Hvaing insight into your refrigeration's operation, much like a warnings provides for your car, can be valuable when it comes to energy costs and maintenance.
As a company, we've observed and analyzed roughly refrigeration systems over the past 30 years. In that time, we've seen the same pain points, and have heard the same complaints over and over. And each comes from one starting point: a lack of awareness by our customers about their equipment's operation. This could mean anything from not knowing where to check for ice buildup, to not recognizing symptoms of a larger issue. But as an owner/operator, there are a few things you can do to check its operation, and have it lead to a reduction in operating costs, prevention of equipment failure (and subsequent costly repairs), and ensuring product safety.
Refrigeration systems have a great deal of both mechanical and electrical components that need periodic maintenance to keep it running at its most optimal.
The easiest comparison is to imagine your business' refrigeration system as your car. Certain attention must be paid to your vehicle to ensure efficient operation, good fuel economy, performance, and most of all, reliability. A car’s purpose is to get you somewhere safely and to start up when needed.
With a vehicle, there are tell-tale signs when something isn't operating correctly – you can hear noises, see a flat tire, and most provide a "check engine" notification on your dashboard when more serious problems lurk under the hood
Just as many people's livelihood relies on their car, many businesses' existence relies on their refrigeration system. Cold storage, distribution, wholesalers, manufacturers, foodservices--without proper refrigeration, these businesses couldn't function. Your products being safely stored at their necessary temperature is required 24/7/365 to maintain food safety, product shelf life, and to be able to deliver quality to your customers.
While temperatures are obviously a pivotal aspect of refrigeration to pay attention to, it is most-often an "under the hood" issue that affects what they read. By the time an owner/operator notices a temperature has gone out of the desired range, something else has failed first.
Refrigeration sometimes has an immediate catastrophic failure, while other times it is a slow, gradual decline in performance until there is some event that catches the owner/operator's attention.
Sticking with the car analogy, very often, tires don’t go flat immediately, or pop driving down the highway--they gradually lose pressure. Owners/operators need some simple things they can check periodically in their refrigeration system to ensure good, reliable operation that meets thermal requirements.
Evaporator coil (this would be the equivalent of how good your car tires are)
4. You know when your car engine does not sound right. In a refrigeration system, the compressor can make some unusual noises or run much louder than what you are used to hearing. Have it checked out before an expensive repair is required due to a more severe failure. If you hear the compressor starting and stopping (short cycling) every few minutes, it is a good idea to shut it down until a technician can check the cause.
Insulation on piping
As systems age, the insulation on the cold suction line going back to the compressor deteriorates and allows more heat to get through to the gas traveling in the pipe. Although it is not necessarily dangerous to the compressor, it does mean that energy is being wasted. Oh, and remember that the compressor is cooled by the returning cool gas, so it is important to re-insulate those lines when there is significant wear.
Understanding how refrigeration works
It is usually a challenge to read repair bills on refrigeration when you don’t know what they mean. Make sure you have a qualified and licensed technician working on your system. Take some time with your technician and have them explain what happened before or after a repair is proposed or performed. Youtube has many videos on refrigeration basics and the more you know, the more careful you will be able to watch over the engine that may be driving your business.
n an attempt to keep maintenance costs down, operators are always trying to extend service as long as possible. In many cases, the amount being saved ends up being spent on electricity costs because refrigeration systems require good operating conditions. Don’t be fooled by putting off service that could result in good day to day efficient operation.
Many of the clients we work with have real-time alerts and an online view of equipment performance where they can take action when needed. It's like having "OnStar" in a car.
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