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Posts tagged ‘Food Retail’

Emerson Will Present at GreenChill Webinar on Natural Refrigerants

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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.

Emerson Will Present at GreenChill Webinar on Natural Refrigerants

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:

  1. Visit the webinar access page: Making the Transition to an Effective Natural Refrigerant Architecture
  2. If you get a Window Security screen, click “OK”
  3. Select “Enter as a Guest”
  4. Enter your name
  5. Click “Enter Room”
  6. Click “OK”

Trends Impacting the Supermarket Refrigeration Landscape

JasonBorn_Blog_Image Jason Born | Innovation Lead, The Helix
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

During our E360 Forum last year in Houston, I led a Q&A panel discussion on the trends and market forces impacting the refrigeration landscape in food retail. Sharing their thoughts and insights were industry experts Derek Gosselin, director, technical product support, Hillphoenix; and Brad Thrasher, south central regional sales manager, Zero Zone. Below are some of their views on key trends; view the full E360 Forum presentation.

The Changing Face of Food Retail

Thirsty from wandering the aisles of your local grocery megamart? How about a craft beer break? Or maybe shopping for food just makes you hungry. Grocery shoppers today can virtually eat their way around the world as in-store food bazaars offer freshly prepared ethnic fare: Mexican “street food”, noodle bowls and wood-fired pizza. No time to shop? There’s always curbside pick-up of weekly grocery staples on your way home from work — just click and collect. And today, going small has never been bigger, with millennials and Generation Z flocking to urban areas and higher-density living. It’s no surprise that smaller-footprint grocery and food specialty stores are popping up in mixed-use buildings that were never intended to support things like complex refrigeration or HVAC systems.

Yes, the face of food retail is changing. And with this change comes a host of new opportunities (and challenges) for commercial refrigeration. I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways from this informative question and answer session.

On e-commerce, omnichannel and digital shopping

The first topic of discussion was the impact of the digital shopping trend. Today, more consumers are shopping for groceries online. I asked the panelists how brick-and-mortar retailers were responding.

Thrasher: I’ve seen some reports (FMI-Nielsen) that say that online grocery sales could grab up to 20 percent of the market. That seems pretty aggressive to me. But it’s definitely a rising trend. Traditional food retailers are responding by adding services like curbside pick-up. They are making home deliveries. You have to adapt to whatever direction the market is going.

Gosselin: For the retailers, it’s about what identifies them as different. Amazon is driving sales directly online. What can you offer to differentiate yourself, not only from online shopping, but the competition in your marketplace? Many stores have found success creating destination centers within their produce and other perimeter departments: food preparations, beer and wine tastings, restaurants, meals-to-go programs. That’s where the trends are going to be. And, of particular interest to everyone here: How do make sure you have appropriate refrigeration at these dynamic destination centers so that they can control your food quality and get it efficiently distributed?

On Click & Collect

Building on the idea of curbside service, I asked our panelists about the grocery pick-up lockers that are popping up everywhere and what that might mean for the future.

Gosselin: If you’re going to offer perishables as part of your curbside pick-up, you’re going to need to incorporate refrigeration. And it’s not just with in-store Click & Collect programs. I’ve also seen trends where retailers will place a portable refrigerated unit on your porch, so when they deliver fresh food or frozen items, they have a convenient and appropriately refrigerated location. Most consumers are probably not going to give you the key to their home.

Thrasher: Many stores are looking at self-contained or hybrid systems. Future refrigeration will need to be more flexible so that retailers can expand quickly and easily. If your curbside (pick-up) starts minimally but grows quickly, you’ll want a flexible, easy-to-implement solution so you can move quickly to serve customer demand.

Curbside pick-up is a relatively recent phenomenon. To add it as service, you have to dedicate and adapt more space in your store. But that doesn’t come without cost and questions. As we all know, for everything new you add in-store, something else will probably need to come out.

On the future

Before jumping into an audience Q&A, I asked the panelists how their retailers are dealing with change and some of the main factors driving their refrigeration decisions.

Thrasher: No one knows with certainty where the future will go. Some decisions will continue to be informed by technology and regulatory changes. And, certainly, costs always play a critical role. With refrigerants, for example, as regulations come, they may eliminate possibilities. It’s hard to go “all in” into a refrigerant when it could eventually be obsoleted, driving costs up for replacements. The same concept applies to system architectures.

Gosselin: How do you get in front of change? Do you go micro-distributed? Do you use natural refrigerants? What technologies will be developed in answer to changing rules?

For the end user, the challenge is not only what do they have to do to maintain their current fleet of stores, but what are they going to do for future stores so that they don’t add to the problems? And then how do they do that under a cost-effective and compliant refrigerant management program?

Thrasher: The bottom line is that there’s simply no one solution for everyone. Every retailer has a different set of objectives and challenges, influenced by regulations, technology and costs, but ultimately driven by the evolving needs of the markets they serve.

To take a deeper dive into our discussion, be sure to watch the full E360 Forum session.

 

Refrigeration Strategies for Enabling Flexible Merchandising

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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.

Ensuring Freshness in Click-and-Collect Fulfillment

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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.

 

Top 10 Emerson Blogs for 2018: Our Most Popular “Climate Conversations”

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

 

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