers need every tool and technology at their disposal to maximize produce quality and safety. Achieving cold chain safety is a process that starts from the point of harvest and continues through processing, in-transit shipping and cold storage — all before final delivery to grocers and restaurants. To reduce the risks of spoilage or contamination, producers need quality control programs that focus on temperature management and proper handling procedures.

Temperature management. Maintaining precise temperatures is essential for proper cold chain management and to prevent the growth of bacteria from temperature variations in a shipping container. Emerson provides GO real-time trackers and loggers as well as a robust technological infrastructure to:

  • Enable in-transit temperature monitoring
  • Provide visibility to shipper locations
  • Capture historical trip data
  • Support producers’ quality control initiatives
  • Help ensure temperatures are kept at the required setpoints

Proper handling procedures. Improper handling procedures are key contributing factors to foodborne illness within the perishable cold chain. Producers must guard against every opportunity for contaminants to be introduced during each step of the harvest and shipping processes. Key contributing factors include:

  • Cross-contamination in shipping, handling and storage procedures
  • Poor employee hygiene
  • Potential spread of bacterial pathogens that cause food poisoning

Taking a proactive approach to regulatory compliance and food safety

In addition to the financial and reputational risks of a food recall or foodborne illness outbreak, ensuring compliance with food safety regulations is more critical now than ever. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 has ushered in a new era of food safety and shifted the focus from reactive responses toward more proactive measures — a philosophy that many leading producers are also adopting as a best practice.

To implement this approach, suppliers must have the tools to maintain visibility into how their food is handled and stored at every step of the cold chain — which potentially can have as many as 30 changes of custody — and automate the recording and management of this data for reporting purposes.

Emerson is committed to helping producers protect their customers, their reputations and their profits. Our advanced GO real-time trackers and GO loggers — combined with our Oversight software portal — are providing visibility to in-transit perishable shipments to help producers and cold chain stakeholders implement their food safety initiatives. View our food safety infographic to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Earth Day 2021: Partnering With Stakeholders for a Greener Future

John Rhodes |Group President, Cold Chain
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

On this Earth Day (Thursday, April 22), more than a billion people around the globe will take stock of the planet’s health and the actions we all can do to protect the environment.

This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth”. At Emerson, we see this as a call to action that we simply cannot ignore. Climate change and resource conservation are among the most pressing challenges facing our planet. According to NASA, Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record. It is just one of many data points that show we have work to do to reverse a long-term warming trend.

The commercial refrigeration sector has been focused on mitigating climate change for decades. The Montreal Protocol, ratified in 1987, resulted in a successful effort to ban refrigerants with ozone depletion potential (ODP). In 2019, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol created a framework for phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP).

However, phasing down high-GWP refrigerants is not enough to halt climate change on its own. We must also consider the total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) of commercial refrigeration systems — which takes into account direct emissions and the energy required to run these systems.

Emerson is committed to helping our customers to understand, navigate and comply with environmental and regulatory challenges. By providing solutions and guidance that promote sustainability and conservation, we are partners in the race to reduce commercial refrigeration’s TEWI.

Committed to global sustainability initiatives

At Emerson, we share a unified purpose to drive innovation that makes the world healthier, safer, smarter and more sustainable. Our planet is among the five causes supported by this important initiative, which drives us to deliver sustainable solutions that improve efficiency, reduce emissions, and conserve resources.

Around the world, we have intensified our efforts to be more efficient in our energy usage and reduce the intensity of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But we know that’s not enough. Sustainability measures have a greater impact when they are part of a team effort. To that end, we have established an environmental sustainability framework that reflects our drive to be a partner for change. This “greening” framework defines our environmental initiatives according to three categories:

  • Greening OF — driving down our GHG emissions intensity by 20 percent by 2028
  • Greening BY — providing products, solutions and services to help our customers transition to a low-carbon future
  • Greening WITH — engaging with external stakeholders to develop innovative solutions and shape future policy

In short, we are continually innovating and fine-tuning technologies, tools and insights to help operators and businesses meet their own environmental, social and governance initiatives.

For example, consider our efforts in the cold chain. Using technology and data-driven insights, cold chain stakeholders can create greater temperature stability and certainty. This, in turn, can curb energy usage and reduce waste at every step along the journey from farm to consumer and beyond. Our cold chain solutions encompass an ever-widening scope:

  • Managing refrigeration — Continuing advances in refrigeration technology, monitoring and controls help operators to maintain proper temperatures, comply with food safety regulations and reduce spoilage.
  • Optimizing facilities and reducing energy — A commercial refrigeration system accounts for 40 to 60 percent of total electricity consumption in supermarkets. Advanced asset management solutions enable operators to optimize refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems for greater facility and enterprise-wide energy efficiency.
  • Reducing food waste — End-to-end cold chain solutions help ensure refrigeration reliability via equipment, systems and monitoring technologies to extend shelf life and prevent waste.
  • Converting waste to energy — Food recycling turns wasted food into an energy-rich slurry that can be used for energy production.
  • Electrifying the supply chain — Replacing diesel-powered refrigerated transport systems with environmentally friendly electric solutions.
  • Renewing energy — Explore technologies to capture biogas from landfills and transform it into renewable energy.

When component manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), contractors and end users collaborate to develop ambitious solutions, everyone — including the planet — benefits.

Lower-GWP refrigerants continue to factor into sustainability plans

Advanced refrigeration technologies and new architecture strategies are providing operators with greater control over TEWI. However, in the quest for greener refrigeration, refrigerants still take center stage. Global policy and state and new federal rulemaking, including the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act), reassert our country’s commitment to phase down HFC refrigerants.

Many retailers and restaurants are leading the way in exploring low-GWP refrigerant options. For some, this means retrofitting existing refrigeration architectures to transition to lower-GWP A1 refrigerants, such as R-448A/R-449A. Others are diving in by adopting greener options, such as R-290 integrated cases and CO2 transcritical and/or cascade systems. Meanwhile, our industry is closely evaluating the progression of A2L refrigerant safety standards in the U.S., as these mildly flammable alternatives offer very low-GWP levels and are gaining wider adoption in Europe.

Whether you’re looking to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants or lessen your TEWI, Emerson has the products and resources to support your goals. Our solutions can help you to optimize your facility operations, reduce energy use, minimize equipment failures, improve food quality and safety, and achieve regulatory compliance. Together, we can restore our planet for a better future.

 

 

Monitor Cold Chain Temperatures to Keep Perishables Fresh and Safe

Doug Thurston | Vice President of Sales, Cargo Solutions

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

If you are a grower, producer or supplier of fresh or frozen perishable products, maintaining maximum quality and safety throughout the food cold chain is imperative to your success. From harvesting, processing and shipping to cold storage and delivery to grocers and restaurants, the cold chain journey is fraught with potential hazards and can take days or weeks to complete. Not only are there potentially many steps along this journey, but there are also multiple factors that can shorten your product’s shelf life, diminish its quality, or increase the chances of it becoming unsafe to eat.

Maintaining precise temperatures and real-time visibility to in-transit shipper locations are essential for proper cold chain management. Today, leading suppliers are investing in temperature-monitoring and location-tracking technologies to help them ensure that their high-value perishables are kept at the required setpoints for the duration of the cold chain journey. Emerson partners with many of these industry leaders by providing our GO real-time trackers, GO data loggers and the technological infrastructure to support these vital quality control initiatives.

Our robust solutions provide access to real-time, in-transit shipment status and historical trip data that enables stakeholders to track and monitor several key indicators related to food quality and safety, including: en route locations, shipper temperatures, environmental conditions and cargo security. Combined with our cloud-based Oversight software portal, GO real-time trackers and GO loggers are helping perishable food producers to enable continuous cold chain temperature monitoring by recording trip log data and providing live visibility to in-transit shipment locations.

Capabilities include:

  • Monitoring of temperature, humidity and ripening agents in shipping containers
  • Detecting opening of cargo doors and/or unauthorized access with available light sensors
  • Real-time alerts are issued when cargo temperatures deviate from specified parameters
  • Online and mobile access to historic and real-time shipment information, insights and trends
  • User-friendly displays of summaries of preferred shipment data
  • Automated record-keeping of perishable shipments

Make real-time decisions to avert potential food quality issues

Equipped with this mission-critical cold chain data, producers can make informed decisions and respond in real-time to conditions impacting their perishable products. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • Divert a shipment. If a refrigeration issue arises on a refrigerated shipping truck mid-shipment, producers can divert the shipment to a local retailer or cold storage facility to preserve food quality and avoid loss.
  • Locate lost or stolen cargo. If a shipment veers off-course — due to shipper error or potential theft — producers can immediately locate the shipment and take corrective actions.
  • Ensure temperature certainty. If a driver/shipper intermittently deactivates the refrigeration system to save fuel, producers get real-time notifications when the temperature deviates from its setpoint.
  • Resolve disputes. By tracking and automatically documenting the temperature and condition of perishables throughout the cold chain journey, producers can validate the temperatures to help resolve potential disputes on receipt.
  • Support transportation agreements. Many producers are actively participating in transportation and logistics agreements with their retail partners that require in-transit temperature monitoring to ensure supplier cold chain integrity.

At Emerson, we’re providing cold chain solutions to enable robust temperature-monitoring and location-tracking capabilities to help perishable food producers achieve the maximum quality and safety of their products. We’re ready to work with you and your partners to create a strong cold chain that supports your unique requirements. View our food safety infographic to learn more.

 

 

Supermarket Food Safety: Emerson Cold Chain Solutions

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Providing consistently safe and high-quality food in supermarkets is important to each stakeholder in the food retail supply chain. From farm to fork, grocers depend on their cold chain suppliers to collect, share and report on the handling and shipping practices that contribute to food safety. In the first blog based on an article in PerishableNews.com, we examined food retail market trends and risk factors impacting food safety and quality. In this companion blog, we will explore how Emerson is helping food retailers and stakeholders address these challenges at nearly every step of the food supply chain.

Harvest and processing

The potential decay of perishable produce starts the moment it is picked, but this can be stunted by controlling temperatures and the ambient environment via: flash cooling/freezing; temporary staging in storage coolers; and pre-cooling shipping containers. Shipping containers may be modified with ripening agents, and processors often measure the levels of ethylene, a natural gas that can accelerate ripening.

Emerson provides temperature-probing devices that can be used to measure internal “pulp” temperatures prior to and during the staging and loading processes. Our real-time temperature monitoring and tracking devices can be activated inside a shipping container to immediately begin monitoring location, temperatures and other environmental conditions of in-transit perishable shipments.

Transportation

Food’s journey to supermarket shelves can last anywhere from days to weeks — by truck, sea and/or air — and grocers rely on their shippers to provide an unbroken chain of temperature certainty. Loading best practices promote airflow and shipments to be “load locked” in order to limit excess vibration. Transport containers must be able to maintain temperatures and provide visibility into container conditions. Mixed-load cargos may have different refrigerated temperature zones within the same shipment.

Emerson’s field-tested, proven compression technologies can withstand the rigors of the road while helping operators to ensure that their transport refrigeration systems preserve product at specified temperature ranges. Temperature monitoring, logging and tracking devices — combined with our cloud-based software portal — can provide real-time temperature and location conditions of product in-transit. The software enables live remote monitoring and issues alerts to stakeholders based on user-defined parameters, such as: temperature excursions; changes to shipping atmosphere; vibration; security breaches; and shipping delays.

Cold storage distribution centers

Upon receipt of food at a cold storage facility, handlers must inspect product temperatures and conditions, including pulp temperatures with probing devices, and trip data from logging and tracking devices. Relying on only the ambient air temperature of the shipping container is not an accurate measure, as some carriers may turn off the refrigeration system during shipping to preserve fuel. After inspection, handlers must promptly transfer perishable cargo into a designated cold storage temperature zone. The entire process must adhere to each facility’s established Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and/or Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventative Controls (HARPC) plans.

Emerson’s logging and tracking devices give end-users the ability to maintain live, remote visibility for monitoring the temperatures and locations of their in-transit shipping containers. In cold storage facilities, our compression and refrigeration technologies help operators to establish and maintain proper temperatures in various cold storage zones. Robust facility monitoring solutions help operators to remotely oversee conditions, ensure proper temperatures, and automatically record temperatures for use in HACCP reporting.

Grocery stores

From the moments perishable shipments are unloaded in supermarkets, operators take ownership of food quality and safety. This starts with inspection — checking pulp temperatures and trip data logs — and continues with the prompt transfer of perishables into designated cold storage coolers or freezers. Once in cold storage, control platforms help retailers to monitor perishable temperatures and optimize food quality.

Refrigerated storage and staging coolers for click-and-collect fulfillment must have sufficient capacity to handle fluctuations in order volumes and frequent opening/closing of walk-in doors. Order-picking processes and customer pick-ups and deliveries must be optimized to ensure safe handling and proper temperatures. Supermarket food preparation introduces hot-side complexities as consumers look to grocers for home meal replacements. Staff must be trained in safe cooking best practices — such as those provided by the U.S. National Restaurant Association’s (NRA’s) ServSafe® certification course — and cook-and-hold procedures should also follow established HACCP/HARPC plans.

In addition to our proven compression and refrigeration technologies, Emerson solutions address a variety of modern supermarket requirements. These include condensing units with variable-capacity modulation to precisely match refrigeration load requirements and flexible distributed architectures that can augment existing refrigeration systems. We also offer a suite of temperature-probing devices to help grocers automate the recording of prepared food temperatures and assist grocers with food safety and process compliance concerns.

Our powerful facility management, monitoring and control platforms address both existing and emerging food retail complexities. These tools provide near real-time access to critical information to help retailers track, triage and respond to issues pertaining to food quality and safety compliance — in individual stores and across their multi-site networks. In addition, these control platforms utilize alarms, notifications and remote access to provide end-users with continuous building and refrigeration monitoring at any retail location.

Connectivity drives cold chain visibility

Modern food retailers are held to increasingly higher food safety and quality standards. Store operators, consumers and health inspectors all demand greater transparency into the food supply chain and improved visibility of food’s journey from farm to fork. With today’s connected internet of things (IoT) monitoring and tracking infrastructures, operators now have the potential for visibility into each step of food’s journey — and even the possibility for comprehensive cold chain traceability. Emerson provides the refrigeration technologies and IoT-enabled infrastructures to help stakeholders at each point monitor, control and track a variety of conditions necessary for preserving food safety and quality.

 

 

 

Pandemic Creates Lasting Impact on Food Retailers and Commercial Refrigeration

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

The year 2020 was an inflection point for the food retail industry. While many restaurants closed for in-person dining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, supermarkets and other food retailers were considered essential businesses and remained open. But for those responsible for these operations, this meant quickly adapting to new fulfillment scenarios, as many shoppers sought online grocery-ordering options such as curbside pickup and/or home delivery. I recently contributed to an ACHR The NEWS article where we discussed how the events of 2020 changed the food retail landscape and will continue to impact the commercial refrigeration industry in 2021 and beyond.

Online Retail Drives Refrigeration Decisions

As vaccine distribution increases and the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully recedes, the impacts of the pandemic will be felt well into the future. From a food retail perspective, the acceleration of e-commerce adoption appears to have permanently altered consumers’ buying behaviors and shifted the retail landscape.

According to a 2020 study by grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research firm Incisiv, the growth rate of online grocery retail is expected to make up 21.5% of all grocery sales by 2025, representing a more than 60% increase compared pre-pandemic projections. As consumers continue to embrace both click-and-collect and home delivery options, many leading food retailers are rethinking their refrigeration strategies and expanding their fulfillment capabilities to meet both near-term and long-term projections.

The sheer volume of e-commerce sales took many food retailers by surprise in 2020 and has led them to take steps to shore up their online order fulfillment infrastructures. These include investments in additional refrigeration equipment and cold storage space — whether for in-house, click-and-collect operations, micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) or even dark stores.

In addition, many retailers are evaluating their existing systems to determine if there’s available capacity to potentially tap into. Where there is not, distributed strategies such as stand-alone condensing units or self-contained cold storage are ideal solutions for creating additional refrigeration capacity. Of course, any new system designs or major retrofits will require more thorough consideration with respect to how these systems would align with retailers’ long-term sustainability goals.

It’s also important for contractors to continue playing a key role in helping retailers to make these decisions. They must be prepared with the knowledge and expertise in order to advise retailers on all the available short- and long-term refrigeration strategies — from self-contained propane cases to full CO2 systems to more distributed equipment architectures.

Cold Chain Data Tracking, Monitoring and Control

Another likely permanent impact will be the increased collective focus on cold chain tracking, monitoring and data analytics. Vaccine distribution challenges have highlighted the importance of monitoring product temperatures during transit – similar to the cold chain journey for food.

The adoption of temperature tracking, monitoring and control technologies used for the vaccines will likely accelerate the integration of these tools within the food cold chain — from farm to fork. This presents an opportunity to improve the working relationships, cooperation and technologies among producers, shippers and retailers to create an unbroken chain of temperature certainty throughout the food cold chain.

With supermarkets becoming one-stop shops for essential consumer needs — from freshly prepared and perishable foods to dry goods, pharmaceuticals and mini health care clinics — retailers have a variety of data streams strictly related to temperatures that they need to manage and monitor in order to preserve food quality and safety, as well as ensure proper vaccine storage. They also need to continuously track and monitor the performance of essential equipment and systems such as refrigeration, HVAC and lighting.

Fortunately, technological improvements and increased adoption of the internet of things (IoT) are giving supermarkets the abilities to capture, access, interpret and analyze data to deliver higher-value facility management solutions. Emerson’s Lumity™ supervisory control platform is designed to aggregate these data streams into consolidated views and provide insights to help retailers simplify their increasing facility management challenges.

From the perspectives of cold chain management, power management, equipment performance and preventative maintenance, we’re helping supermarket operators to bring all these aspects together within one cloud and one view — with robust data analytics to provide insights into each of these critical areas.

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