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Posts from the ‘Refrigeration’ Category

Podcast Recap: Talking the State of Commercial Refrigeration With ACHR News

This blog summarizes a discussion I had as a guest on The NEWSMakers podcast, which is produced by ACHR News. Click here to listen to the podcast in its entirety.

benpicker Ben Picker | Product Manager – Copeland Condensing Units

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently sat down with the staff of The NEWS to record an episode of The NEWSMakers podcast, where we discussed the state of commercial refrigeration and its role within the larger food supply chain. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from regulations and changing consumer preferences to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cold chain temperature monitoring. What follows is a summary of that conversation.

Beyond Iot to digital transformation in the modern supermarket

Regulatory landscape

The impacts of federal and state regulations continue to be felt. While recent rulings have vacated some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) previous refrigerant regulations, California is not only maintaining those guidelines, it’s introducing additional mandates for more stringent requirements when dealing with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant use, charge limits and leak detection. Department of Energy (DOE) energy-efficiency regulations remain in effect and are driven by equipment class and size; it’s important for manufacturers and end users to understand how these energy targets impact their specific applications. In addition, there are standards to ensure the safe operation of equipment and preserve food safety.

Changing consumer demands

The market has changed dramatically in recent years, primarily driven by shifting consumer preferences. Some examples include: convenience stores evolving to provide higher-quality, fresh food items; fast-casual restaurants offering home delivery; and grocery stores adding Click and Collect, online shopping options. These business models are placing new pressures on retailers to consistently provide the highest-quality products. If a consumer has a bad experience, then word of mouth quickly spreads, which may damage the offending store’s reputation.

IoT impacts

The prevalence of electronic controls and equipment connectivity via IoT is influencing the entire HVACR industry. In commercial refrigeration, controls are being developed and utilized to meet regulations and ensure product safety and quality. Cold chain technology is now available to monitor and track the condition of food in real time — from the farm to the storage facility to its retail destination — to determine if correct temperatures are maintained. This connectivity helps businesses make real-time decisions. If they see temperatures drifting out of preferred ranges, they can divert shipments to the nearest retail location or recall them altogether.

The abilities to monitor equipment and see its performance at any given time are also impacting maintenance procedures. With modern controls, it’s now possible to monitor system health and detect trends well in advance of a potential failure. This allows end users to better schedule their maintenance activities and prevent equipment failures — especially ahead of peak sales opportunities, such as holiday weekends or new product introductions or menu items.

Security concerns

Anytime you’re creating an unsecured internet pathway to sensitive information, there’s always a concern. But there are options to avoid these challenges. One simple solution is built-in cellular modems on equipment, allowing each piece to act independently from the system containing information. It’s also important to understand that different applications may require different solutions, depending on which services are available in a particular location. We recommend consulting with a network security professional within your region to develop a program that best suits your individual needs.

Emerson’s response to cold chain challenges

Emerson is looking at the cold chain from a holistic perspective — from the time food leaves the farm to when it hits the fork — and we’ve reorganized our entire organization to support the various affected stakeholders. Through strategic acquisitions and the continued development of new technologies, we can monitor and preserve food quality along every step of food’s journey. We’re making IoT-enabled, smart equipment to allow customers to diagnose the health of equipment and see its historic and real-time performances. And, we have comprehensive services that provide enterprise-wide monitoring of mission-critical systems across a network of stores, prioritizing alarms and fixing potential issues before they become problems.

 

A Shift in Industrial Refrigeration

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I discussed the large industrial refrigeration market and the use of natural refrigerants in the Accelerate America article entitled, “Exploiting CO2on pg. 16.

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For decades, ammonia (aka NH3 or R717) has been the backbone of many cold storage applications in the large industrial refrigeration market. More recently, the increasing popularity of CO2 (R744) in commercial applications has led refrigeration manufacturers to look for ways to incorporate this natural refrigerant in industrial systems. With the technology to combine the benefits of both refrigerants and facilitate this transition coming to fruition, a shift in the industry may be coming.

NH3 has excellent performance efficiency and ultra-low environmental impact, making it a near-perfect refrigerant. However, its toxicity causes hesitancy in use. Tightening regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sought to improve the safety of NH3 systems, requiring operators to provide documentation for systems charged with at least 10,000 pounds of ammonia.

Enter NH3/CO2 cascade technology, a system architecture that has been successfully deployed in many commercial applications with HFCs on the high side, to leverage ammonia’s efficiency and limit the potential for toxic exposure to workers and product spoilage.

Transitioning to the large industrial market does cause several concerns that need to be addressed, such as:

  • Finding a way to deliver high-tonnage refrigeration capacity while keeping ammonia charges low
  • Ease documentation requirements
  • Lowering the potential for exposure
  • Complexities related to installation, commissioning, operation and servicing requirements
  • Potential heat exchanger leaks of CO2 and NH3 that can mix and create ammonium carbamate, resulting in system failure
  • Maintaining uptime during the transition from a legacy system to a new cascade system

Self-contained systems

Meeting high-tonnage, cold storage requirements while addressing the known operational challenges of ammonia and CO2 meant that manufacturers have had to expand upon the existing cascade architecture. Developing a self-contained system that integrates an entire NH3/CO2 cascade system into a modular refrigeration unit seemed to be the best solution.

Designed to be located on the rooftop or next to a building of a cold storage facility, this modular refrigeration unit combines CO2 and NH3 compression technologies and electronic controls in a cascade system that contains two independent CO2 and NH3 circuits with separate condensers and evaporators (including a shared cascade heat exchanger).

The self-contained, modular unit essentially serves as the system’s mechanical room, enabling installation and efficiencies typically not found in traditional systems. Existing facilities can even install this system while their legacy system is still running, positioning the unit at the desired rooftop location and connecting the ductwork in as little as a few days. Then, as soon as the facility manager is ready, he/she can simply shut down the old system and let the new system assume refrigeration duties.

The simplicity of this drop-in, plug-and-play design also lowers maintenance requirements while improving serviceability throughout the lifecycle.

Read the full article, Exploiting CO2 on pg. 16, to find out other ways the industry is working to address these concerns and how natural refrigerants are driving innovation.

 

The Human Equation of Facility Management

Michael Newman Michael Newman | Director, Human Centered Design

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

With growing industry interests in facility management and how building automation can benefit facility managers, we decided to shed a spotlight on the topic at our 2017 E360 Annual Conference. To hear more about today’s trends and how you can apply them to your facility, click here.

The human Equation of Facility Management

In the past, facility management was often a service that companies would handle in-house. As many companies have ever-expanding footprints, they’ve found it more challenging to manage the facility aspects — which has resulted in more outsourced facility management. Studies show that approximately 14 percent growth is expected in residential and commercial building population, meaning more buildings need to be managed. And let’s not forget that as outsourced facility management is in the upswing, there is a requirement to manage more contracts on a much broader scale with ever-decreasing resources, compounding the situation. The market is growing increasingly complex, and facility managers are facing an array of new issues. These include:

  • Generating more cost savings
  • Managing environmental concerns
  • A shrinking amount of necessary resources
  • The growing technician shortage

Building automation can help alleviate these problems. With the goal of efficient response, operators need to build the abilities to recognize problems, sensory processing, perception, decision-making and response capabilities into systems. If buildings can gather all of this information and feed it back to facility managers, these managers will have a more holistic understanding of the performance across their entire operation.

However, this data and information are useless if they can’t be interpreted or used correctly. As facility management becomes more complex, it’s important to focus designs and algorithms that are user-friendly, easy to understand and logical. One way to keep facility managers from experiencing information overload is to work toward automating management systems, allowing the technology to fully interpret the situation before setting off an alarm or alerting an operator.

The goal of building and system automation is not to replace humans. As technology evolves, so do our jobs. Automation simply allows operators to interact with new systems and gain access to extensive data. Automation allows for predictive and preventative maintenance, enabling the system to analyze data and predict exactly when and where it will need maintenance.

This kind of software allows us to more efficiently concentrate our efforts on problems and helps eliminate complexity, surfacing what’s important when it matters. For a more comprehensive look into facility management and building automation and what trends could be on the horizon, be sure to watch the full presentation here

A Look Ahead for the Refrigeration Industry – ACHR News

DonNewlon_V2 Don Newlon | V.P./G.M., Food Retail, Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from ACHR News, titled “Manufacturers Optimistic About the Future of the Refrigeration Market.” Read the full article here.

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The U.S. economy is looking more robust, with many economists predicting the gross domestic product (GDP) will grow between 2.5 and 3 percent this year. That is slightly higher than last year’s GDP, which the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported as increasing 2.3 percent, but much higher than the increase of only 1.5 percent in 2016. Other economic indicators are looking positive as well, including modest inflation, higher wages, increased consumer spending and low unemployment. All these factors are leading manufacturers to believe 2018 will be a good year for the refrigeration market.

Cold rooms, including the walk-in cooler and freezer applications found in many venues such as convenience stores and supermarkets, also remain an important area of focus for the industry because of the ongoing demand for tighter temperature control and monitoring to ensure food safety and quality.

Emerson sees foodservice showing solid growth, and we expect food retail, transportation and industrial growth will be even stronger. For several years now, we’ve placed significant development emphasis on helping our customers be ready for refrigerant and energy advancements, and those products are seeing growth as well. As the refrigeration industry continues to evolve, it is our responsibility to continue developing products that allow our customers to stay on top of industry trends.

While manufacturers are optimistic about growth this year, there are lingering concerns over the current and future state of regulations and refrigerants. Adding to the confusion is the recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny a petition to rehear its prior case that ruled the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to regulate HFC refrigerants.

The recent SNAP ruling is a concern, as some end users and manufacturers are faced with questions about how to proceed. Refrigeration is dealing with extraordinary dynamics right now, bringing both a challenge and an opportunity. We see our role as engineering simple and sustainable solutions to meet these challenges. We are working with our customers to help determine their approaches moving forward.

The transition to natural and alternative refrigerants will likely continue. Emphasis should also be placed on properly training techs, as new refrigeration equipment cannot be installed and/or maintained correctly without them. As manufacturers shift to new refrigerants, the industry will need to provide additional training to ensure contractors are able to install and service the next generation of equipment being offered.

Using the Sun to Keep Food Cool

JoeSummers Joe Summers | Product Planner, Transport & Commercial Controls

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is based on an article published in Refrigerated Transporter titled “Rayfrigeration’ TRU generates impressive results in real-world testing.” Read the full article here.

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Effective refrigerated transportation is essential to the cold chain. If we can’t keep perishable food at a steady temperature from point A to point B, the results are spoiled food, loss of revenue and empty shelves. The emissions produced by the high-polluting, small diesel engines on trucks trying to keep food cool have always seemed to be a necessary evil. However, those days may be numbered.

The new “Rayfrigeration” transport refrigeration unit (TRU) from eNow is the first zero-emissions, commercial-use TRU capable of making deliveries in urban environments. Over five months of testing, it boasted massive emissions reductions.

Utilizing two forms of energy storage, eutectic medium (cold plates) and a high-capacity auxiliary battery system, the Rayfrigeration TRU gets charged when the vehicle is plugged in overnight and then, while the truck is on a delivery route, uses power from eNow’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are mounted on the truck’s roof.

Not only is this unit projected to reduce operations and maintenance costs by up to 90 percent, it also reduced the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a delivery truck over a four-day period from 2,525 to 159 pounds; nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions were reduced from 7,162 grams to 1.

The ability to cut CO2 emissions by 86 percent, lower NOX emissions by 98 percent and slash particle matter emissions by 97 percent is a groundbreaking step in reducing the cold chain’s ecological footprint. As businesses and organizations continue to develop their own sustainability initiatives and the EPA proceeds with stricter regulations, innovative technology like this will be at the forefront of industry priorities.

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