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Posts from the ‘E360 Forum’ Category

Trends Impacting the Supermarket Refrigeration Landscape

JasonBorn_Blog_Image Jason Born | Innovation Lead, The Helix
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

During our E360 Forum last year in Houston, I led a Q&A panel discussion on the trends and market forces impacting the refrigeration landscape in food retail. Sharing their thoughts and insights were industry experts Derek Gosselin, director, technical product support, Hillphoenix; and Brad Thrasher, south central regional sales manager, Zero Zone. Below are some of their views on key trends; view the full E360 Forum presentation.

The Changing Face of Food Retail

Thirsty from wandering the aisles of your local grocery megamart? How about a craft beer break? Or maybe shopping for food just makes you hungry. Grocery shoppers today can virtually eat their way around the world as in-store food bazaars offer freshly prepared ethnic fare: Mexican “street food”, noodle bowls and wood-fired pizza. No time to shop? There’s always curbside pick-up of weekly grocery staples on your way home from work — just click and collect. And today, going small has never been bigger, with millennials and Generation Z flocking to urban areas and higher-density living. It’s no surprise that smaller-footprint grocery and food specialty stores are popping up in mixed-use buildings that were never intended to support things like complex refrigeration or HVAC systems.

Yes, the face of food retail is changing. And with this change comes a host of new opportunities (and challenges) for commercial refrigeration. I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways from this informative question and answer session.

On e-commerce, omnichannel and digital shopping

The first topic of discussion was the impact of the digital shopping trend. Today, more consumers are shopping for groceries online. I asked the panelists how brick-and-mortar retailers were responding.

Thrasher: I’ve seen some reports (FMI-Nielsen) that say that online grocery sales could grab up to 20 percent of the market. That seems pretty aggressive to me. But it’s definitely a rising trend. Traditional food retailers are responding by adding services like curbside pick-up. They are making home deliveries. You have to adapt to whatever direction the market is going.

Gosselin: For the retailers, it’s about what identifies them as different. Amazon is driving sales directly online. What can you offer to differentiate yourself, not only from online shopping, but the competition in your marketplace? Many stores have found success creating destination centers within their produce and other perimeter departments: food preparations, beer and wine tastings, restaurants, meals-to-go programs. That’s where the trends are going to be. And, of particular interest to everyone here: How do make sure you have appropriate refrigeration at these dynamic destination centers so that they can control your food quality and get it efficiently distributed?

On Click & Collect

Building on the idea of curbside service, I asked our panelists about the grocery pick-up lockers that are popping up everywhere and what that might mean for the future.

Gosselin: If you’re going to offer perishables as part of your curbside pick-up, you’re going to need to incorporate refrigeration. And it’s not just with in-store Click & Collect programs. I’ve also seen trends where retailers will place a portable refrigerated unit on your porch, so when they deliver fresh food or frozen items, they have a convenient and appropriately refrigerated location. Most consumers are probably not going to give you the key to their home.

Thrasher: Many stores are looking at self-contained or hybrid systems. Future refrigeration will need to be more flexible so that retailers can expand quickly and easily. If your curbside (pick-up) starts minimally but grows quickly, you’ll want a flexible, easy-to-implement solution so you can move quickly to serve customer demand.

Curbside pick-up is a relatively recent phenomenon. To add it as service, you have to dedicate and adapt more space in your store. But that doesn’t come without cost and questions. As we all know, for everything new you add in-store, something else will probably need to come out.

On the future

Before jumping into an audience Q&A, I asked the panelists how their retailers are dealing with change and some of the main factors driving their refrigeration decisions.

Thrasher: No one knows with certainty where the future will go. Some decisions will continue to be informed by technology and regulatory changes. And, certainly, costs always play a critical role. With refrigerants, for example, as regulations come, they may eliminate possibilities. It’s hard to go “all in” into a refrigerant when it could eventually be obsoleted, driving costs up for replacements. The same concept applies to system architectures.

Gosselin: How do you get in front of change? Do you go micro-distributed? Do you use natural refrigerants? What technologies will be developed in answer to changing rules?

For the end user, the challenge is not only what do they have to do to maintain their current fleet of stores, but what are they going to do for future stores so that they don’t add to the problems? And then how do they do that under a cost-effective and compliant refrigerant management program?

Thrasher: The bottom line is that there’s simply no one solution for everyone. Every retailer has a different set of objectives and challenges, influenced by regulations, technology and costs, but ultimately driven by the evolving needs of the markets they serve.

To take a deeper dive into our discussion, be sure to watch the full E360 Forum session.

 

Beyond Saving: What’s Next in Supermarket Power Management?

JamesJackson_Blog_Image James Jackson | Business Development Manager
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Last fall, a gathering of food retailers, industry professionals and energy experts converged in Houston for our latest E360 Forum. This daylong event was packed with the latest news, views and best practices on hot-button industry issues: regulations, emerging technologies and more.

Matt Smith, project manager for San Diego Gas & Electric’s Emerging Technologies Group, and I explored fresh ideas on what the future holds for supermarket power management. What follows are just a few of our observations.

Future of lighting rebates dim

Utility incentive programs for food retailers, in all markets, are changing. Lighting upgrades and retrofits fueled by rebate incentives were once low-hanging fruit for commercial and industrial consumers alike. However, laborious rebate application processes have contributed to waning interest and participation — especially among food retailers. Policy and regulations have also had an impact. As CFL and LED technologies become standard, rebates are no longer seen as necessary to incentivize adoption and won’t help utilities reach their energy-savings targets. Now energy providers are looking for other more innovative and targeted ways to incentivize efficiency.

Collaboration key to more customer-centric incentives

Admittedly, supermarkets are an underserved market for utility companies. There are simply not a lot of programs designed with the distinct needs of grocery retailers in mind. However, Matt thinks this is changing.

“We’re moving toward a more vertical approach on how we run programs in the sense that we’re serving a customer segment rather than a [category] like refrigeration … That will lead to programs that are better suited for specific customer segments like supermarkets or convenience stores.”

Matt went on to say that utilities want to hear from food retailers. They welcome the opportunities to connect and collaborate — either directly or virtually. Many offer cooperative bodies, online forums and other ways to engage. In California, utilities and other energy professionals have created the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (www.etcc-ca.com) as way to collaborate, develop and facilitate new and emerging technologies. Other regions offer similar resources and channels.

Pay-for-performance programs offer opportunities for efficiency and innovation

Pay-for-performance programs are another relatively recent energy-efficiency trend — one that doesn’t rely on rebates or other incentive-based equipment purchases. It allows participants to identify various energy-saving measures. Payments are made over time and are based on actual energy savings measured at the meter.

The beauty of pay-for-performance programs is that they can offer an integrated, more holistic approach to energy efficiency. Savings can come from building retrofits and equipment upgrades as well as from behavioral or operational and maintenance activities. These programs also shift the responsibility for energy savings from the utilities to energy-efficiency project implementers — and can be real incubators for innovation, efficiency and new technologies. Less prescriptive and more proactive, they offer greater opportunity for collaboration and invention.

Power markets and effective demand management

Many utilities are incentivizing commercial and industrial customers to participate in demand management/demand response programs. These are developed to cut electric consumption during peak times of the day when electricity is in high demand. Effective demand management rewards customers who can conserve when the grid is taxed the most. While a proven practice in other industries and abroad, these programs are not commonly employed among food retailers in the U.S., even though the opportunities and technologies are available.

The high usage of electricity by supermarkets makes it very attractive to participate in these programs. However, reliability and flexibility in a supermarket’s HVACR and energy requirements are absolutely essential for success. Technologies like today’s smart refrigeration systems and thermal storage are ways to optimize thermal potential by shifting electricity usage at expensive times to lower-rate periods.

More grocery retailers of today are looking hard at current HVACR systems and exploring strategies and technologies to shift energy consumption without compromising food safety. We’re excited about the possibilities.

As I shared, “Demand management is becoming a really big deal using supermarkets. I use the term ‘virtual power plant’ pretty easily in this conversation. If you’ve got a flexible store and can provide thermal storage, you could actually use that store as a virtual asset for the utility. [It creates] a kind of push and pull with the power demand … All this stuff is extremely exciting, especially in this segment or business.”

Demand management programs and today’s power markets represent a real opportunity to generate revenue by using thermal capacity, transforming your energy-eating equipment into an energy asset.

To learn more about any of these programs and the emerging technologies that are driving them, watch the full E360 Forum presentation.

Add the Houston E360 Forum to Your Calendar This October

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Marketing Cold Chain Leader
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

JOIN US in HOUSTON, TX, for our next free E360 Forum on Thursday, October 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency North Houston hotel.

E360 Forum blogEverything is bigger in Texas, right? We’re excited to bring our next E360 Forum to the Lone Star State. This year has seen regulatory changes, evolving technologies, emerging trends and more. At this daylong event, we want to hear how you’ve stayed in step with the pace of change. From sustainability initiatives to the rise of smart technology and data-driven decision making, we’ll explore the industry as it is today and examine where it is headed in the future.

The day will be comprised of informative keynote sessions and a panel discussion in the morning with the afternoon open for you to choose from three relevant and interactive breakout sessions. These sessions are designed to give you a chance to have your questions answered and to join in a dialogue with industry experts and your peers.

Houston’s breakout session tracks will focus on refrigeration in food retail, store operations/facility optimization and cold chain management followed by a closing group session on upgrading your existing refrigeration infrastructure.

The goal of this E360 Forum is to evaluate 2018’s trends and tackle the biggest challenges in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning.

What you’ll learn:

  • The latest refrigerant and regulatory updates
  • What’s on the horizon in supermarket power management
  • Trends in supermarket architectures
  • Supermarket upgrades that impact energy efficiency and cost savings
  • How to protect food throughout the cold chain
  • Air management, rooftop efficiency and energy savings strategies for air conditioning

E360 Forums are proven to be invaluable events, providing you with opportunities for one-on-one discussions with experts and peers. Immediately following the event, attendees and presenters can mingle at a networking reception from 4–5:15 p.m. We hope you’ll make plans today to add Houston’s E360 Forum to your list of can’t-miss industry events in 2018.

Understanding Applications for Alternative Refrigerants

jasonprenger Jason Prenger | Refrigeration Engineering Director

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Emerson’s tests* of leading alternative refrigerants suggest challenges as well as benefits. The full video details theoretical calculations and real-world tests.

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Emerson sees migration to lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants as inevitable. Here are some challenges leading A1 alternatives may face, and how to potentially address them.

Heat of Compression

While new HFCs for R-404A offer a lower GWP, alternatives run significantly hotter in both low- and medium-temperature conditions. Compressor cooling will be needed in many low-temperature applications. This is potentially a big deal because some freezer applications can no longer run with non-liquid injected compressors. Full operating envelope capabilities are still possible with liquid injection, but this will likely require additional plumbing and power.

For low-pressure refrigerants, potential replacements for R-134A run at lower discharge temperatures, so there is less of a temperature concern. Our tests* have found the entire operating envelope for R-134A can be achieved with either 450A or 513A.

Capacity and Size

R-404A replacements typically deliver less capacity, especially in low-temperature applications, which will require larger compressors to match existing systems.

During our tests*, traditional HFC refrigerants like R-404A also had little or no temperature glide, so they didn’t affect system sizing. Emerging A1 replacements, however, have glide values of ~5 to ~8 °F. That potentially creates issues when calculating capacity that most of our industry hasn’t had to deal with in the past. Capacity at the midpoint in a medium-temperature system with R-404A, for example, isn’t much different from its dew point compressor rating. But an R-448A system would deliver 3 percent more capacity at the same conditions.

This is even more apparent in low-temperature systems. For example, if you’re sizing an R-448A system off dew point, you might expect capacity loss of 19.4 percent compared to R-404A. In reality, the system sees a drop of about 13.9 percent. While you’ll still have to increase the size of the compressor, using the midpoint can significantly affect your calculations.

In medium-temperature applications, the weighted Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of newer alternatives is similar to R-404A. In lower-temperature applications, there are trade-offs between efficiency and GWP. R-407A compares well with R-404A, but has a higher GWP than other alternatives. R-448A scores better on GWP, but requires more injection and power.

There’s little or no temperature glide in replacements for R-134A, but of the two main candidates, 513A meets or exceeds the capacity of R-134A, while 450A struggles in comparison.

Update on A2L/A3 Refrigerants

This presentation touched only briefly on A2L refrigerants, since they have yet to be listed as acceptable alternatives under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy. However, Emerson continued testing functionality for A2Ls and the A3 R-290 throughout 2017. If you have any questions about these refrigerants, or want any evaluations done, please contact us to learn more about your options.

The full video details theoretical calculations and real-world tests.

*The results presented in this post are based on Emerson testing. Results may vary based on additional testing and application.

 

R-290 in U.S. Commercial Foodservice

AllenWicher Allen Wicher | Director, Foodservice Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Many factors are lining up to help make the case for R-290, from demographics and sustainability to regulations. Watch the full video for more on overcoming common challenges, and to learn how one company, H&K International, successfully made the shift to focusing on R-290-based products.

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Regardless of the EPA’s current or future actions, Emerson sees a significant market dynamic toward sustainability, lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) and higher efficiency — especially in the spaces where     R-290 is acceptable for use.

R-290 is a natural, hydrocarbon-based substance. In addition to its low GWP of 3 and Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0, Emerson’s compressor test labs* found that R-290 yields more than 20 percent better Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) on average compared to R-404A and other HFCs. R-290 systems have been found by many to be highly reliable. Hydrocarbons can be used in multiple applications such as secondary systems, self-contained cases and condensing units.

The current charge limit for R-290 is only 150 grams, which can limit unit size and potentially create significant challenges for makers of stand-alone, medium-temperature reach-ins. Manufacturers of larger equipment are also understandably reluctant to take on the inefficiencies of supporting multiple refrigerants in their lineups.

Emerson is participating on the AHRI Flammable Refrigerants Research Subcommittee which will be investigating the impact of R-290 refrigerant charge limit increases. Increasing the charge limits could open up more applications in ice, commercial reach-ins, and potentially in some packaged solutions. The Subcommittee intends on submitting the results of its investigation for use in evaluating Codes and Standard revisions for IEC, UL, ASHRAE and others.

Most ultra-low-GWP refrigerants (A2L or A3 with a GWP less than 150) have some level of flammability, which may create some challenges. That said, R-290 systems tend to be reliable when proper protocols and procedures are followed. Integrated cases and packaged walk-in systems can use multiple 150g refrigeration systems in a single appliance. These have low- and medium-temperature applications that help to address today’s EPA and DOE compliance challenges, though DOE test procedures are still in development.

H&K International offers a compelling real-world example of the benefits R-290 offers to commercial foodservice. In the United States alone, the company projects its customers will save more than $769,000 in utility costs over the next three years, with additional savings each year R-290 equipment is in operation.

Watch the full video for more on overcoming common challenges, and to learn how one company, H&K International, successfully made the shift to focusing on R-290-based products.

* The results presented in this post are based on Emerson’s testing. Results may vary based on additional testing and application.

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