While it is true that today’s modern refriger- ated cases offer a world of benefits previously unseen to both retailers and consumers, maintain- ing and monitoring these complex refrigeration sys- tems requires the efficiency and precision that only
advanced technology brings.
The ability to both control energy costs and run stores more effectively has been a long time coming. Despite that supermarket refrigeration systems consume an average of 45-50 percent of a store’s total
energy expenditures, more attention has often been paid, until recently,
to lowering HVAC and lighting costs than boosting refrigeration
But we are seeing this begin to change as developments in technology
make what previously was just imagined now possible.
According to John Whitworth, market development manager/retail
for Washington, Mo.-based KE2 Therm Solutions, the timing could not
be better. The rise of internet grocery sales is shifting how supermarkets
utilize their current facilities and design future ones, says Whitworth,
noting that the changes have placed higher load requirements on some
refrigeration circuits than they have been designed to handle.
“How to adjust and compensate for this shift in a cost-effective way
is a challenge all supermarkets will face,” he explains, adding that many
retailers, including Walmart, have greatly expanded their online ordering and pick-up services. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods will
also increase the trend to online ordering and store pick-up of orders
versus customers shopping from the supermarket aisles.
“Customers are now effectively shopping from the ‘back of the store,’
which is putting a different type of load and daily use on larger storage
freezers and coolers,” Whitworth says. To that end, KE2 Therm’s adaptive controls help maximize equipment through real-time management
of defrost and refrigeration controls to avoid excessive frost build up on
the evaporators and refrigerated product caused by the excessive door
openings. KE2 Therm has worked with Walmart to better manage the
product storage freezers to cope with this change in how this equipment is utilized.
Experts like Whitworth predict the use of technology to remotely
monitor and control refrigeration systems will expand rapidly in the
coming year, with the primary goal of identifying issues before they
become problems, alongside an overall reduction of service costs.
As increased demands are placed on cold storage requirements, retailers will need to find new ways to control costs, notes Amrit Robbins,
DES I G N & OPERATIONS
G H Q
Much goes into the behind the scenes of keeping today’s
complex refrigeration systems running smoothly.
By carol radice