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Posts from the ‘Food Retail’ Category

Grow Your Bottom Line With Sustainable Refrigeration Retrofits

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development Manager, Food Retail

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Across the food retail market, supermarket operators are re-evaluating their legacy refrigeration architectures. A dynamic mix of regulatory mandates, sustainability goals and the emergence of e-commerce fulfillment models are dictating changes in the status quo of refrigeration. We recently published an article in the RSES Journal that discussed refrigeration retrofit strategies that allow retailers to meet their sustainability objectives while improving their bottom lines.

When considering refrigeration retrofits, food retailers must remember that sustainability is a two-sided coin. While reducing leaks of global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants is important for lowering direct emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), many supermarket operators often overlook the potential for indirect GHG emissions caused by poor system energy efficiencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that supermarkets are the most electricity-intensive of all commercial buildings. Commercial refrigeration systems account for 40–60% of supermarket energy consumption and are by far the greatest contributor to indirect GHG emissions. Combined, direct and indirect emissions make up the true measure of sustainability, or a system’s total equivalent warming impact (TEWI).

Reduce direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants

The transition from high-GWP refrigerants and those with ozone depletion potential (ODP) is inevitable. Common legacy refrigerant options such as the HFC R-404A will be phased down while hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as R-22 are being phased out. But this does not necessarily mean operators should immediately transition to an alternative refrigerant or embark on a complete refrigeration rebuild.

Lower-GWP A1 refrigerants, such as the hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blend R-448A/R-449A, are available that allow end-users to retrofit their existing system, reduce GWP from direct emissions by up to 60%, and still maintain a familiar operational footprint similar to the one they have today.

For those operators currently using R-22, the transition to R-448A/R-449A is relatively straightforward and requires very few substantive architecture changes. The transition from R-404A to R-448A/R-449A is slightly more involved but can still be accomplished without significant architectural changes. R-448A/R-449A produces compressor discharge temperatures that run approximately 10–12% higher than R-404A. This may require additional compressor cooling mitigation such as head cooling fans, demand cooling modules, or a liquid or vapor injected scroll compressor. Consult your compressor OEM’s guidelines for specific retrofit procedures.

Improve system energy efficiencies

Any system retrofit or upgrade comes at a cost, so food retailers must ensure their investment delivers long-term viability and returns to their bottom line. This is where reducing indirect emissions by improving energy efficiencies plays such an important role. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that every dollar saved in electricity is equivalent to increasing sales by $59.

While it makes sense to undertake energy-efficiency measures in conjunction with a refrigerant transition, energy optimization best practices can — and should — be performed periodically on all systems. Before considering any retrofit options, start by performing a system assessment to determine your current performance metrics — which in many cases will deviate significantly from the system’s original commissioned baseline.

The next logical step in the energy optimization process is to enable a variable-capacity modulation strategy by either upgrading to a digitally modulated compressor or adding a variable-frequency drive (VFD) to a fixed-capacity compressor. Variable-capacity modulation provides significant system improvements, not just to energy efficiency but also to overall refrigeration system performance, reliability and lifespan. Benefits include:

  • Precise matching of capacity to changing refrigeration loads
  • Tight control over suction manifold pressures, allowing increased setpoint and energy savings
  • Improved case temperature precision
  • Reduced compressor cycling (on/off)

In digital compressor retrofit scenarios, we’ve demonstrated that replacing an underperforming, fixed-capacity compressor with a variable-capacity compressor can result in an additional 4% energy savings — even before activating digital modulation capabilities. And once digital modulation is activated, operators can expect an additional 12% energy savings.

Whether you’re trying to reduce your direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants or seeking to improve energy efficiencies and lower your indirect emissions, Emerson has compression technologies and sustainable refrigeration solutions to help you meet your specific objectives. The Copeland™ digital semi-hermetic and Copeland™ digital scroll compressors provide opportunities to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants and enable variable-capacity modulation to drive energy efficiencies.

Court of Appeals Ruling Questions the Elimination of EPA SNAP

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

On April 7, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had improperly suspended the limits on the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in its 2018 guidance. ACHR The NEWS interviewed Jennifer Butsch, Emerson’s regulatory affairs manager of air conditioning, and me to discuss the implications of this ruling and what it means to our industry. View the full article here or read a summary of its contents in this blog.

To put this latest development into context, we must go back to 2017, when the Court of Appeals ruled to vacate the EPA’s Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) Rule 20. The ruling was based on the assertion that the EPA did not have the authority to phase down HFCs under the Clean Air Act (CAA) — which was originally intended to eliminate ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The EPA had interpreted the Court’s 2017 decision by suspending the requirements of SNAP Rule 20, which then allowed current users of ODS to freely switch to HFCs.

Despite widespread business and HVACR industry objections to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Supreme Court declined to hear the HFC case in 2018. Vacating EPA SNAP 20 halted years of regulatory progress in one of the world’s leading governing bodies on HFCs — and left the U.S. without a clear path forward in terms of a unified refrigerant strategy.

The April 7 Court of Appeals ruling was in response to a lawsuit introduced by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of states led by New York. The court ruled on both procedure and substance of the EPA’s 2018 guidance, stating:

  • The decision was made without going through proper public notice-and-comment procedures.
  • The agency had improperly suspended the limits on the use of HFC refrigerants.

As a result, the Court of Appeals requested that the EPA restore its prohibition on transitioning from refrigerants with ozone depletion potential to HFCs with a higher global warming potential. In essence, the EPA did not need to completely eliminate the requirements of SNAP Rules 20 and 21.

Implications to commercial refrigeration equipment

If you are a supermarket owner or operator wondering which refrigerants you will be permitted to use moving forward, we suggest referring to the original SNAP Rules 20 and 21 if you are considering replacing refrigeration equipment that still uses an ODS refrigerant such as R-22.

As I stated in the article: “If you’ve got an existing piece of equipment that’s running on R-22, you can continue to use it and service it with reclaimed R-22. That has not been taken away. If you have an R-22 system, and you’re looking to replace it with a newer system, I would look at the SNAP 20/21 list and find someone who can provide a refrigerant that’s on that list.” It’s also important to remember that states such as California have already adopted SNAP Rules 20 and 21, so choosing new equipment that is compatible with SNAP rules is still required in those states.

As Jennifer pointed out in the article, this Court of Appeals ruling does not clear up the regulatory uncertainty that’s prevalent in our industry.

“The exact impact of the decision is unclear, and further guidance from the EPA is necessary. This ruling also underscores the need for congressional action on federally regulating HFCs to deliver the certainty the industry needs,” she said.

Newly proposed legislation, such as the American Innovations and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, would give clear authority to the EPA on what they can and cannot do with respect to the HFC refrigerant phase-down. As I stated in the article, “We need the AIM Act now more than ever.”

Rest assured that as we gain more clarity on this quickly changing regulatory climate, we will continue to keep the industry informed of the latest developments.

Upgrade Compressors to Extend Commercial Refrigeration System Lifespan

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

ACHR News recently interviewed me for an article titled “Compressor Retrofits on the Rise in Commercial Refrigeration.” It featured a variety of perspectives on the merits of compressor retrofits versus total system replacement. The article can be found here.

When facility energy costs creep up, one of the first suspects is almost always the commercial refrigeration system. It’s a reasonable assumption to make. Over time, it’s very common for energy efficiency to decline as systems drift from their original commissioned performance baselines.

But that doesn’t make a total system replacement inevitable. Many food retailers are reclaiming energy efficiencies by pairing system recommissioning with a measurement and verification (M&V) program and targeted compressor upgrades. In the process, they can reduce energy consumption, improve system performance and reliability and extend the system’s lifespan without the capital investment and business interruption that a full system replacement would require.

Back to the (factory spec) basics

Prolonged use, normal wear and tear and migration from recommended setpoints can degrade efficiency over time. Recommissioning fine-tunes the refrigeration system so that it operates as intended. The process typically involves optimizing every setpoint, cleaning condensers and replacing damaged components. Often, operators can capture significant savings just by recalibrating their system to factory specifications.

Implementing an M&V program ensures those savings are sustainable. Energy-monitoring equipment that delivers real-time insights will help operators ensure their equipment stays in tune. When variances occur, contractors can quickly identify the root cause and address the issue. But just as important, they can use the data generated by the M&V program to make informed decisions on future improvements.

Greater efficiency through variable-capacity modulation

The next step is to enhance energy efficiencies in low- and medium-temperature racks by upgrading to a digital compressor with variable-capacity modulation or by adding a variable frequency drive (VFD). Often, the best candidates for replacement are fixed-capacity compressors that are underperforming or the smallest displacement compressors in each rack.

By adding a variable-capacity digital compressor or VFD to the mix, operators can:

  • Accurately match capacity to changing refrigeration loads
  • Improve case temperature precision
  • Reduce compressor cycling
  • Maintain tighter control over suction manifold pressures

One often overlooked solution is the option to add a VFD to legacy Copeland™ Discus and Copeland™ Scroll fixed-capacity compressors. Perhaps a more common solution is replacing one or even two underperforming fixed-capacity compressors with a digital compressor such as a Copeland Discus Digital or Copeland Scroll Digital compressor — both of which enable variable-capacity modulation to deliver significant energy savings.

When a leading supermarket chain tested the strategy on a 20-year-old, 45,000 square foot grocery store in Ontario, it found that:

  • Recommissioning reduced energy costs by 18%
  • Replacing two weaker units with Copeland Discus compressors reduced energy costs by an additional 16% and qualified the retailer for a local energy incentive program

The entire effort delivered an annual energy savings of more than $40,000.

Proven strategies for every situation

As other contributors to the article note, compressor upgrades (or retrofits) may not always be the right solution for every system. Depending on the age and condition of the equipment, a total system replacement may make more financial sense. This strategy would ensure all system controls and components are integrated and optimized for lower-GWP refrigerants.

Ultimately, choosing between a compressor retrofit or full system replacement should be a data-driven decision that operators make in consultation with their contractors. As a leader in commercial refrigeration and other cold chain technologies, Emerson can help operators maximize their return on that decision. We offer a full suite of components that boost energy efficiency and provide internet of things (IoT) capabilities for retrofits and new equipment alike. Our application engineers are available to answer questions related to refrigeration system performance, retrofit opportunities and strategies for maximizing energy efficiency.

How Restaurants and C-stores Can Deliver Safe, High-quality Food Offerings

MattToone_2 Matt Toone | Vice President, Sales & Solutions – Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Whether you’re a convenience store (c-store) operator, quick-service restaurant (QSR), or a fast casual or fine dining establishment, ensuring food quality and safety is imperative to your success. In this blog, the first of a three-part series based on a recent E360 article, Minimizing Food Safety Risks From Farm to Fork, I’ll explore the efforts involved in maintaining safety throughout the food supply chain.

How Restaurants and C-stores Can Deliver Safe, High-quality Food Offerings

Dining out has become an everyday part of American life. It’s estimated that more than one-third of us eat at a fast-food restaurant every day, and more than 60 percent have dinner at a restaurant at least once a week. As consumers are becoming increasingly discriminating about what they eat, restaurants are under more pressure to deliver fresh, healthy foods and in greater varieties. But, above all else, restaurant operators must ensure food is safe to eat.

Food’s journey to a customer’s plate (or a packaged take-out container) is fraught with hazards. Ensuring food safety is a cumulative effort shared by every stakeholder along the journey — from production and processing to transportation, cold storage and ultimately, the foodservice provider. Temperature deviations, unsafe handling practices and improper food preparation processes can all increase the potential for foodborne illness outbreaks.

Thankfully, improvements in refrigeration equipment and internet of things (IoT) technologies are helping to provide more reliable and consistent temperature and quality control within the cold chain. Throughout food’s journey, operators at each point are now able to monitor, control and track a variety of conditions necessary for preserving food quality, including: temperature, humidity, the presence of ripening agents, lighting and much more.

Meeting customer expectations

Modern restaurants and c-stores are being held to increasingly higher food safety and quality standards. Consumers and regulators alike are demanding greater transparency in the food supply chain, which includes improved traceability of food’s journey from farm to fork. To keep customers coming back, operators must not only consistently deliver safe, high-quality food but also openly disclose their suppliers.

Protecting against foodborne illness outbreaks helps to not only ensure your customers’ well-being, it also guards against potentially devastating impacts to your brand’s reputation and bottom-line profitability. As one of the final links in the food supply chain, restaurant operators must ensure that food is safe on receipt and adhere to safe food storage, handling and preparation processes in their kitchens.

This starts with understanding everything that contributes to food quality and safety throughout the cold chain. With today’s connected infrastructures and IoT-based monitoring and tracking capabilities, operators now have the potential for visibility into each step of the journey — even the possibility for comprehensive cold chain traceability. Then, once food has been received into inventory, this process continues by applying all the modern tools available to ensure food quality, safety and consistency.

Food supply chain safety is cumulative

It’s estimated that nearly half of the fresh fruit and one-third of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States are sourced from foreign countries — transported by land, sea and air in a process that can span the point of harvest, processing, cold storage and distribution. Overseas shipments can last anywhere from two to four weeks; for domestic transportation, it can take three to four days to ship strawberries from California to the East Coast.

In total, these perishables can potentially undergo as many as 20 to 30 steps and multiple changes of ownership throughout the food supply chain process. The more these items change hands, or are staged, loaded and unloaded, the greater the chances for contamination and temperature excursions along the way.

In my next blog, I’ll take a closer look at the environmental factors and conditions putting food at risk as well as the food safety regulatory landscape.

 

Evaluate System Lifecycle Performance When Making the Decision to “Go Green”

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently contributed to an ACR News publication with an article which addressed the topic of “green refrigeration.” The article, entitled A Greener Landscape for Commercial Refrigeration, explored why and how operators are making the transition to more eco-friendly refrigeration systems. View the full article here or read a summary below.

As global and national refrigeration industry dynamics continue to rapidly evolve, more business owners and supermarket operators are seeking new refrigerant and equipment alternatives. Ever-changing refrigerant and energy regulations, combined with an increased awareness of the environmental impacts of legacy refrigeration systems, are prompting more stakeholders to explore the green and growing edges of the refrigeration landscape.

But because commercial refrigeration systems can potentially be in service for decades, end users must carefully consider not only today’s regulatory requirements, but also tomorrow’s potential constraints. This means making the most informed equipment decisions possible with the goal of maximizing the investment throughout the system’s lifecycle. Doing so requires a fundamental understanding of the environmental impacts and financial considerations of a commercial refrigeration system.

Total equivalent warming impacts
While today’s regulations are primarily focused on reducing the global warming potential (GWP) from direct emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, it’s also important to remember that the total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) also accounts for indirect emissions — or the amount of greenhouse gases generated from the refrigeration system’s energy consumption. It’s estimated that these indirect emissions represent the majority of total climate impacts.

Only by evaluating both energy consumption and refrigerant GWP — including leaks and disposal — over the lifetime of a system can we estimate a system’s full lifecycle climate performance (LCCP).

Environmental and financial sustainability
Operators who are considering going green must also factor in the financial viability and sustainability of new or upgraded refrigeration systems. This means determining not only first costs and installation expenses, but also estimating the long-term maintenance and service requirements.

For manufacturers of these new eco-friendly equipment, components and systems, their task is twofold: 1) utilize lower-GWP refrigerants to meet regulatory requirements, while 2) minimizing ownership and operating costs.

Building a greener future
Like much of the commercial refrigeration industry, Emerson believes that the adoption of environmentally responsible, financially viable refrigeration systems will become more commonplace over the next decade. After all, there is a historic precedent for refrigerant phase-downs, including the ban on ozone-depleting substances which began in the 1990s and is now coming to fruition. Under the authority of the Montreal Protocol and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act, ozone- depleting substances like R-22 will no longer be manufactured or imported into the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Today, the global reduction of fluorinated gases (aka F-gases) is being driven by the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which has now been ratified by more than 80 countries. As federal regulations continue to take shape and regional mandates become more prevalent throughout the U.S., it seems inevitable that the industry will eventually make the transition to more eco-friendly refrigeration systems.

Emerson has helped support this transition for many years by working with early adopters of low-GWP refrigerants and supporting technologies. Those operators who are taking proactive steps now will have a head start on this transition and be able to provide insights from which the rest of the industry can learn.

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