Emerson is happy to announce its participation in a webinar sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program. Join Andre Patenaude, director of food retail marketing & growth Tuesday, July 30 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT for a discussion about Making the Transition to an Effective Natural Refrigerant Architecture.
For several years, the use of natural refrigerants in supermarket refrigeration has become an increasingly relevant topic across our industry. While taking a natural approach may seem like a far-away future concept to some, successful implementations are happening in various global regions and slowly becoming more commonplace in the U.S. as well.
Typically, discussions about natural refrigerants are part of a larger context, one that recognizes the ongoing transition from legacy refrigerants to sustainable alternatives. Here, natural refrigerants are among the most readily available, viable options, because they offer very low global warming potential (GWP) and no ozone depletion potential (ODP). But with relatively low adoption in U.S. supermarkets, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty among operators considering a move to natural refrigerant systems.
Industry initiatives like the GreenChill program are helping to promote broader use of natural refrigerants. Over the last decade, Emerson has been a leader in the development of natural refrigerant-ready components and systems. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a free GreenChill webinar that will feature two of Emerson’s experts on this topic, Andre Patenaude and John Wallace. Attendees will learn:
Characteristics and caveats of using CO2 (R-744), propane (R-290) and ammonia (R-717)
Market trends driving the use of natural refrigerants, such as: evolving store formats, corporate sustainability objectives and the dynamic regulatory climate
Examples of successful natural refrigerant system installations and trials taking place
Details about common natural refrigerant architectures and innovations
Backed by innovations from leading equipment manufacturers, regional governance incentives and federal sustainability programs, the transition to natural refrigerants is more viable today than ever before. We hope you’ll make plans to join Andre and John on Tuesday, July 30 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT for this informative free GreenChill webinar.
How to register and attend
To register for this informative free event, please mark your calendar now and then follow these steps on the day of the webinar:
This blog summarizes an article from ACHR NEWS, entitled “Refrigeration Retrofits Offer ‘Cool’ Savings for Supermarkets.” Click here to read the article in its entirety.
The commercial refrigeration system is the biggest energy user in supermarkets, accounting for about 40 to 60 percent of electricity consumption, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For food retailers, getting energy consumption under control is a top priority, and the refrigeration industry has stepped in with new, higher-efficiency equipment and technologies, such as advanced monitoring and control via the internet of things (IoT). However, for many retailers, virtually all their equipment is aging, and buying new equipment and systems across the board would be prohibitively expensive. But there is another path to saving a considerable amount of energy: targeted retrofits or upgrades to their existing systems.
Some energy-saving modifications can be simple and obvious, such as adding doors to cases. But at a recent Emerson E360 Forum, I explained how a systematic approach to retrofits and upgrades can identify savings throughout a store’s entire refrigeration infrastructure, particularly older, energy-demanding direct expansion (DX) centralized systems. It is a six-step process that reveals the primary causes of energy loss and, step by step, proposes energy-saving retrofits and upgrades to your system that can systematically reduce energy costs without breaking the bank.
Conduct a baseline energy audit throughout the store by installing energy-monitoring equipment. These sensors help you analyze the existing energy signature of the entire store before you make any adjustments or retrofits, and will also be invaluable for future temperature monitoring and control to ensure food safety and quality.
Recommission your existing equipment to factory specifications. This may include adjusting setpoints, superheat, suction pressure and other settings. In the process, any broken components can be repaired. This one step alone can result in energy savings of 18 percent or more.
Upgrade your HVAC system. Ambient store temperatures are major stressors on refrigeration systems. Consider upgrading rooftop units and adding demand-controlled ventilation and humidity controls. Integrating the rooftop units with the refrigeration system in the store is another option, creating a self-contained ecosystem that balances ambient and refrigeration temperatures for significant energy savings.
Upgrade lighting and other renewables. Adding modern lighting technology lowers temperatures. Installing doors onto units lowers energy losses. Electronic case controls and expansion valves (EEVs) fine-tune equipment temperatures, while upgrading to electronically commutated (EC) motors lowers electricity consumption while improving equipment efficiency.
Perform condition-based maintenance. Once you’ve migrated to these capital upgrades, it’s important to step up your regular maintenance intervals to continue your gains in efficiency and cost savings.
With these targeted retrofits and upgrades, you can systematically make your centralized DX system more effective in maintaining food quality and safety while simultaneously uncovering efficiencies that can result in significant savings.
The practice of rotating inventory in customer-facing product displays is often referred to as “flexible merchandising”. In a recent E360 article, I explained how refrigeration equipment is becoming more mobile to help food retailers implement this strategy. Read the full article here.
In today’s competitive food retail markets, flexible merchandising strategies provide opportunities to give customers the sense that there’s always something new to discover. Whether to highlight seasonal offerings, promote flash sales or maintain a vibrant store appearance, it’s a proven method of keeping customers engaged and coming back. To implement this strategy, grocers need flexibility in their display cases with the ability to move and rotate offerings as needed. The challenge comes when these products need to be refrigerated, because many traditional refrigeration systems don’t support that desired flexibility.
Refrigeration fixtures will need at least some degree of mobility to be viable in a flexible merchandising strategy. But in many cases, refrigeration architectures are often inherently incompatible with a flexible approach. Many have fixed-case layouts where fixtures and piping are literally affixed into the store’s floorplan with pre-determined insets. Traditional centralized direct expansion (DX) refrigeration systems also don’t lend themselves to refrigerated display case flexibility.
What are your refrigeration options for flexible merchandising?
With changing retailer preferences and market trends in mind, there are several viable refrigeration architectures available today. Let’s look at a few.
Distributed — this strategy is based on installing outdoor condensing units (“OCUs”) that allow them to be strategically located outside of a facility to support the addition of spot merchandising cases. Often utilized by smaller-format stores, this approach makes it easier for operators to scale their refrigeration system to the needs of the store. Modern OCUs are quiet, energy-efficient and offer installation flexibility while leaving small physical footprints outside the store. Keep in mind that OCUs are typically installed to support refrigerated fixtures in different zones, so their flexibility is limited to a particular zone.
Micro-distributed — featuring display cases that have the compressors integrated within the case, this emerging system type is becoming more common, especially in smaller-format stores. To remove the exhaust heat, cases are connected to a shared water-cooled loop that’s directed to the roof of the facility. These systems utilize a variety of low-GWP refrigerants at low charges, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and hydrocarbons such as R-290. The integrated case with water loop design enables a greater degree of merchandising flexibility, but does not quite achieve true mobility.
Self-contained — for maximum merchandising flexibility, these display cases incorporate the entire refrigeration system within the case — essentially serving as plug-and-play refrigerated units on wheels. These smaller refrigeration systems typically do not require large refrigerant charges, and are designed to use a variety of low-GWP HFC, HFO and R-290 refrigerant options. For a large-format store with a centralized DX system, incorporating self-contained display cases is a logical means of achieving refrigerated case flexibility.
As refrigeration technologies evolve to address changing industry dynamics, look for emerging system architectures that will help retailers meet the needs for flexible merchandising and smaller store footprints.
Click-and-collect fulfillment requires new or improved refrigeration strategies to ensure food quality and safety. I recently discussed these approaches for Progressive Grocer magazine. Read the full article here.
To meet consumer demand for convenience, many food retailers are entering the omnichannel arena with a click-and-collect, curbside pickup option. This new model comes with high consumer expectations, especially for maintaining maximum freshness of perishable items. As we know, even the slightest deviations in holding temperatures can quickly impact perishable freshness and negatively affect a grocer’s reputation. One bad experience can quickly erode consumer confidence, spread through word of mouth, and even inflict long-term damage on a brand.
But when executed properly, a positive click-and-collect fulfillment process can result in significant business expansion and a thriving new revenue stream. It’s important to realize that this popular fulfillment model can place unique stains on a refrigeration system, such as maintaining ideal temperatures and humidity conditions in the face of frequent cooler door openings. Ensuring success will mean implementing an optimum refrigeration strategy. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a refrigeration system for click-and-collect fulfillment.
Implement smart controls
Modern control systems are ideal for click-and-collect applications to help retailers manage food quality from the time it enters the store to when it’s delivered to a customer. Best-available solutions combine facility management and supervisory controls with user-friendly software and mobile apps to deliver always-on, remote temperature monitoring and comprehensive management of store systems and refrigeration.
These controls help operators keep temperatures low during active fulfillment periods and adjust setpoints back up during non-peak hours to save energy during low-use hours — maintaining optimal conditions for perishable freshness. Monitoring services can detect system performance issues early and notify designated store managers via mobile alerts, enabling them to make informed decisions and quickly take corrective actions.
Consider outdoor condensing unit flexibility
Click-and-collect refrigeration may require facility operators to update their current systems to support reliable cold-storage and staging areas. These systems must be robust enough to meet low- and medium-temperature requirements, but also flexible enough to address the unique demands of click-and-collect fulfillment.
Self-contained outdoor condensing units (OCUs) are ideal for adding refrigeration capacity to new cold-storage areas without affecting a facility’s existing centralized refrigeration architecture. Modern OCUs are also equipped to address difficult setpoint and humidity challenges.
OCUs have compact footprints that allow for greater installation flexibility while combining advanced components with onboard controls to help maintain precise temperatures in difficult operating conditions. Proven scroll-compression technology helps these units deliver consistent reliability across a wide range of capacities (from 0.75 to 17 HP) to meet a variety of operational requirements. Electronic expansion valves, digital compression technology and specialized load-matching algorithms enable precise capacity modulation to match compressor capacity to fluctuating refrigeration loads during peak delivery periods.
Condensing-unit controls provide demand-driven defrost cycles and humidity management to help combat repeated door openings of cold-storage rooms and refrigerated lockers. Seamless integration with facility management controllers enables remote monitoring, power management and predictive diagnostics to help operators quickly respond to, and even potentially preempt, refrigeration faults or disruptions in performance.
Click-and-collect represents a tremendous growth opportunity for food retailers as consumers continue to embrace online grocery shopping. To succeed in this competitive arena, earn customer loyalty and capture market share, retailers will likely need to delight their customers with every transaction. These refrigeration strategies can help retailers deliver a seamless click-and-collect experience by ensuring consistency, freshness and quality with every order.
A quick two-minute read may be all the time it takes to keep up with the latest developments taking place throughout the food cold chain and its shared industries. That’s why we blog frequently about trending topics, emerging technologies and proven strategies for success. As a foundation of our E360 platform, the Climate Conversations blog is designed to make sure you’re the first to know about new industry opportunities, issues and ideas. Based on this year’s traffic to our website, we’ve selected the 10 most popular blog entries we published in 2018 — information as relevant today as the day it was posted.
Top 10 2018 Climate Conversations Blogs
Why Whole Foods Made R-290 Integral to its Refrigeration Strategy
It’s only natural. If any grocery chain was going to take the lead on committing to using all-natural refrigerants, it was Whole Foods. But finding a greener solution for their self-contained units was a struggle. Whole Foods took a giant leap by converting its stores to new propane-based refrigerant
R-290 and immediately saw a jump in energy-efficiency. Learn how this approach serves as a model for other progressive chains focused on natural refrigeration.
Can Amendments to Apprentice Act Address the Technician Shortage?
This blog is a short read of an ACHR News article regarding a possible solution to an enormous industry problem: the need for 115,000 new HVAC technicians in the U.S. by 2022. Each year, America’s college graduates riddle themselves with loan debt while pursuing white collar jobs — each with an average starting salary of $32,000. Yet, apprentice technicians earn an average starting salary of $60,000, and vocational students often enjoy subsidized training with no loans. The Apprenticeship Enhancement Act of 2017 could fast-track these apprentice programs, luring a new generation of motivated technicians into our industries.
Regulatory Landscape Presents New Challenges and Complexities
At the time this blog appeared, 10 EPA rulings targeting the commercial refrigeration industry were set to take place over the following four years. Since then, the landscape has changed dramatically, but many of these rules serve as the bases of new state initiatives and industry best practices. Regardless of which direction the regulatory wind will blow next, this blog presents a sensible, systematic approach to compliance, using collaboration and innovation to soften the impact of constant change. For the latest rulemaking on refrigerants, please view this regulatory update session from our most recent E360 Forum.
C-Store Trends Through 2025
Convenience stores have come a long way from displaying racks of chips and a Slushie machine. Drawing on a conversation with the editors of Convenience Store Decisions, we looked at trends such as the increasing emphasis on creating positive customer experiences and using inventory management tools to learn what customers prefer.
Understanding Applications for Alternative Refrigerants
The move to lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants such as new alternatives to high-GWP HFCs seems inevitable. But they are not “fill-and-chill” solutions; these alternative refrigerants present new operating challenges. For example, some run hotter in both low- and medium-temperature applications, requiring compressor cooling equipment. This blog introduces a video outlining various performance issues and requirements, as well as emerging refrigerant alternatives.
Natural Refrigerant R-290 Stages a Comeback in Refrigeration
Natural refrigerants such as propane (R-290) are not new to the scene. In fact, in the early 1900s, early refrigeration systems were based on naturally occurring hydrocarbons, which combined excellent performance with one noteworthy caveat: flammability. When non-flammable CFC refrigerants arrived in the 1930s, natural refrigerants took a back seat until the environmental consequences of CFCs became apparent. In the early 2000s, researchers took a new look at R-290 as a completely GWP-free, high-performance refrigerant for low-charge commercial refrigeration equipment.
Copeland Scroll Takes Home the Gold
When you spend years researching and designing a completely new compressor line that achieves an ideal balance of energy-efficiency improvements, environmental friendliness, reliability, safety and more, it’s OK to take a bow (and then get back to work). This year, the Dealer Design Awards recognized Emerson’s Copeland Scroll™ Fractional Horsepower Compressor line with its gold distinction, meant to highlight the latest, most innovative products in the HVACR industry and honor design excellence.
A Digital Transformation in the Cold Chain
As an introduction to Emerson Group President John Rhodes’ article on the need for tighter cold chain integration, this blog discusses how the internet of things (IoT) is connecting links in the global cold chain to drive food safety and freshness. Rather than a narrow focus only on the performance of disparate operators within the food supply chain, he encourages operators to integrate their data to build a truly connected cold chain. Combining the cold chain with big data gives operators a wide-angle view of where they can improve and innovate.
New Challenges Won’t Stop the Cold Chain Evolution
Today’s unprecedented environmental, energy and food safety regulations have created challenges that have become increasingly difficult to overcome. In this blog and accompanying video, Emerson makes the case that the industry can’t afford to lose progress in the face of an uncertain, dynamic regulatory climate. When change is inevitable, create a breadth of product offerings, take the lead in stewardship efforts, and keep an eye toward innovation. That’s what we’ve done to help you find your way through this maze of change.
R-290 in U.S. Commercial Foodservice The global HFC refrigerant phase-down has brought the natural refrigerant R-290 back into the spotlight. This blog tells the story of how one company, H&K International, put its head down to focus on creating successful R-290 based products. The company worked within the current charge limit for R-290 applications to create self-contained cases, condensing units and reach-ins. Learn how making the switch to R-290 is projected to save H&K’s customers almost $800,000 in energy costs over the next three years.
We hope these blogs help keep you informed and address your most pressing challenges. Be sure to bookmark our blog page and visit it frequently to read our latest posts. You can also sign up to receive an alert whenever a blog is posted so you’re always up-to-speed.
Commercial & Residential Solutions is a global innovator of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. www.climate.emerson.com