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Posts tagged ‘Refrigeration’

Grow Your Bottom Line With Sustainable Refrigeration Retrofits

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development Manager, Food Retail

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Across the food retail market, supermarket operators are re-evaluating their legacy refrigeration architectures. A dynamic mix of regulatory mandates, sustainability goals and the emergence of e-commerce fulfillment models are dictating changes in the status quo of refrigeration. We recently published an article in the RSES Journal that discussed refrigeration retrofit strategies that allow retailers to meet their sustainability objectives while improving their bottom lines.

When considering refrigeration retrofits, food retailers must remember that sustainability is a two-sided coin. While reducing leaks of global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants is important for lowering direct emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), many supermarket operators often overlook the potential for indirect GHG emissions caused by poor system energy efficiencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that supermarkets are the most electricity-intensive of all commercial buildings. Commercial refrigeration systems account for 40–60% of supermarket energy consumption and are by far the greatest contributor to indirect GHG emissions. Combined, direct and indirect emissions make up the true measure of sustainability, or a system’s total equivalent warming impact (TEWI).

Reduce direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants

The transition from high-GWP refrigerants and those with ozone depletion potential (ODP) is inevitable. Common legacy refrigerant options such as the HFC R-404A will be phased down while hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as R-22 are being phased out. But this does not necessarily mean operators should immediately transition to an alternative refrigerant or embark on a complete refrigeration rebuild.

Lower-GWP A1 refrigerants, such as the hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blend R-448A/R-449A, are available that allow end-users to retrofit their existing system, reduce GWP from direct emissions by up to 60%, and still maintain a familiar operational footprint similar to the one they have today.

For those operators currently using R-22, the transition to R-448A/R-449A is relatively straightforward and requires very few substantive architecture changes. The transition from R-404A to R-448A/R-449A is slightly more involved but can still be accomplished without significant architectural changes. R-448A/R-449A produces compressor discharge temperatures that run approximately 10–12% higher than R-404A. This may require additional compressor cooling mitigation such as head cooling fans, demand cooling modules, or a liquid or vapor injected scroll compressor. Consult your compressor OEM’s guidelines for specific retrofit procedures.

Improve system energy efficiencies

Any system retrofit or upgrade comes at a cost, so food retailers must ensure their investment delivers long-term viability and returns to their bottom line. This is where reducing indirect emissions by improving energy efficiencies plays such an important role. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that every dollar saved in electricity is equivalent to increasing sales by $59.

While it makes sense to undertake energy-efficiency measures in conjunction with a refrigerant transition, energy optimization best practices can — and should — be performed periodically on all systems. Before considering any retrofit options, start by performing a system assessment to determine your current performance metrics — which in many cases will deviate significantly from the system’s original commissioned baseline.

The next logical step in the energy optimization process is to enable a variable-capacity modulation strategy by either upgrading to a digitally modulated compressor or adding a variable-frequency drive (VFD) to a fixed-capacity compressor. Variable-capacity modulation provides significant system improvements, not just to energy efficiency but also to overall refrigeration system performance, reliability and lifespan. Benefits include:

  • Precise matching of capacity to changing refrigeration loads
  • Tight control over suction manifold pressures, allowing increased setpoint and energy savings
  • Improved case temperature precision
  • Reduced compressor cycling (on/off)

In digital compressor retrofit scenarios, we’ve demonstrated that replacing an underperforming, fixed-capacity compressor with a variable-capacity compressor can result in an additional 4% energy savings — even before activating digital modulation capabilities. And once digital modulation is activated, operators can expect an additional 12% energy savings.

Whether you’re trying to reduce your direct emissions with lower-GWP refrigerants or seeking to improve energy efficiencies and lower your indirect emissions, Emerson has compression technologies and sustainable refrigeration solutions to help you meet your specific objectives. The Copeland™ digital semi-hermetic and Copeland™ digital scroll compressors provide opportunities to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants and enable variable-capacity modulation to drive energy efficiencies.

Leveraging Predictive Maintenance in Commercial Refrigeration

JimMitchell_Blog_Image Jim Mitchell | Technical Manager of Customer Success

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Predictive maintenance is showing big promise in the HVACR market. I recently provided input for an article for ACHR The News that discusses how predictive maintenance technology is being used in the commercial and residential markets. You can read the full article, “Predictive Maintenance Brings New Potential to HVACR Service Market,” here.

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HVACR systems are becoming smarter and more connected using internet protocol (IP) networks and the industrial internet of things (IIoT). These allow the real-time monitoring of equipment, or predictive maintenance, which gathers data points from equipment to keep tabs on system performance in order to help reduce the likelihood of failure.

For HVACR contractors, this means identifying a problem before it causes a larger issue, so that maintenance can be done to prevent equipment negatively impacting food quality and safety or other operational imperatives. For instance, a refrigeration rack alarm may indicate an issue that can be addressed, preventing operational issues that could have a negative impact on multiple cases of perishable product or thousands of dollars in-store merchandise.

How it works

Drawing from a combination of equipment sensors and control system data, performance analytics can provide store operators and enterprise managers deeper insights for:

  • Real-time and historic operating conditions in their facilities and systems
  • Pressure, temperature and energy data to compare to established benchmarks for a single store, stores within a region or enterprise-wide
  • Enterprise-level and store-level dashboards and prioritized notifications

 

For an example of how this differs from a rack alarm scenario, let’s look at a display case analysis based on temperature sensor data. Performance analytics may detect an anomaly in case temperature deviations which, while still within safe ranges, could suggest the presence of a larger performance issue. Instead of being notified with an urgent alarm, operators can be alerted on their operational dashboards. This insight gives them an opportunity to investigate the issue at their discretion, and even potentially pre-empt a potentially larger issue. It’s important to keep in mind that timing is key.

This is also an example of how operational dashboards can help retailers to align maintenance and operational activities around performance. Today’s facility management dashboards typically break down the urgency levels of maintenance issues, as previously noted. By extending these dashboards also to include performance analytics, end users can gain a much deeper understanding of how their systems are performing and operators can take pre-emptive actions where they deem appropriate — not just respond only to systems where urgent problems are already present.

Equipped with this information, operators can receive advance notice of certain performance issues that may soon impact them — on which systems or pieces of equipment, and in which stores. Enterprise views quickly provide managers with visual snapshots of urgent and important issues across their store networks, while enabling investigation into specific assets in their respective facilities. Whether you’re a maintenance technician or an enterprise manager, operational dashboards help allow you to focus on those specific maintenance activities which may potentially impact performance in the near future.

A change in approach

Commercial refrigeration systems consist of many connected components — often originating from multiple vendors — designed to meet a wide variety of applications, ranging from coffin-style display cases to walk-in freezers. Industry macro trends further increase this complexity, including the adoption of new refrigerants and the migration from centralized to decentralized and stand-alone systems. Commercial contractors will need to do more than simply install connected sensors and devices; they will need to change their approach toward commercial refrigeration, including the ability to combine new technologies with deep experience within the context of widely varying system requirements.

Rather than focusing only on what is happening at any given moment in a location — whether that’s a low- or high-priority alarm — analytics can help operators gain deeper insights into issues that could have future operational impacts. Access to these insights helps operators transition to a condition-based, analytics-driven approach — one where they can take proactive steps, perform preventive maintenance, use resources more efficiently, and stop smaller issues from becoming larger problems — instead of a more reactive approach.

What to watch for

IIoT features new technologies that will likely result in operators being able to deploy interconnected devices more widely, potentially at a lower initial cost. These offerings may drive value for operators by causing significant energy savings, lower maintenance and service costs, and improved operator experiences.

At Emerson’s innovation centers and in customer field trials, we are working with our customers to tackle the challenges related to predictive maintenance head on. By modeling refrigeration applications, we have helped our partners take a more methodical, deliberate approach to predictive maintenance. Our goal is not simply to throw more IIoT at the problem, but to help provide true insights from the data while leveraging our deep intellectual capital and experience in the commercial refrigeration space. We believe this helps us deliver the transformative value that predictive maintenance represents. By doing so, we can be a part of simplifying the complex and uncover insights that are representative of the industry’s most common refrigeration scenarios.

For example, a typical refrigeration system or rack has alarms that identify current issues only, and slow leaks often can be difficult to discern from normal fluctuations. But with a machine-learning supervisory app, multiple models can account for variable operating envelopes with up to ~90% accuracy and identify leaks as many as 30 days before physical detection devices.

While it is difficult to predict five years in the future accurately, it is safe to assume that with the adoption of 5G technology and other advances in component miniaturization and cost reduction, solutions will continue to get smarter. With a flood of data occurring at both the enterprise level (reporting) and the device level (gathering data), we will need more intelligence in interpreting this information in order to help deliver better, more accurate results.

In the meantime, one thing that contractors can do is avoid the rush to recommend IIoT implementation that can result in applications which can create more “noise” — i.e., a barrage of events to monitor and triage — and trigger false errors or events that identify issues too early (or too late).

 

 

Information in this article was first published in ACHR The News, March 16, 2020.

[Webinar Recap] Digital X-Line Enhances Proven Condensing Unit Platform

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

For decades, fixed-capacity outdoor condensing units (OCUs) have been a popular architecture choice for foodservice and food retail applications — providing refrigeration for walk-in coolers, display cases and food preparation tables. With recent advances in digital compression technology to enable variable-capacity modulation, modern condensing units offer an even more compelling alternative to traditional centralized architectures. In our recent webinar, I discussed the many benefits of taking a decentralized approach to refrigeration, specifically by using Emerson’s Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line series.

[Webinar Recap] Digital X-Line Enhances Proven Condensing Unit Platform

First, it’s important to review the many reasons why fixed-capacity condensing units have experienced wide industry adoption. Their simple architecture — with one dedicated condensing unit per evaporator (or refrigeration fixture) — makes them extremely easy to implement and a flexible option for load expansion or facility retrofits. By locating the condensing units outside the store, this approach also removes heat and mechanical sound from the shopping environment. In addition, their air-cooled design removes the need for water loops while eliminating excess cost and unit cooling.

But there is always room for improvement. So, we reached out to our customer base to gather feedback about their pain points when using these fixed-capacity OCUs. Common challenges included: the use of mechanical controls; lack of remote communications, onboard diagnostics and system protections; limited mounting/installation options; single speed (on/off) fan cycling; single unit required for every load with each unit individually wired.

Overcoming these challenges became the basis of our Copeland™ Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line series launched a few years ago. X-Line offered the following improvements:

  • Slim, lightweight profile — can be wall-mounted or mounted on rails
  • Quiet — can be located near entrances, patios or residential areas
  • Energy efficient — Copeland scroll compression, variable-speed fan motor control, large condenser coils and enhanced vapor injection (on low-temp, fixed-speed only)
  • Connectivity — communicates with facility management systems, such as Emerson’s XWEB, Site Supervisor and E2 platforms
  • Protection — electronic controls enhance reliability; on-board diagnostics enable fast setup, troubleshooting and alert codes
  • AWEF-compliant — meeting DOE (Department of Energy) regulations

Digital modulation addresses additional customer challenges

With the introduction of the digital X-Line, Emerson was able to address another key customer challenge — requiring a separate condensing unit for each refrigeration load — while enabling variable-capacity modulation from 100% to 20%. The digital X-Line utilizes multiplexing technology to connect multiple fixtures to one condensing unit and detects the required refrigeration demand from each fixture. So, if the digital X-Line were servicing multiple evaporators and only one was calling for cooling, the digital X-Line can run at less than 100% capacity and match the exact load capacity requirement at that moment. This means that operators will need fewer condensing units to meet their refrigeration demands — potentially reducing the equipment footprint.

Other installation benefits include:

  • Simple and quick commissioning — requires only three setpoints: refrigerant, time clock and suction pressure
  • Reduced refrigerant charge and line sets — up to 50% reduction with the option to utilize lower-GWP alternatives
  • Reduced costly call-backs — advanced diagnostics help contractors set it up right the first time

From an operational standpoint, the digital X-Line is designed to deliver continuous performance improvements that impact food quality/safety, energy efficiency and servicing, such as:

  • Tight temperature precision — digital, variable-capacity modulation enables precise control over case temperatures to maximize food quality and safety
  • Energy efficiency gains — larger condenser coils, electronic controls and digital compression (which reduce large amp draws from excessive starts/stop) deliver substantial energy efficiency savings
  • Advanced diagnostics and protection — onboard controls alert end users of faults and KPIs, simplify troubleshooting and provide compressor protection

It’s also important to point out that the digital X-Line maintains the platform’s ultra-quiet operation, which allows the units to be installed nearly anywhere without disrupting customers or neighbors.

Whether you operate a convenience store, restaurant, supermarket or cold storage facility, the digital X-Line provides operators with a state-of-the-art OCU solution that’s ideal for meeting today’s challenging refrigeration requirements. To learn more about the benefits of the digital X-Line in these applications, view this webinar in its entirety.

[New Webinar] Will Explore the Advantages of Digital Outdoor Refrigeration

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

Outdoor condensing units (OCUs) have been a mainstay for small refrigeration applications for decades. In an upcoming webinar, we will review recent OCU technology innovations that utilize digital compressors to achieve the many benefits of variable-capacity modulation. This informative webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 9 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT.

New Webinar

Commonly used by small-format grocers, convenience stores and restaurants, OCUs have traditionally provided refrigeration for walk-in coolers, display cases and food preparation rooms. By equipping this proven refrigeration strategy with digital compressors, OCUs can provide a greatly expanded role in refrigeration applications. We will explore these new possibilities by taking a closer look at Emerson’s Copeland Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series.

Instead of providing one refrigeration load per unit, the digital X-Line allows operators to service multiple refrigeration loads with one unit — potentially eliminating the need for multiple condensing units. In addition, their ability to modulate capacity per refrigerated load requirements enables precise temperature control and load matching for maximum energy efficiencies.

Webinar attendees will learn how the digital X-Line delivers major advancements to outdoor refrigeration:

  • Fewer units to install and maintain
  • Tight temperature precision
  • Simple and quick commissioning
  • Lightweight and flexible installation options
  • Reduced costly call-backs via advanced diagnostics
  • Lowered refrigerant charge and line sets

Unlike traditional OCUs that utilize a fixed-capacity compressor, the digital X-Line enables continuous capacity modulation from 20 to 100 percent to deliver significant reductions in energy consumption and refrigeration improvements. This advanced compression technology — combined with variable-speed fan motor control, large-capacity condenser coils, and smart protection and diagnostics — provides operators with a state-of-the-art OCU solution that’s ideal for meeting today’s challenging refrigeration requirements.

To learn more about the benefits of variable-capacity modulation in OCUs, register now for this free webinar.

Upgrade Compressors to Extend Commercial Refrigeration System Lifespan

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

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

ACHR News recently interviewed me for an article titled “Compressor Retrofits on the Rise in Commercial Refrigeration.” It featured a variety of perspectives on the merits of compressor retrofits versus total system replacement. The article can be found here.

When facility energy costs creep up, one of the first suspects is almost always the commercial refrigeration system. It’s a reasonable assumption to make. Over time, it’s very common for energy efficiency to decline as systems drift from their original commissioned performance baselines.

But that doesn’t make a total system replacement inevitable. Many food retailers are reclaiming energy efficiencies by pairing system recommissioning with a measurement and verification (M&V) program and targeted compressor upgrades. In the process, they can reduce energy consumption, improve system performance and reliability and extend the system’s lifespan without the capital investment and business interruption that a full system replacement would require.

Back to the (factory spec) basics

Prolonged use, normal wear and tear and migration from recommended setpoints can degrade efficiency over time. Recommissioning fine-tunes the refrigeration system so that it operates as intended. The process typically involves optimizing every setpoint, cleaning condensers and replacing damaged components. Often, operators can capture significant savings just by recalibrating their system to factory specifications.

Implementing an M&V program ensures those savings are sustainable. Energy-monitoring equipment that delivers real-time insights will help operators ensure their equipment stays in tune. When variances occur, contractors can quickly identify the root cause and address the issue. But just as important, they can use the data generated by the M&V program to make informed decisions on future improvements.

Greater efficiency through variable-capacity modulation

The next step is to enhance energy efficiencies in low- and medium-temperature racks by upgrading to a digital compressor with variable-capacity modulation or by adding a variable frequency drive (VFD). Often, the best candidates for replacement are fixed-capacity compressors that are underperforming or the smallest displacement compressors in each rack.

By adding a variable-capacity digital compressor or VFD to the mix, operators can:

  • Accurately match capacity to changing refrigeration loads
  • Improve case temperature precision
  • Reduce compressor cycling
  • Maintain tighter control over suction manifold pressures

One often overlooked solution is the option to add a VFD to legacy Copeland™ Discus and Copeland™ Scroll fixed-capacity compressors. Perhaps a more common solution is replacing one or even two underperforming fixed-capacity compressors with a digital compressor such as a Copeland Discus Digital or Copeland Scroll Digital compressor — both of which enable variable-capacity modulation to deliver significant energy savings.

When a leading supermarket chain tested the strategy on a 20-year-old, 45,000 square foot grocery store in Ontario, it found that:

  • Recommissioning reduced energy costs by 18%
  • Replacing two weaker units with Copeland Discus compressors reduced energy costs by an additional 16% and qualified the retailer for a local energy incentive program

The entire effort delivered an annual energy savings of more than $40,000.

Proven strategies for every situation

As other contributors to the article note, compressor upgrades (or retrofits) may not always be the right solution for every system. Depending on the age and condition of the equipment, a total system replacement may make more financial sense. This strategy would ensure all system controls and components are integrated and optimized for lower-GWP refrigerants.

Ultimately, choosing between a compressor retrofit or full system replacement should be a data-driven decision that operators make in consultation with their contractors. As a leader in commercial refrigeration and other cold chain technologies, Emerson can help operators maximize their return on that decision. We offer a full suite of components that boost energy efficiency and provide internet of things (IoT) capabilities for retrofits and new equipment alike. Our application engineers are available to answer questions related to refrigeration system performance, retrofit opportunities and strategies for maximizing energy efficiency.

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