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Mining Apprenticeship Opportunities to Bridge the Refrigeration Gap

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Apprenticeship Opportunities.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Through our E360 Outlook magazines and E360 Forums, my colleague Bob Labbett and I have talked at length about the growing technician shortage facing our industry; it’s something we refer to as the refrigeration gap. After facilitating many conversations with stakeholders to address this challenge, we have formed the basis of a solution that focuses on four key areas: awareness, recruitment, training and retention. But we are always looking for creative ways to achieve these objectives.

A recent announcement by the Trump administration about doubling the budget of the federal apprenticeship program piqued our curiosity. Not only were we largely unaware of the program, we were intrigued about its potential for addressing our industry’s technician shortage. To learn more, we put two summer interns at The Helix to work on researching feasibility of the program. Here’s what we dug up.

Relatively low HVACR participation

After poring through the Department of Labor’s (DOL) apprenticeship section of their website, one of the first things we discovered was that HVACR participation in the program was quite low. While there were more than 200,000 active participants in Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs in 2016, HVACR only accounted for 3,135 of these. Electricians topped this list with 41,489 active apprentices. We quickly realized that our industry has a runway of opportunity that is largely untapped.

Federally funded, state operated

Another key fact we uncovered about the program is that “the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) works in conjunction with independent State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) to administer the program nationally.” What this means is that RA programs are enacted at the state level after meeting the DOL’s apprenticeship standards. What’s more, an individual employer, group of employers, or an industry association can also sponsor an RA program, sometimes in partnership with a labor organization.

Technical schools and colleges play a vital role

The OA is also focused on helping educators build college-to-career pipelines in a variety of occupations through the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC). RACC is a national network of post-secondary institutions, employers, unions and associations working to create opportunities for apprentice graduates who may want to further enhance their skills by completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Even high school-level vocational institutions and career centers can get involved in pre-apprenticeship programs to help students explore career opportunities and become an apprentice while they’re still in high school.

The Internet of Refrigeration

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | V.P. of Marketing , Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I contributed to an article published in Condenser magazine. The focus of the piece was to analyze how networked equipment is aiming to improve safety and operations.

 The Internet of Things – an increasingly massive network of electronically connected systems, devices and people that enables cross-platform data sharing – is creating a large, connected ecosystem across many industries, including refrigeration.

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There is continuing growth in remote monitoring with all types of refrigeration equipment, driven largely by the need to safeguard consumers and food, manage energy use, and provide a consistent, effective maintenance program.

Retail groceries have long recognized the importance of connected refrigeration systems, and have high adoption rates of connected devices. Previously, the primary focus was operating alerts and alarms to indicate problems. Now with more points of connection, more sophisticated data from embedded sensor and controllers and advanced analytics capabilities in the ‘big data’ world, the focus has changed to creating more insights that drive specific decisions and actions.

There is much more interest and use of information to prompt action in advance, based on opportunities and trends identified in data patterns rather than reacting to failure modes and alerts. Applied at the system, site and enterprise levels, those types of insight-driven actions have huge implications for cost-saving, labor productivity, maintenance improvement, food safety and more.

Through remote monitoring, equipment owners and their service providers can often detect problems, as they emerge rather than after-the-fact in an emergency breakdown. Major food safety risk and food loss is often avoided, and system operation can be maintained through proactive efforts. The adoption of remote monitoring for refrigerant leak detection is also becoming more common. Advanced data can often identify small leaks up to 30 days prior to discovery by leak detectors.

Today’s smarter systems are making it easier, faster, and highly reliable to implement equipment monitoring and performance processes.

Read the full article here.

 

[E360 Webinar Recap] Achieving Capacity Modulation With Digital Retrofits

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

VIEW our latest E360 Webinar on demand, “Utilizing Digital Retrofits to Achieve Capacity Modulation.”

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The integration of a digital compressor into an existing rack to achieve capacity (or load) modulation is a technique often referred to as a digital retrofit. In our most recent E360 Webinar, “Utilizing Digital Retrofits to Achieve Capacity Modulation,” Chris Raffel explained the principles behind digital technology and its potential benefits.

In theory, digital capacity modulation can improve any system with varying load requirements, including: supermarket and foodservice refrigeration; commercial AC; walk-in coolers/freezers; refrigerated warehousing; and process chillers and air dryers. A recent emphasis on deploying systems with lower global warming potential refrigerants is prompting many supermarket retailers to make changes to their existing refrigeration systems — thus presenting digital retrofit opportunities.

Why go digital?

Digital compression technology addresses many of the challenges of traditional refrigeration systems by enabling the benefits of capacity modulation:

  • Reduced compressor cycling
  • Increased contactor life/system reliability
  • Enhanced system load match capability
  • Tighter suction setpoint range
  • Improved energy efficiency

The relationship between suction pressure and energy efficiency is particularly noteworthy. We estimate compressor power consumption is reduced by approximately 2 percent for every 1 PSI increase in suction pressure. When the suction pressure is held tighter, as is the case in digital retrofit systems, the suction setpoint may also be raised. It’s here where significant energy savings from digital capacity modulation can be achieved.

Principles of digital modulation

Both Copeland Scroll Digital™ and Discus Digital™ compressors work according to a similar principle: varying the percentage of time that the compressor is loaded and unloaded to achieve the desired load requirements. For example, if the required capacity is 50% during a 20-second period, the compressor may be fully loaded for 10 seconds and completely unloaded for the remaining 10 seconds.

Regardless of the load/unload state, the speed of the digital compressor speed remains constant. During the unloaded stage of the compression cycle, the flow of suction gas is completely closed off to the cylinders; no gas is compressed and power consumption is significantly lower. A solenoid valve controls the gas flow; when it is deenergized, the suction gas resumes flow into the cylinders and normal compression resumes.

When to make the move to digital

System redesign, refrigerant changes or a compressor replacement are all viable opportunities to install a digital compressor to act as the lead compressor in a rack. In doing so, retailers will not only significantly improve refrigeration system performance, but also potentially prolong the life of the other compressors on the rack. I demonstrated this concept in the webinar with data that showed a clear reduction in compressor cycling — in one case going from 900 starts per day to 12 starts in four days.

To learn more about digital retrofits with capacity modulation, view this webinar in its entirety

Retail and Foodservice 2025: Omni-Channel Proficiency

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Emerson Retail Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Welcome back for the final installment of our series highlighting the top five trends driving change within the grocery retail and chained foodservice markets in the coming years. The final trend we are taking a closer look at is Omni-Channel Proficiency.

Emerson and global research firm Euromonitor International worked together to identify the megatrends impacting retail and restaurant operations and facilities management over the next eight years.

If you haven’t already, you may want to first read our previous posts where we focused on the first four trends: Digital Shoppers, Focus on Convenience,  New Retail Formats, and Experiential Retail.

So what do we mean by Omni-Channel Proficiency? The common misconception is that “omni-channel” refers solely to online consumer engagement and shopping. It is more than that. It has to do with looking at all the different ways retailers need to be available for consumer engagement. A growing number of consumers are no longer coming to the retailer. To capture sales, retailers need to meet consumers halfway and go where they are; they need to be omnipresent.

The omni-channel concept pulls together many of the topics previously discussed within the other trends, including digital devices, customer experience, convenience, and Millennials. Omni-channel consumers have more frequent shopping experiences and spend more money than traditional shoppers. According to recent research, there has been a 23 percent increase in shopping trips among U.S. omni-channel shoppers and a 13 percent increase in spend among the group.

Omni-Channel Proficiency means facilitating sales anytime, anywhere in a seamless way for consumers. These consumers are “always shopping.” They are checking prices or browsing on their smartwatches or phones at all hours of the day and night. They want consistent experiences online and in brick-and-mortar locations.

One way retailers are trying to create this consistent experience is through customer loyalty programs. Unfortunately, many programs are falling short of consumer expectations. The most common mistake that retailers make with their loyalty program is that they treat it as a completely different entity within their brand. For instance, only allowing use of loyalty card online or in brick-and-mortar sites, or putting restrictions on use through the brand’s mobile app.

From a consumer perspective, that can be really frustrating. They want one seamless experience, regardless where or when they are interacting with the brand. And surprising to some, they do not necessarily want everything to be only digital or online. This is supported by the fact that we are seeing traditional online players incorporating brick-and-mortar into their brand experience. For instance, Amazon recently opened a bookstore location and will soon be introducing its curbside drive-up grocery store.

So, what can retail and foodservice organizations do in terms of facility management and operations to help support Omni-Channel Proficiency?

  • Facilities – Ensure seamless interaction between technology, operations, and store design to increase customer engagement and eliminate inefficiencies and lower costs.
  • Supply Chain – Increase focus on tracking inventory and warehouse strategy to expand reach at low costs and fulfill multiple channels from one site.
  • e-Commerce – Implement an infrastructure that supports online interaction and personalized, real-time engagement to slow industry commoditization and build equity against competitors.
  • Human Resources – Offer consistent customer service that allows troubleshooting and product returns from anywhere to increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.
  • Customer Experience – Create consistent experience across formats that enables the ability to shop anywhere, anytime to increase brand loyalty and sales.

As the trends covered in this series illustrate, the grocery retail and chained foodservice environments are quickly evolving. It’s important that operators understand the impact these changes will have on their operations and plan accordingly to ensure strong sales and customer loyalty.

National Food Safety Month: Helping You Keep Food Fresh From Farm to Fork

September is National Food Safety month so we thought this would be the perfect time to share with you some of our favorite industry articles and tips that will help you keep food fresh “from farm to fork”. Retailers are investing more in fresh foods to keep up with consumer demand, and keeping food safe is imperative.

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This podcast from the Food Management Institute discusses the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Sanitary Transportation rule and the key changes that it requires. You’ll learn how this rule impacts recordkeeping and documentation requirements for the transportation of food. This podcast helps retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers identify what procedures they’ll need to have in place in order to comply.

The Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) did a study of highly publicized food scares in the global food chain that have occurred in recent years, such as the recent E.Coli and norovirus outbreaks at Chipotle. They examined these food safety events to identify the behavioral, regulatory and technological factors that have caused the food industry to become increasingly proactive in keeping food safe. This report covers the role of the FSMA in improving food safety, the globalization of the food supply chain and some of the technological innovations that have improved food safety.

Need detailed plans on how to set up a food safety program? This checklist from DEKRA Insight, a global safety consulting organization, can help. It covers building a team, developing policies, training, tracking and how to handle recalls and other issues that arise.

FoodLogicQ did a poll of 2,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their opinion on food traceability and expectations for companies on recalls and foodborne illness. Their report details the cost of food recalls not only in terms of dollars but in brand damage and lost sales. The survey shows that a majority of respondents want food companies to fully address recalls or illness within 1-2 days. Transparency in labeling, sourcing and having a plan to deal with problems will go a long way to growing and retaining your customers.

And no compilation of articles would be complete without a few of our own. Last year we did a series of articles on food safety for Food Safety month. In these articles, you’ll learn about the impact of FSMA, how to help prevent food safety issues with remote monitoring services, and best practices for transporting foods. To learn more about remote monitoring, read the article Emerson’s Ron Chapek wrote for Food Safety magazine. You’ll learn what options are available, and how remote monitoring minimized food loss expense for a large food retailer.

 

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