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Evaluating Sustainable Supermarket Refrigeration Technology

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Progressive Grocer recently interviewed me about Emerson’s and the commercial refrigeration industry’s efforts to help promote the emergence of more sustainable, refrigeration technologies. The complete article can be found here.

Evaluating Sustainable Supermarket Refrigeration Technologyd

It’s not news that supermarkets are under continuous regulatory pressure to not only lower the energy demand of their refrigeration systems, but also to make the transition to low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion (ODP) systems. The permanent ban on R-22, long the industry standard, becomes official on January 1, 2020.

What is news is how intensely suppliers and retailers are focused on and sharing information on sustainability initiatives intended to sharply reduce the costs and impact of their refrigeration systems, both in anticipation of future regulations and to attain long-term economic and environmental sustainability.

As different manufacturers approach these issues with a variety of new technology options, the challenge becomes defining new standards for sustainable products and systems, so that the industry can converge on proven, synergistic solutions.

Taking a full system’s approach to sustainability

At Emerson, our approach to sustainability is based on a multi-faceted goal. First, sustain the environment through lower-GWP refrigerant and technology choices. Second, sustain companies financially from a total cost of ownership perspective. And third, focus on energy efficiency as a path to sustainability through forward-looking engineering and the implementation of new monitoring and control technologies, particularly Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities.

At Emerson, we take a full system approach to evaluate the sustainability of new and existing technologies in the context of multiple key selection criteria. This is part of Emerson’s “Six S’s” approach to refrigeration sustainability: simple, serviceable, secure, stable, smart and sustainable.

(To learn more about the rationale, methodology, application and impact of Emerson’s “Six S’s” philosophy, read the blog found here.)

Exploring the potential of natural refrigerants

One area of Emerson’s focus is our work to better understand and then implement emerging natural refrigerants, such as R-744 (carbon dioxide) and R-290 (propane) for different types of applications.

Recent innovations include the development of an integrated display-case architecture. This R-290 system is designed to use one or more compressors and supporting components within cases, removing exhaust heat through a shared water loop — incorporating our expertise in R-290 compressors and our experience with stand-alone condensing units. We’ve also developed a full range of CO2 system technologies, including valves and controls for both small and large applications. For cold storage applications, our modular refrigeration units utilize both CO2 and ammonia-based refrigerant configurations.

Early adopters pave the road to the future

Over the past decade, there have been many retailers committed to testing sustainable refrigeration technologies and low-GWP refrigerants in their stores. For example, the article quoted Wayne Posa of Ahold Delhaize USA, who discussed the company’s transition from R-22, stating: “Food Lion has been committed to zero-ODP and low-GWP refrigerants for several years.”

Different manufacturers are taking different approaches to studying and applying refrigerants and technologies to reach that goal, from the use of hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerants (such as R-448A and R-450) in distributed refrigeration systems to proven CO2-based system architectures.

In the area of refrigerants — let alone technologies in development for increased energy efficiency and remote monitoring and control — the refrigeration industry continues its search for a new standard. As Brian Beitler of Coolsys, a consulting and contract engineering firm explains, “Between transcritical, ejector systems, NH3 over CO2, cascade, propane, multidistributed and hybrid gas coolers, the jury is still out.”

As we move closer to the most sustainable standard for refrigerants, Emerson continues its work on total refrigeration system sustainability — in refrigerants, energy efficiency, and control — as guided by our “Six S’s” philosophy. This work is our road map to the future.

 

[New E360 Webinar] GreenChill Will Report on Supermarket Refrigeration Trends in New E360 Webinar

JohnWallace_Blog_Image John Wallace | Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

For more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership program has worked with supermarkets across the country to help them implement “greener” refrigeration strategies. In our next E360 Webinar, Tom Land, manager of the program, will present findings from GreenChill’s recent report examining 10 years of supermarket data trends. Join us on Thursday, June 20 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative update.

As we all know, the supermarket industry is experiencing a significant transition in its approach to refrigeration. Global, federal and regional environmental regulations have mandated the use of more environmentally friendly refrigeration alternatives. At the same time, many supermarket retailers are being driven by corporate sustainability objectives as well as market pressures to implement more sustainable practices in all their operations. The net result is an industry that is in varying degrees of conversion, from legacy refrigeration systems to new alternatives that do not rely on ozone-depleting refrigerants and offer lower global warming potential (GWP) and improved energy efficiency.

Since launching in 2007, the EPA’s GreenChill program has partnered with companies representing nearly one-third of U.S. supermarkets. Its goals are to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their negative impacts on the environment. To date, more than 350 individual stores have met GreenChill’s stringent certification criteria by demonstrating their commitment to environmentally friendlier commercial refrigeration systems with minimal leaks.

Because of its unique position, the GreenChill program is a microcosm for understanding larger refrigeration trends in the food retail industry — as well as providing insights into how companies are responding to increasing environmental mandates. In our next E360 Webinar, which will take place on Thursday, June 20 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, Tom Land, manager of the EPA’s GreenChill program, will report on the 10-year data trends gathered from companies participating in the program.

Attendees will learn:

  • Emissions and refrigerant leak rates of refrigeration systems
  • Types of refrigerants installed and emerging system architectures
  • Technology innovations and refrigerant transition trends in GreenChill-certified stores

Register now for this informative free webinar.

 

How to Create the Perfect Climate in Supermarkets

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently participated in an article for Winsight Grocery Business, which discussed the importance of keeping refrigeration and HVAC systems in harmony. Click here to read the full article.

How to Create the Perfect Climate in Supermarkets

Refrigeration and HVAC costs are among the biggest operational expenses a supermarket faces. The reasons? People create warmth. Refrigeration creates cold. Humidity creates wetness. And in supermarkets, HVAC systems constantly struggle to maintain the right temperature and humidity for people, equipment and products. With proper management and planning, supermarket operators can balance these factors and even optimize HVAC and refrigeration systems to work in coordination with each other.

 The battle between HVAC and refrigeration

In most buildings, the job of an HVAC system is to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature for customers and staff. But HVAC systems face unique challenges in supermarkets. Coolers, refrigerated display cases, freezers and other units (particularly those without doors), pour cool, dry air into stores. This isolated cold air stresses HVAC systems year-round, as they have to increase heating during winter — burning a lot of energy — while leaving uncomfortably cold spots, even in summer. Your refrigeration equipment alters an HVAC load in ways most systems aren’t designed to handle.

Adding doors or replacing open units can reduce both the load and energy costs. But adding doors creates a different problem: they often fog up — which forces shoppers to open the doors to see what’s inside — defeating the whole purpose of having a door. Fog and frost occur when humid weather, steamy shoppers and chilly air collide.

A foggy situation

Door fogging is a symptom of a very tricky problem: keeping in-store relative humidity (RH) at the proper percentage. If humidity is too high, doors fog over and cooling coils frost up, forcing units to overwork. If the humidity gets even higher, water can condense on floors, walls and even dry-goods packaging. But if the RH is too low, the overly dry air can shorten the shelf life of fresh produce or wilt it.

Moisture, relatively

Almost all the humidity inside a store comes from moister outside air, and it’s up to HVAC systems to lower that humidity to a slightly dry 45 percent RH — and that’s not easy.

The simplest way to do this is to super-chill incoming outside air, because as air cools, its humidity drops. But this wastes energy in two ways: it increases the refrigeration load on the HVAC and can chill the entire store. So, the air first has to be reheated before entering the store, producing yet another energy expense.

Another option to use a desiccant system in the HVAC unit to remove moisture. These systems are effective and reliable, but they require a lot of energy, especially for large spaces like supermarkets.

Harvest-free heat

The article describes a simpler, cheaper solution. The compressors on your refrigeration equipment generate a lot of heat as they compress refrigerants. This excessive heat is usually vented outside the building, wasting a source of free heat. Today, systems can recycle, treat and mix this hot air to create ideal store temperatures and RH — at much lower overall costs.

Advanced systems harvest excess hot air in various ways. Some use the hot vented air instead of the HVAC heater to reheat super-cooled, dehumidified air and reduce reheating costs. Some systems use heat exchangers to recycle the vented hot air to heat a supermarket during cold weather. “Single-path” systems super-chill a limited volume of humid outside air to dry it, then mix it with uncooled air to produce just the right temperature/RH mix. Another system uses two cooling coils, one to cool the hot air as it’s being vented outside, so it can mix with outside air to reach optimal temperature and RH. The incoming air needs little heating or cooling as it reaches the second coil, which greatly reduces the workload on the HVAC system.

Instead of adding to your HVAC system’s workload, your refrigeration equipment can actually help reduce the load, lower your costs, and create the ideal climate for shoppers, employees and facility managers.

 

Supermarkets Embrace IoT Revolution

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Grocery store chain owners and managers are embracing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to monitor the performance of their refrigeration equipment. I was recently interviewed by ACHRNews (the News) to discuss how IoT is transforming supermarket operations; this blog is a summary of that article.

Supermarkets Embrace IoT Revolution

When it comes to refrigeration equipment, supermarket operators are primarily concerned about reliable performance. With an aging generation of qualified contractors retiring and a growing shortage of trained technicians to replace them, ensuring reliable performance is becoming more difficult. It’s not surprising that as a result, grocery store owners and managers are embracing the potential of IoT to proactively monitor the performance of refrigeration equipment.

IoT is helping to fill the technician void by allowing store managers to take immediate action when refrigeration problems arise. Unplanned downtime can be extremely costly, and IoT gives operators the ability to head off issues before they become potential emergencies.

With IoT, supermarket managers are equipped with the knowledge to make quick repairs and prevent future errors, both of which deliver critical benefits that directly impact a store’s profitability and brand reputation:

  • Increased refrigeration system uptime
  • Reduction in revenue and inventory losses
  • Assurance of food safety and quality

Emerson’s ProAct™ Enterprise Software and Services is a leading example of robust IoT technology at work. Utilizing our Site Supervisor facility management controller and connected refrigeration equipment via sensors to cloud-enabled data analytics, ProAct provides alert and setpoint management while allowing grocers to take a more reliable, cost-effective, condition-based maintenance approach to refrigeration — and seamlessly transition to complete facility management of critical systems in individual stores and across the enterprise.

In this way, IoT uncovers deeper insights into how a facility is running, giving store managers the tools to take proactive measures to ensure reliability, maximize energy efficiencies, and consistently deliver optimum food quality and safety.

From an enterprise perspective, IoT allows store operators to compare trending and historic performance data at multiple sites to better optimize a grocery chain’s complete store network. Operators can also evaluate equipment upgrades and retrofits to determine which systems deliver the best performance and determine if there are any opportunities for cost savings.

Having access to preventive maintenance and predictive failure alerts is beneficial to store owners and contractors alike. Instead of performing preventive maintenance at pre-determined time intervals, IoT triggers maintenance activities based on actual system performance — giving contractors critical information to help them decide when to perform service before failures occur.

Connected refrigeration equipment also helps operators and contractors identify other indicators of asset health, including: spikes in energy use, increased compressor vibration and excessive noise — all signs that equipment could soon be at risk for failure. Not only can IoT prevent costly refrigeration downtime, it can also reduce the need for expensive emergency service calls.

For the newer generation of service contractors, IoT provides a plug-and-play capability that helps overcome their knowledge gap. With the abilities to collect and store all system-related information, IoT helps replace contractor reliance on the intelligence passed down from older contractors who are approaching retirement.

Learn how IoT and ProAct Enterprise Software and Services can help transform the efficiencies of your supermarket operations

Going Green Helps C-Stores Grow Bottom Line

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management/Enterprise Software

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Today’s c-store operators are deploying facility management control systems to meet customer demands for eco-friendly initiatives and improve energy efficiencies. This blog is based on a recent article that described how United Dairy Farmers utilizes Emerson’s Site Supervisor to achieve these goals.

Going Green Helps C-Stores Grow Bottom Line

Appealing to eco-conscious consumers is driving c-stores to implement more sustainable practices. From product offerings and water usage to lighting and energy consumption, c-stores are instituting numerous environmentally friendly initiatives, which are not only attracting customers but also reducing operating costs. United Dairy Farmers (UDF) has experienced the benefits of this strategy firsthand.

With nearly 200 locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, UDF’s commitment to energy efficiency has produced dividends to their bottom line. This initiative began nearly two decades ago when UDF’s engineering consulting firm, Springridge Partners, installed an Emerson control system in each store to monitor the performance of HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems. The control systems were set up to alert UDF store managers of any operational concerns, allowing them to take fast preventative maintenance actions and avoid full system failures — thereby saving on product loss, energy and labor costs.

By creating refrigeration setpoints and alarms, store managers receive alerts when a refrigeration system is not operating properly. For example, if case temperatures exceed setpoints, the control system sends an alert to the store manager and maintenance staff, who can then dispatch the appropriate personnel to fix the issue. If compressor temperatures rise or the amperage increases over a short period of time, the system sends alerts of potential compressor failure, giving managers the opportunity to proactively replace it before a downtime incident occurs.

The control system allows UDF and Springridge Partners to determine how much energy the chain is using and make necessary adjustments. One of the first efficiency initiatives they implemented was upgrading the stores’ lighting fixtures to all-LED lighting. Each upgrade of an older UDF store from T-12 florescent lighting to LED delivers nearly 75 percent savings on lighting costs. LED lighting upgrades also reduce associated maintenance and labor costs because lights don’t have to be changed nearly as often.

Recently, UDF upgraded to Emerson’s new Site Supervisor facility control platform in its newest store location in Sharonville, Ohio. This upgrade allows UDF to remotely view the store’s energy usage and investigate consumption variances in real time. Technicians can simply log in to see what’s happening at the store, and then talk to the store manager to decide whether they need a service call. This process also allows employees to make the best use of their time instead of responding to a false alarm.

“The new Emerson Site Supervisor is a continuation of our strategy to integrate technology into our operations. This particular technology will allow our team to be more proactive in addressing issues before they become emergencies, and it allows us to maintain the quality of our products at a very high level,” said Brad Lindner, UDF’s CEO.

What’s more, the system is expected to assist UDF in its plans to implement further reductions in energy usage across its operations.

“By allowing our team to analyze the trend data, we are able to make intelligent decisions regarding setpoints, equipment selections and food quality. We will continue to look for new ways to leverage technology in other areas of our business to increase both awareness and engagement of our staff as a whole,” Lindner said.

Learn more about Site Supervisor and its capabilities to see how it can drive energy efficiency in your operations.

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