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[Webinar Recap] Preparing for the Future of Refrigeration

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Commercial refrigeration architectures are changing. Environmental regulations and corporate sustainability objectives are driving the need for next-generation refrigeration technologies. Today, most commercial refrigeration end users are still operating legacy, centralized direct-expansion (DX) rack systems — which contain refrigerants that either have high global warming potential (GWP) or ozone depletion potential (ODP). In our most recent E360 Webinar, Diego Marafon, refrigeration scroll product manager at Emerson, and I discussed new refrigeration architectures that utilize eco-friendly refrigerants.

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In many countries, regions and U.S. states, the transition from high-GWP refrigerants is underway. While legacy refrigerant options such as hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) R-404A are being phased down, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as R-22 are being phased out. To meet sustainability targets, future refrigeration options will utilize a variety of emerging lower-GWP refrigerants, including A1s, A2Ls and natural options such as CO2 and propane.

End users must evaluate a wide range of operational, maintenance and economic criteria when selecting an alternative refrigerant or future refrigeration architecture. Based on Emerson-sponsored research on commercial refrigeration end users, we’ve classified these criteria into six categories called the Six S’s: simple to operate and maintain; environmentally and economically sustainable; stable, reliable performance; secure in terms of both technology and safety perspectives; serviceable without requiring specialized skills or training; and equipped with smart technologies for internet of things (IoT) communication. The levels of importance that each end user places on these factors will determine their selection criteria and the types of systems that meet their business objectives.

Emerging architectures and technologies

Aside from CO2 systems, which have been in use for more than a decade, many of the emerging technologies take a decentralized or distributed approach to system architectures. Overall, this strategy moves the refrigeration equipment closer to the refrigerated cases, requires much less refrigerant charge (and piping), and offers a higher degree of flexibility over centralized DX systems. Here is a brief description of some of the decentralized or distributed architectures we reviewed in the webinar:

Low-charge small scroll racks — These systems have been in place for more than 20 years due to their equipment placement flexibility. Multiple-rack units can be placed in proximity to refrigerated loads, allowing suction pressures to be optimized and drive energy efficiencies. Refrigerant charges are smaller, so leaks can be contained to each rack’s individual circuit. They are capable of using multiple refrigerants with varying lower-GWP ratings.

Outdoor condensing units (OCUs) — This well-known approach has been proven for decades and is evolving to meet modern refrigeration needs. OCUs have traditionally been used for smaller refrigeration loads — one unit per load — and many retailers use multiple OCUs to cover individual loads throughout a store. Lower-GWP A1 refrigerants such as R-448/9A can be used for low-temperature applications; low- or medium-pressure refrigerants can be used for medium-temperature applications.

Variable-capacity OCUs — Digital compressors which provide variable-capacity modulation are now being used in OCUs to service multiple refrigeration loads per store. This added range of capacity greatly expands upon traditional remodel and rebuild options — in convenience stores, restaurants, small supermarkets, and click-and-collect operations — and offers the ability to replace three separate condensing units with one. Locating these OCUs in proximity to the refrigerated loads helps keep charge low, allowing them to meet even the most stringent environmental regulations. Variable-capacity modulation enables precise temperature control and excellent load matching capabilities for maximum energy efficiencies. See the Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series for more information.

Distributed micro-booster — This hybrid indoor/outdoor architecture utilizes proven booster technology — typically found in CO2 systems, however new innovative concepts permit the use of low GWP, low-pressure A1 refrigerants for both low- and medium-temperature loads while offering a familiar operation and maintenance footprint. The system utilizes outdoor condensing units for medium-temperature coolers and low-temperature compressors which are located directly on or above the frozen cases. Low-temperature compressors discharge into the nearest medium-temperature suction group, thereby eliminating the need to discharge all the way out to a remote condenser. This allows refrigerant charges and pressures to stay very low, while utilizing one low-GWP A1 refrigerant such as R-513A. Emerson has tested these systems in multiple locations and configurations, where they deliver exceptional performance and energy efficiencies.

Indoor distributed architecture — This flexible configuration utilizes self-contained condensing units located on or near refrigerated cases, islands or prep tables — with refrigerant options, including low-GWP A1s and R-290 (subject to allowable charge limits). Stores with multiple cases can be connected via a shared water or glycol loop to extract heat from each unit and divert it to a remote condenser/cooler. The inherent modular nature of this architecture limits leak rates and keeps charges very low while enabling a very simple, reliable and scalable operational footprint. See the award-winning Copeland Indoor Modular Solution for an end-to-end modular capability that provides seamless integration of refrigeration equipment with Emerson facility controls.

For more detailed information on any of these refrigeration architectures or their enabling technologies, view this webinar in its entirety.

[Webinar Recap] 8 Keys to Understanding the Ongoing Refrigerant Transition

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning applications is underway all around the globe. In the United States, ever-evolving state and federal regulations are forcing industry stakeholders to pay close attention to the developments taking place in their regions. Regardless of your specific location or operational requirements, the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants is being phased down in favor of alternatives with lower global warming potential (GWP).

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I recently co-hosted an E360 Webinar with Jennifer Butsch, Emerson’s regulatory affairs manager of air conditioning, to discuss the latest regulatory developments and industry trends driving this transition. For those who could not attend this informative session, you can view the webinar in its entirety. And if you need a primer for quickly understanding this transition, I developed the following list to highlight the key points of our discussion:

  1. The refrigerant transition is not new — In the 1980s, scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants — such as R-22 — were contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol Treaty was enacted in 1987 to ban the use of refrigerants with ozone depletion potential (ODP); since then, the hole in the ozone layer has steadily recovered. But the ban on these refrigerants led to the introduction of HFCs — such as R-404A and R-410A — which were then proven to cause global warming. As a result, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was established in 2016 to phase down the use of HFCs; it went into effect in 2019 for its 20 participating member countries.
  2. The transition is a global effort — Even before the Kigali Amendment went into effect, other global regions and countries established their own HFC phase-down regulations. The European Union’s F-Gas regulations, which went into effect in 2014, has led the way on establishing a framework for rulemaking. Environmental Canada enacted its own HFC rulemaking in 2017; many of its requirements went into effect this year.
  3. California takes initiative in the U.S. — In the absence of federal regulations, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has introduced its own HFC phase-down measures, starting with the adoption of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rules 20 and 21. In addition, it is currently working with industry associations and stakeholders to develop proposals to achieve additional GWP reductions by 2030. Many in the industry consider CARB’s proposals among the most ambitious in the world.
  4. States are joining the charge — Following California’s lead, many states have also committed to introduce climate change initiatives, including the reduction of HFCs. Currently, 25 members have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which now represents more than 55% of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy. A few member states have also adopted SNAP Rules 20 and 21 into law; however, each of these states has set forth varying implementation timelines, which will only add complexity to the national regulatory landscape.
  5. New federal regulations are on the horizon — To restore federal guidance pertaining to HFC phase-down regulations, both the Senate and the House have recently introduced new bills, respectively: The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2019, and the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act of 2020. Both bills align with the HFC reduction goals established in the Kigali Amendment and would authorize the EPA to once again regulate HFCs and establish standards for HFC
    management (servicing, repair, recovery, recycle, reclaim, etc.). The general consensus throughout the industry is that a standardized federal approach would minimize compliance complexities created by a potential patchwork of state regulations.
  6. The next generation of refrigerants is already here — Many low-GWP alternative refrigerants not only have been developed already, they are being designed to replace HFCs commonly used in specific applications today. These refrigerants offer varying GWP ranges and cover the spectrum of refrigerant safety classifications, from A1 (non-flammable) to A2L (mildly flammable) to A3 (highly flammable) and B2L (toxic, mildly flammable). It’s important to point out that many of the lowest-GWP alternatives are classified as A2L, and thus will require equipment and facility redesigns to meet application and safety standards.
  7. Safety standards and codes are evolving — With the industry moving toward the use of flammable refrigerants, the technical committees and governing bodies who provide guidelines on how to safely use these refrigerants are actively updating safety standards. While these activities are ongoing, it’s important to remember that once established, these standards will take several years to make their way into both model and local codes needed to permit the widespread use of flammable refrigerants. The industry still has more work to do before that becomes a reality.
  8. System architectures are changing — This transition is ushering in a new era of system architectures. To utilize low-GWP refrigerants, reduce refrigerant charges and the potential for leaks, look for the commercial refrigeration industry to shift from traditional centralized systems toward more distributed approaches. Natural refrigerant architectures — such as CO2 transcritical booster and R-290 integrated cases — will also continue to expand. Manufacturers are utilizing familiar booster technologies and components to help end users transition to lower-GWP A1s today and even lower-GWP A2Ls in the future. In trials, these systems have provided significant energy savings with reduced installation costs and refrigerant charges.

To learn more details about any of these points, please view this informative webinar in its entirety.

New Capabilities Take Supervisory Controls to the Next Level

SamSmith Sam Smith | Product Manager

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The Emerson Supervisory Controls platform can help to improve operational efficiency, drive greater cost savings and enhance environmental conditions for customers and staff alike. Our latest E360 Product Spotlight highlights how Emerson has re-engineered the industry-leading, total-facility controls platform to streamline performance and simplify management tasks.

New Capabilities Take Supervisory Controls to the Next Level

New Capabilities Take Supervisory Controls to the Next Level

There is no shortage of pressing concerns for operators of small- and large-format grocers, restaurants and convenience stores. Yet in recent years, multiple factors have pushed operational and energy performance to the top of the list.

Tight margins and sustainability goals increasingly call for smarter energy use. A growing shortage of qualified technicians and ever-evolving consumer expectations for convenience further complicate the issue. As a result, the abilities to streamline site performance and simplify facility management are no longer luxuries; they are fundamental to long-term profitability.

In response, Emerson has re-engineered its Supervisory Controls platform to help facility operators achieve a higher level of performance.

Total-facility control made smarter

Supervisory Controls provides building and system management, control, power and simplified operation for refrigeration, HVAC, lighting and other critical equipment and systems. Operations of all sizes rely on the platform for real-time insights into issues that influence operating costs, food safety and customer experiences.

To keep pace with today’s demanding marketplace, we’ve updated our suite of robust, easy-to-use features with capabilities that provide improved visibility and insights into systems and equipment:

Smart Alarms: Alarms are a critical component to maintaining equipment and minimizing system downtime. But a constant stream of unprioritized alerts can degrade productivity. Smart Alarms prioritizes issues using simple language to help operators recognize when immediate action is required. In addition, it generates a list of possible causes and potential resolutions to help operators diagnose the root causes of issues and potentially prevent costly truck rolls.

Site Aggregator: Site Aggregator provides a consolidated view of equipment and systems in facilities that use multiple Supervisory Controllers and/or the E2 Facility Management Controller. Operators can navigate easily and conveniently between controllers from a single location.

Performance Meter: Enterprise-level visibility is essential to fine-tune operations, reduce energy waste and maintenance costs and avoid food safety issues. Performance Meter enables operators to keep a finger on the pulse of their systems by providing access to real-time performance data.

Floor Plans: Floor Plans makes it easy to identify and monitor active alarms in each key facility system by providing 2D and 3D visualizations of the facility’s layout and equipment. The Floor Plans also integrates with Emerson’s Connect+ Enterprise Management software.

These new capabilities build on Supervisory Controls’ existing feature-rich toolset to provide operators with:

  • Powerful control to manage alerts, alarms, energy use, scheduling, maintenance information, advanced reporting and more
  • Rapid response to immediate and potential issues
  • Intuitive navigation that requires no special training for day-to-day operation
  • Simplified setup to accelerate performance management
  • A user-friendly interface that makes scheduling, report viewing and screen organization easier
  • A mobile-optimized solution to provide anywhere/anytime access to data from a mobile device

The food retail and service industry is undergoing a dynamic transformation, and its operators are under tremendous pressure to adjust quickly to changing conditions. Versatility will be key to carving out a competitive space in both the near- and long-term future. That’s why Emerson designed flexibility into the Supervisory Controls platform. It is as equally effective in greenfield applications as selective retrofits and complete remodels. In addition, it can be integrated seamlessly with existing systems to provide operators with the insights they need, where they need them.

Emerson understands the multifaceted challenges that you are up against. Our solutions incorporate emerging technologies with proven expertise to deliver capabilities that support data-driven decision making. Learn more about our latest innovations by reading the full E360 article.

 

The Compact Digital X-Line Series Is Changing the Game for Small-Format Retailers

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The abilities of small-format food retailers and restaurants to maximize energy savings and refrigeration reliability just keep getting better. Our latest E360 Product Spotlight on the Copeland Scroll™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series highlights how Emerson is helping to provide operators with more control over their energy bills and food safety needs.

Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

When it comes to refrigeration strategies, creative planning is key for small-format supermarkets, convenience stores and foodservice establishments. For these operations, finding the space — both physically and fiscally —to install and maintain standard industry condensing units can require balancing acts, tradeoffs and expensive workarounds.

The Copeland Scroll Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series is changing the equation. Designed specifically for small-format operations, it delivers more precise refrigeration, longer-lasting equipment and lower energy bills. Just as important, its lightweight, slim footprint offers unmatched installation flexibility for space-constrained operations.

Ideal for walk-in coolers, display cases and food preparation areas, the digital X-Line Series combines compression technology with variable-speed fan motor control, large-capacity condenser coils, and smart protection and diagnostics. By building on the Copeland Scroll and X-Line outdoor condensing unit platforms, Emerson packaged its field-proven technology specifically for confined locations and demanding refrigeration requirements.

Superior efficiency and temperature control

The digital X-Line Series enables operators to maintain food at optimum temperature — which can help to lessen food waste, improve food safety and quality while lowering their bottom line. The unit’s superior cooling and energy efficiency are achieved through digital modulation, which maintains much tighter control of case temperatures. Continuous capacity modulation from 20 to 100 percent further reduces compressor cycling and decreases energy consumption. For operators, this translates into:

  • Substantial annual improvements in energy efficiency
  • Longer equipment life
  • Improved product integrity
  • Higher confidence in food quality and safety

Exceptional reliability and performance safeguards

Built-in CoreSense™ diagnostics and protection helps to safeguard against compressor failures by quickly communicating errors to service technicians. The self-diagnosing system also can make changes to avoid failure, further securing product safety and minimizing equipment downtime.

Inherent installation flexibility

With its slim chassis, lightweight design and wall-mount option, the digital X-Line Series provides greater flexibility for where and how units are installed. This allows operators to maximize their available space while mitigating installation costs. The digital X-line Series is typically tied to multiple evaporators across various applications.

Ultra-quiet operation

Size isn’t the only factor that limits options. As operators on tight sites and in urban locations well know, noise can also restrict unit selection and placement. But that’s not the case with the digital X-Line Series, which was strategically designed for quiet operation. With noise levels that are practically undetectable, the digital X-Line Series is a natural choice for residential areas, noise-restricted zones and locations where louder units would detract from the customer experience.

Engineered for extreme conditions

The digital X-Line Series may be compact and remarkably quiet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. The unit is designed to operate in harsh and extreme conditions — from low ambient conditions to temperatures up to 120 °F — and it’s resistant to corrosion. CoreSense electronic controls constantly tune and adapt the system for optimum performance and efficiencies in any condition.

Refrigeration strategies that work

Rising energy rates and high customer expectations are making energy performance and floor plan adaptability critical to operational success. At Emerson, we are redefining refrigeration technologies and strategies to help small-format operations be more competitive in their markets. From decreased costs to smarter insights to greater peace of mind, the digital X-Line Series provides versatility and a lower total cost of ownership.

Learn more about how the digital X-Line Series is boosting outdoor condensing unit performance by reading the full E360 article.

 

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

MattToone_2 Matt Toone | Vice President, Sales & Solutions – Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Whether you’re a convenience store (c-store) operator, quick-service restaurant (QSR), or a fast casual or fine dining establishment, ensuring food quality and safety is imperative to your success. In this blog, the third of a three-part series based on a recent E360 article, Minimizing Food Safety Risks From Farm to Fork, I explore how advanced technologies can protect food safety at every step in the cold chain.

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

Food safety and quality are the cornerstones to any successful foodservice operation. The ability for operators to deliver on both, however, hinges in large part on an interdependent supply chain of multiple, diverse stakeholders. Yet many operators are unaware of the efforts required to maintain food safety and quality throughout this cold chain.

Until now.

The rise of internet of things (IoT) technologies is providing unprecedented opportunities to monitor, control and track the many factors that influence quality during food’s long journey from farms to customers. For foodservice operators, this means greater control over ensuring that food is safe on receipt. Exercising this power starts with understanding the cold chain and how data is collected.

The cold chain journey

As foodservice operators well know, the pressure to protect food safety is felt most acutely where customers buy or consume food. But every stakeholder in the cold chain is responsible for maintaining food quality and freshness:

  • Harvesting and processing: The cold chain journey begins at the moment of harvest, where everything from the time of day to environmental conditions affect quality. Processors use a variety of strategies, including temperature controls, to slow or halt the decay process. The pipeline of data monitoring also begins at this stage, with pulp temperature probes and temperature loggers and trackers.
  • Transportation: Whether food is shipped by land, sea or air, reputable transport companies will apply a variety of best practices and technologies to protect its quality. Independent temperature monitoring, logging and tracking devices that provide real-time communications are essential at this stage. These systems enable remote monitoring and issue alert notifications when deviations in temperatures, humidity, modified atmosphere settings and vibration occur.
  • Cold storage: Cold storage distribution centers are another vital link in the cold chain. Here, data is collected at several points to ensure that food meets documented food safety standards. Many of these facilities employ different temperature zones and use both industrial and commercial refrigeration technologies. Devices that can work across disparate systems to monitor, record and maintain proper temperatures are critical to providing temperature certainty.
  • Restaurants: From the moment they accept a shipment, operators take ownership of food safety. For this reason, they should meticulously inspect all data accrued during the product’s journey to ensure it was kept at optimal conditions. After receipt, advanced facility and refrigeration controls can help operators maintain proper temperatures and comply with food safety regulations.

Solutions to protect food safety at every step

The cold chain can involve multiple hand-offs as food makes a days- or weeks-long journey to its final destination. That’s why end-to-end solutions for cold chain technologies are so essential to protecting food safety. An unbroken chain of data, paired with the streamlining capabilities of IoT technologies, puts greater oversight of food quality into the hands of operators and their suppliers.

At Emerson, we have both the refrigeration expertise and targeted solutions for nearly every point along the food supply chain. Our growing portfolio of connected, communicating devices and enterprise management software provides the solutions and resources our customers need to achieve cold chain temperature certainty and verification throughout food’s journey.

From compression and refrigeration system technologies, to case controls and facility management devices, to temperature loggers, trackers and probing devices, to software and services — we’re a leading single-source partner dedicated to helping our customers ensure full cold chain integrity.

So if you’re ready to take your operation to the next level with advanced controls and technologies, contact Emerson today.

 

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