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Posts from the ‘leak detection’ Category

Into the Green

This blog is a summary of the article Into the Green from our recent edition of E360 Outlook. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Leak detection program shrinks grocer’s carbon footprint and grows its bottom line

Refrigerant leaks are a persistent concern in the commercial refrigeration industry, and forward-thinking grocers are seeking ways to limit leaks, reduce their negative environmental impacts, and avoid the potential for significant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fines. For one prominent U.S. supermarket chain, these efforts have even become formalized in a leak detection program that serves as a key component in their corporate sustainability objectives.

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Emerson’s remote slow leak detection program is based on harnessing the power of machine learning technologies to continuously monitor system refrigerant levels and notifying stakeholders when there is a deviation in these levels compared to established models. Unlike “sniffing” leak detection systems, which can only monitor parts of the refrigeration systems typically located in closed areas, remote leak detection monitors the complete refrigeration system by analyzing key refrigeration operating indicators to provide actionable intelligence.

To capture key performance data in the retailer’s network of 100 retail stores, Emerson utilized an existing refrigeration management controller at each location. Key data points measured to evaluate refrigerant levels included:

  • Ambient temperatures
  • Discharge pressures
  • Liquid refrigerant levels
  • Times of day

Using this time-based data to analyze equipment performance, smart fault detection algorithms in Emerson’s remote leak detection system established models that depicted normal liquid refrigerant levels in various operating conditions. Data and refrigerant level models were then consolidated and processed through Emerson’s ProAct™ Services using cloud-based data analysis.

When the system detected a deviation in refrigerant level from an expected level for the given operating conditions, it generated an advisory notification reporting on the anomaly. Depending on the degree of deviation, the system issued a warning or alarm to Emerson’s ProAct Service center.  There, a team of experienced refrigeration experts remotely performed triage to prioritize the advisory.  Then, the system notified the appropriate parties in the retailer’s stores, providing additional information on the equipment, its operating condition, location and potential resolution steps. Critical situations that required immediate attention were routed directly to the chain’s contractor crews to perform on-site validation and necessary repairs.

After one year of participating in the Emerson remote leak detection program, the supermarket chain had reduced its refrigerant leaks by 25 percent, dropping its overall refrigeration leak rate to less than half of the industry average.

This 25 percent reduction in leaks equated to $560 savings annually in reclaimed refrigerant per store, totaling $56,000 annually for the 100-store network included in the pilot. Overall, the chain calculated it would achieve payback on its investment in significantly less than 24 months — the financial benchmark established for the program’s success.

Upon completion of the Emerson’s remote leak detection pilot, the supermarket chain was convinced of the program’s operational, financial and sustainability benefits. The retailer elected to expand the service beyond its network of 100 stores.

Key Benefits of Refigerant Leak Detection Program

I recently wrote an article featured in Food Safety Magazine that discussed the broad impacts of refrigerant leaks on food retailers and the benefits to having an effective leak detection program. Highlights from the article are below.

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Minimizing refrigerant leaks is important to food retailers not only from a financial perspective, but also to protect the environment and meet government regulations. Investing in a leak detection program can help retailers to minimize and even eliminate leaks, thereby improving store operations and the overall customer experience.

Impacts of Refrigerant Leaks

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill research, the average U.S. supermarket leaks an estimated 25 percent of its refrigerant supply per year. In a 100-store chain, this could result in $600,000 annually in refrigerant leaks, not to mention additional costs due to labor, loss of business and food quality issues.

Leak Detection Methods

Remote leak detection programs continuously monitor system refrigerant levels and notify stakeholders when there is a deviation from normal operating conditions. This system analyzes key indicators that help provide actionable insights. “Sniffing” detection methods can only monitor parts of the refrigeration systems that are located in closed areas.

Best Practices for Effective Leak Detection

Retailers should aim to implement a zero-tolerance policy for refrigerant leaks. When establishing a leak detection program, three key areas are critical to incorporate:

  • Detection Methods: There are different technologies to choose from, but depending upon the retailer’s requirements, automatic leak detection equipment can provide early detection of leaks and help to identify the location.
  • Reliable Notifications: When a leak occurs, it’s critical that the appropriate people are alerted. Alarm notifications can be remote, local or a combination of the two.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Recording and analyzing the data at the time the leak occurs can help to determine the best course of action.

Read the full Food Safety Magazine article online here.

And to learn more about the latest options in refrigerant leak detection, read this blog post from my colleague Mike Saunders.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

James Mitchell
Product Manager, ProAct Enterprise Software and Services
Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Latest Options in Refrigerant Leak Detection [Video]

In an E360 Conference presentation, I discussed the challenges retailers face in detecting refrigerant leaks and some of the leak detection technologies available. You can watch the video and read the highlights below. 

Note: these materials reflect insights on the proposed EPA rulings. For the latest news and final rulings, please visit the EPA’s website.

Refrigerant leaks have a broad impact in many areas. Assuming a 100-site supermarket chain with a conservative estimate of a 20 percent leak rate (about 700 lbs. per year per store), refrigerant leaks would have these results:

  • Economic: The refrigerant R-404A costs $7/lb. resulting in nearly half a million dollars in leaked refrigerant costs. This does not include customer disruptions and service technician costs.
  • Equipment: Equipment that is low on refrigerant due to leaks has to work harder, thereby reducing longevity.
  • Energy: The equipment also tends to run longer to maintain the proper temperature, resulting in increased power usage.
  • Climate: There is a direct CO2 equivalence impact of these leaks on the atmosphere, which is equal to the emissions of 24,000 cars on the road or powering 10,600 homes.

The EPA has established a set of rules and guidelines in Section 608 of the Clean Air Act regarding refrigerant leaks. Food retailers need to stay up-to-date on the latest options in leak detection to satisfy environmental regulations, and to reduce operational costs.

Key elements of the current rulings include:

  • Commercial refrigeration and industrial process refrigeration equipment leaking over 35% must be fixed
  • Technicians working on equipment need to be certified
  • Refrigerant must be properly disposed
  • Technicians need to maintain diligent records and file information

Recently, the EPA finalized updates to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Key elements of this update, which are effective as of January 1, 2019, include:

  • More stringent requirements for repairing leaks in larger appliances (>50 lbs);
    • Revised leak rate thresholds:
      • –30% for Industrial Process Refrigeration (IPR) (lowered from 35%)
      • –20% for commercial refrigeration (lowered from 35%)
      • –10% for comfort cooling (lowered from 15%)
    • New recordkeeping for the disposal of appliances containing five to 50 pounds of refrigerant;
    • New reporting requirement that kicks in when larger appliances leak 125% or more of their charge in a calendar year;
    • Restricting the sale of HFC refrigerant to technicians certified under Sections 608 or 609 of the Clean Air Act; and
    • Mandates for inspections and/or monitoring, based on certain instances

There are multiple technologies available for leak detection, including:

  • Active: A unit in the supermarket with tubes that detect refrigerant leaks in various zones throughout the store and allows for continuous monitoring.
  • Passive: Devices placed in various zones of the supermarket that use infrared technology to detect leaks and provide for continuous monitoring.
  • Indirect: Looks at the performance of a system through existing sensors and hardware to analyze the data to detect leaks.

For more information on refrigerant leak detection best practices, you can also read this previous blog post.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.



 Mike Saunders
Senior Lead Innovation Technologist
Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Refrigerant Leak Detection Technology Saves $$ and the Environment

I recently wrote an article featured in Contracting Business discussing the importance of refrigerant leak detection as an essential service for retailers and HVACR contractors.

Refrigerant leaks have long been viewed as an inevitable part of operating a retail refrigeration system.  Retailers often wrote these leaks off as the cost of doing business, but the impact of refrigerant leaks goes beyond what most may expect. The true costs of refrigerant leaks are often underestimated, and contractors who understand this impact will be more valuable partners for their clients.

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According to the EPA’s GreenChill research, the average supermarket loses about 25 percent — or about 875 pounds — of its refrigerant supply because of leaks. When you multiply this across many stores in a grocery chain, the costs can be significant — not only in terms of the cost of the refrigerant, but with associated labor costs. There is also a potential loss of business because of food disruptions and food quality issues that may arise.

Refrigerant leaks also have an environmental impact. Most commonly used refrigerants are greenhouse gases and some are ozone-depleting substances. Assuming a leak rate of 20 percent across a chain of 100 typical supermarket stores, the amount of refrigerant leaked annually is equivalent to the emissions of 24,000 cars or 10,600 homes.

The EPA has had regulations in place for a number of years as part of the Clean Air Act. Now, the EPA has proposed an update to those regulations governing most refrigerants that could impact both contractors and retail operators. Contractors who keep up with how these regulations are changing can be better retailer partners by aligning their services to meet these changes. An effective leak detection program can help retailers manage and properly repair refrigerant leaks and avoid costly EPA settlements.

The goal should be not only to establish proper leak detection response protocols, but also to institute proactive measures that minimize or eliminate leaks altogether. A zero-tolerance policy for leaks is ideal. Accurate detection methods, reliable notifications and continuous monitoring are the key elements needed for effective leak detection programs.

To learn more about refrigerant leak detection for contractors, read the full Contracting Business article here.

 For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 John Wallace
Director of Innovation
Emerson Climate Technologies Retail Solutions

Refrigerant Leak Detection: Four Areas for Retailers to Consider

Do you have a refrigerant leak detection program in place? I recently wrote an article featured in Convenience Store Decisions addressing best practices for retailers on this topic.

LeakCheck-02Effective refrigerant leak detection strategies can help retailers with savings not only at the individual store level, but across an entire enterprise. Refrigerant leaks are caused by a number of factors and can occur in any system. Facilities using commercial HVACR equipment that implement refrigerant best management practices will ultimately reduce their consumption of refrigerant, affecting their bottom line and sustainability efforts.

Here are four areas that retailers should focus on for effective leak detection programs:

  1. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for refrigerant leaks: Convenience store leaders should clearly communicate the importance of detecting and minimizing leaks throughout all levels of their organization. We also recommend developing a refrigerant management plan, including a mission statement that does not tolerate leaks.
  2. Utilize automatic detection to track leaks: Install Automatic Leak Detection (ALD) equipment, which is critical to detecting leaks, issuing notifications, and continuous monitoring and reporting. Leak detection alarms can be integrated into a facility management system, and remote monitoring can assist with management of leak notifications as well as preventive measures.
  3. Analyze data to identify trends and implement actions: Through utilization of leak detection technologies, retailers can begin to use that data to correlate the leaks with specific equipment or sites that are causing the problems, and then apply focused efforts to improve those issues. Monitoring and analyzing the system data to identify potential leaks early on will help prevent these costly minor leaks.
  4. Institute proper maintenance procedures: Performing regular preventive maintenance on refrigeration systems will ultimately save retailers more. It’s important to have proper maintenance procedures in place to minimize leak rates.

You can read the full Convenience Store Decisions article online here.

  For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

 John Wallace
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

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