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Posts from the ‘E360’ Category

Protecting Food on the Move

AmyChildress Amy Childress | Vice President of Marketing & Planning, Cargo Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The cold chain in perishable food distribution is a complex and delicate thing. Just one hour out of optimum temperature range can have significant impact on a product’s shelf life. More serious cold chain lapses can pose waste, food safety and environmental issues, causing businesses and entire industries financial and reputational harm. At the E360 Forum in Houston last fall, I shared common cold chain pitfalls, real-world case studies and best practices for successfully navigating this complicated process. Read more below, then view the full E360 Forum presentation.

Those blueberries on your cereal? They’re from Chili. That orange? South Africa. Today’s food travels incredible distances to get to you. And behind your grilled salmon supper, there’s a dizzying array of complex cold chain management and monitoring that needs to happen to get it to your table — safe and tasty.

Industry experts say that from farm (or ocean) to your fork, there can be as many as 15–20 transfer points (hand-offs) in the cold chain process, encompassing trucks, containers and even planes. Each stop increases the risk of food safety incidences, spoilage and lost profits.

What’s at stake when the cold chain breaks?

Food and resource waste

One of the more frustrating things to me is the amount of time, money and resources spent producing food and getting it to where it needs to go — only to have it spoil by the time it gets to the point of sale. Think of all the work, expenses, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions it requires to get product from California to the East Coast. When there’s a break in the cold chain, all of that time, effort and money could potentially be lost.

According to Food Foolish by John Mandyck and Eric Schultz, the amount of food waste in the supply and distribution of food is staggering. They estimate that:

  • 1 billion metric tons of food is lost or wasted each year
  • One-third of food produced each year is never eaten
  • 800 million people in the world are chronically hungry

In addition, food waste has a devastating impact on the environment in terms of water waste and the creation of greenhouse gases. Mandyck and Schultz go on to say: “If food waste were a country by itself, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the U.S.”

Financial impacts

I don’t need to tell you there’s big money in each trailer transporting food commodities across the country and around the world. If there’s a break in the cold chain, the financial impacts can be painful. Check out the food value estimate per truckload:

  • Beef — $150,000 to $250,000
  • Poultry — $60,000 to $225,000
  • Pork — $80,000
  • Strawberries — $20,000
  • Bananas — $16,000

Food safety and public health

According to the CDC, about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. Not all issues are directly attributable to compromised cold chain processes. But with elevated temperatures, a very small situation can grow exponentially in a very short time. By properly managing temperature, you can mitigate and isolate a potential food incident before it can spread.

Conquering the cold chain

We know what can go wrong when temperatures aren’t right. But how can broken links in the cold chain be prevented? To answer that, here are a few best practices for facilitating good temperatures in transit.

  • Start with appropriate pre-cooling processes. Remove field heat from product as soon as possible, pre-cool containers, and “pulp” or take product temperature to ensure it’s at the correct setpoint.
  • Follow proper loading practices for optimal air circulation.
  • Establish and communicate proper transport temperatures; pay attention to mixed loads.
  • Employ independent temperature-monitoring devices and proper placement procedures.
  • Check temperature history and place immediately into cold storage at the distribution center.

Transport from the distribution center to the retailer needs to be closely monitored as well. In fact, this is one of the areas where we see the most breakdowns: the transfer at the final point of sale. Deliveries typically come in very late and perishables are not put into cold storage quick enough.

Baked bananas and blockchain

One of our customers recently shared a story about a load of bananas they received. The retailer was using one of our real-time monitoring devices and knew before the containers were unloaded that bananas had basically cooked in transit. Armed with real-time temperature data, they declined the shipment, saving $28,000 on two loads — loads they may have previously accepted.

Digital time and temperature loggers, real-time trackers with proactive alerts have been a part of perishable loads in transit for years. As illustrated by the story above, they have been instrumental in identifying temperature flux and allow retailers and suppliers to be more preventive and proactive.

Emerson is leading exciting developments in analytics based on aggregated data from these devices. Vast amounts of in-transit time, location and temperature intelligence are now stored in the cloud — and can be tapped for deeper cold chain insights on best routes, carriers, shipping lanes and suppliers.

Another technology getting a lot of industry buzz is blockchain. (It’s not just for cryptocurrency.) Blockchain offers an incredibly secure platform to share deep and detailed data across all the supply chain players. It lets disparate, previously siloed, entities share common, unalterable data on a common framework. We’re currently working with IBM to create food freshness applications and shelf-life predictors that could be shared across the blockchain platform. And that’s only the beginning.

To hear more best practices, cold chain success stories and even a few cautionary tales, be sure to view the full E360 Forum presentation here.

 

[Webinar Recap] Preparing for the DOE’s New WICF Energy-Efficiency Standards

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently conducted an E360 Webinar about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new energy-efficiency standards on walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). The webinar was presented to help industry stakeholders prepare for compliance by reviewing the ruling’s scope, definitions and potential industry impacts. View an archive of the webinar here and/or read a summary of its key takeaways below.

Ruling overview

On June 3, 2014, the DOE published its final rule on prescribed performance-based standards for WICFs, which specifically apply to the condensing units and unit coolers used in these systems. Then, on July 10, 2017, the DOE issued an update to the ruling and released its minimum efficiency test procedures, which they termed the annual walk-in efficiency factor (AWEF).

AWEF is a metric created by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) designed to help manufacturers validate compliance. As defined by the AHRI 1250-2009 standard, AWEF minimum efficiency requirements for dedicated condensing units vary per capacity and application (e.g., indoor, outdoor).

Although the compliance date for medium-temperature, dedicated condensing system applications has been in place since 2017, the DOE has established the following enforcement dates for 2020:

  • 1: for medium-temperature WICF applications
  • July 10: for low-temperature WICF applications

Scope and definitions

The scope of the ruling pertains to enclosed WICFs that can be walked into and have a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet. In addition, the ruling applies only to those condensing units and unit coolers designed to provide one refrigerated load. Products designed and marketed exclusively for medical, scientific or research purposes are excluded from this ruling.

According to the DOE ruling, 32 °F is the point of differentiation between walk-in coolers and freezers. A walk-in cooler is defined as an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures above 32 °F. A walk-in freezer is defined as an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures at or below 32 °F.

The DOE WICF ruling applies to both new and retrofit refrigeration systems, including:

  • Condensing units that are assembled to construct a new WICF
  • Condensing units that are used to replace an existing, previously installed WICF component (retrofit)
  • Condensing units used within packaged systems

Important note: While this does mean that condensing units manufactured after the ruling’s enforcement dates must comply, it does not exclude wholesalers and contractors from using and stocking condensing units that were manufactured before the DOE enforcement dates.

Industry impacts

With the DOE enforcement dates quickly approaching, stakeholders throughout the commercial refrigeration industry need to understand the ruling’s potential impacts on their businesses. Of course, this starts with equipment manufacturers that must not only manufacture compliant products, but also demonstrate certification and compliance through the following: registration with the DOE’s Compliance Certification Management System (CCMS) database; proper disclosure in marketing materials; and permanent nameplate marking.

Impacts to other key stakeholders include:

  • Wholesalers — must be prepared for changing inventories and begin carrying only AWEF-compliant products if they are manufactured after the 2020 enforcement date
  • Contractors — must understand that if they replace a condensing unit with one manufactured after the DOE enforcement date, it must be an AWEF-compliant unit
  • Design consultantsmust be well-versed in the regulatory impacts to advise end users in the selection of energy-compliant, sustainable systems
  • End usersneed to consider selecting future-proof equipment that aligns with their long-term refrigeration strategies

Regardless of your specific role, Emerson offers additional training, resources and expertise to help you prepare for compliance and understand the impacts of the DOE’s WICF ruling. For more information, please view the webinar archive or download our DOE WICF ruling FAQ document.

 

[New E360 Webinar] Preparing for DOE Compliance on Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

In 2020, the Department of Energy (DOE) will begin enforcing its new energy-efficiency standards on walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). With the compliance deadline now on the horizon, the commercial refrigeration supply chain is taking a closer look at the ruling and preparing for its impacts. Our next E360 Webinar, on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, will shed light on the details of this rulemaking.

Improving the energy efficiency of refrigeration equipment is a goal shared by most stakeholders in the commercial refrigeration supply chain. But when specific energy reductions are mandated by DOE regulations on a commonly used class of equipment, then these goals take on a much greater sense of urgency. The DOE’s 2020 WICF mandate is no exception.

Generally speaking, the ruling will require 20–40 percent energy reductions in WICFs smaller than 3,000 square feet. But, like many regulations of this kind, when you start digging into the details, you’ll find that they’re complicated and often difficult to interpret.

In our next E360 Webinar, I’ll provide a detailed overview of the DOE’s WICF ruling and discuss how it can impact you — regardless of whether you’re an equipment manufacturer, contractor, end user, design consultant or wholesaler. So, if you’re unsure about how to prepare for compliance or just curious how the ruling may impact you, then be sure to join me on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative webinar. Attendees will learn:

  • The full scope of the WICF rulemaking
  • Definitions of key terms, concepts and language used
  • Final enforcement dates per equipment category
  • Examples of WICF system configurations
  • Required efficiency levels per the Annual Walk-in Efficiency Factor (AWEF) metric
  • Impacts to various stakeholders throughout the supply chain
  • How to verify and ensure compliance

As with all E360 Webinars, we will allocate time after the presentation for a question and answer session. To make sure we’re able to address your specific questions, this session will be supported by additional Emerson experts on the DOE WICF regulation, including: Roxanne Scott, senior lead project engineer; and Brian Buynacek, senior consultant. So, register now for this informative webinar and let us help you prepare for the DOE WICF compliance deadline.

 

GreenChill Hosts Emerson-led Webinar on Natural Refrigerant Architectures

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

My colleague John Wallace, director of innovation, retail solutions, and I recently partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program to present a webinar about making the transition to an effective refrigerant architecture. In it, we discussed leading natural refrigerant systems, centralized and distributed options, and the controls schemes that support them. What follows are the key takeaways from that discussion, which you can view here in its entirety — last bullet under ‘Webinar Archives’.

Over the past decade, the transition toward natural refrigerants has been driven by a combination of dynamic market trends, which include: global refrigerant and food safety regulations, rapidly changing consumer expectations and corporate sustainability goals. This historic transition has helped accelerate the adoption and investigation of “future-proof” natural refrigerant architectures.

Regulatory drivers of transition to naturals

In the U.S., the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has not only fully implemented the now defunct EPA rules designed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), it is also actively working to enact more aggressive measures that would greatly impact future refrigeration system architectures. One current proposal under review would take effect in 2022 and mandate the following:

  • Systems charged with more than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 150 GWP
  • New refrigerant sales with less than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 1,500 GWP

But California is not alone in these initiatives; there are currently 25 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance which have vowed to follow its lead.

Since natural refrigerants are among a very small list of viable options capable of meeting the above criteria, the commercial refrigeration industry is likely to see an increase in system architectures designed to utilize natural options. These include centralized architectures for larger-charge systems and distributed (or micro-distributed) options for smaller-charged system types.

Leading natural refrigerants

When we think of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration, we are typically referring to R-744 (CO2 aka carbon dioxide), R-290 (refrigerant-grade propane) and R-744 (ammonia). Let’s look at their unique characteristics and how they can be effectively utilized.

CO2 has proved very effective in both low- and medium-temperature applications and is typically found in centralized systems such as secondary, cascade and transcritical booster. Having been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in Europe for nearly two decades, it has made significant inroads in North America in recent years.

CO2 is not a retrofit refrigerant and is intended for use only in new systems. System designers, operators and technicians need to be aware of CO2’s unique characteristics, particularly its low critical point, high operating pressures and standing pressure (power outage) considerations. It has a GWP of 1, which puts it in an elite class of environmentally friendly options.

Propane continues to experience a global resurgence as a viable, efficient and very low-GWP refrigerant choice. Its high flammability has traditionally limited system charges to 150g, which is why today it’s found primarily in stand-alone systems that operate efficiently with a low refrigerant charge — such as integrated display cases often utilized in micro-distributed applications. In Europe and abroad, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently raised its charge limit to 500g; the U.S. conservatively remains at 150g. Also, propane is not a retrofit option and is intended for new systems designed specifically for its use.

With its superior thermodynamic properties, ammonia was a logical first choice for early refrigeration systems. However, its toxicity requires careful adherence to safe application procedures to ensure operator safety and customer well-being. Traditionally, it has been used in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications. Most recently, ammonia has been introduced into commercial applications via cascade systems that utilize lower refrigerant charges and isolate the ammonia circuit away from occupied spaces.

System controls to support natural refrigerant architectures

Because of the unique properties in these emerging natural refrigerant architectures, system controls are even more essential to ensuring efficient operation, troubleshooting and servicing. Generally, the controls are loosely coupled to the refrigeration architecture, often following either a centralized or distributed approach.

However, the expanding variety of natural refrigeration systems can also pose new challenges for operators trying to maintain controls consistency or access a unified view across different systems. Here, a supervisory system — with its ability to integrate different devices into a common user interface — ensures that all stakeholders can quickly and easily evaluate each refrigeration system. 

As regulations continue to evolve and natural refrigerant systems gain more acceptance, Emerson is prepared to help equipment manufacturers, system designers and end users utilize these very low-GWP alternatives in the development of efficient, user-friendly and economically viable refrigeration systems.

 

[New E360 Webinar] Why Retrofit Your Aging Supermarket Refrigeration Architecture?

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Many supermarket operators face a common dilemma regarding their refrigeration systems: they know they need to make changes or upgrade their legacy systems, but they’re not sure what their retrofit options are — or even where to begin. In our next E360 Webinar, I’ll offer guidance on how supermarket owners/operators can embark on this critical journey.

Join me on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative webinar.

[New E360 Webinar] Why Retrofit Your Aging Supermarket Refrigeration Architecture?

There’s no question that reliable refrigeration is the backbone of any supermarket operation; it accounts for more than 50 percent of the electrical consumption for an average supermarket. That’s why keeping your refrigeration system running at optimal efficiency is essential to maximizing profits and ensuring operational success.

But if you’re like many owners/operators, you’ve been relying on the same centralized refrigeration architecture for decades. During that time, these systems have typically experienced declining performance levels and energy efficiencies — all due to progressive deviations from their original commissioned states. And while these systems are perfect candidates for an upgrade or a retrofit, even newer systems can offer opportunities for improvements, especially within the context of today’s rapidly evolving industry and market dynamics.

Compared to just 10 years ago, the drivers behind refrigeration decisions have changed dramatically, and the days of a one-system-fits-all mentality are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Environmental concerns, energy costs, shifting regulations, shrinking store formats, consumer demands and omnichannel delivery have all irrevocably reshaped the supermarket landscape.

As a result, more supermarket owners/operators are reevaluating their existing (and often aging) systems while looking for any retrofit opportunities that are available to them. Our next E360 Webinar is designed with them in mind. To help you better understand the many factors to consider when evaluating a supermarket refrigeration retrofit, I’ll be discussing the following topics:

  • Industry and market trends driving the need for refrigeration system retrofits
  • How to identify deficiencies and baseline performances in centralized architectures
  • A look at the potential architectures of the future
  • Recommended technologies for retrofits and recommissioning
  • Energy-efficiency strategies for refrigeration, HVAC and the complete building envelope

As always, we will take time after the presentation to answer any of your questions. So, be sure to register now and add this event to your August calendar.

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