Cold Link Africa CLA_June_2023 | Page 24

Recent studies estimate that refrigeration systems account for 30 % to 60 % of the electricity used by a store – whether a supermarket or a corner tavern .

How one company ‘ greens ’ its coolers

By Eamonn Ryan

Recent studies estimate that refrigeration systems account for 30 % to 60 % of the electricity used by a store – whether a supermarket or a corner tavern .

Driven by the net-zero emission drive and consequences of load shedding , food retailers have been driving this down , shifting to energy-efficient refrigeration cabinets .

Manufacturers have been a major contributor to this drive .
In the 1980s , Staycold International ’ s core product lines diversified into commercial refrigeration units , particularly the selfcontained beverage coolers found in every corner shop , tavern , mom-pop store and liquor store across South Africa .
Sebastian Hills , sales director of Staycold , says a big part of being ‘ green ’ is being not just energy efficient but reliable and durable for the environment in which they are placed . “ Our cabinets work in ambient temperatures up to 42 ° C , ideal for warm regions like the northern Free State markets in which we operate . The hotter the temperature outside the cabinet , the more difficult it is to remove heat from the condenser which has an impact on the unit ’ s ability to cool down internally .”
There are a number of different global standards , with the norm for supermarket open-front refrigerators being tested to an ambient temperature of 25 ° 5 degrees , which is the accepted temperature that a supermarket would be a comfortable at . The next level , which is called CC2 is 32 ° C ambient , and CC3 is 40 ° C ambient and 65 % RH – this CC3 category is where we operate .
Hills notes that from a temperature perspective , taverns and shops are typically warm environments , and having a cabinet capable of functioning up to 40 degrees ambient temperature is a key attribute to ensure the product in the cabinet remains cold . Staycold ’ s green credentials stem from a multitude of factors , adds Hills .
“ Part of the technology available today is the digital controllers or the energy
management devices becoming smarter . This has evolved from a rudimentary mechanical thermostat into electronic thermostats . We now have energy management devices , which not only control the switching on and off of the compressor from a temperature perspective , but also regulate and fluctuate the fan controls inside the unit using eco-mode , during low usage , along with turning the lights on and off accordingly .” He gives the example of a supermarket open 9am-6pm each day , but effectively not required for more than just maintaining a steady temperature during the evening hours . “ With non-perishable items you can even raise the temperature in the cooler units out of hours which ultimately reduces their energy consumption ( EC ). We also have EC fan motors which are electronically communicative fan motors using about 70 % less electricity than the standard shaded pole motor .”
This gives the shop or tavern owner a lower energy bill , as well as fewer breakdowns because of its suitability to a warm environment due to the reduced strain on the system .
Staycold ’ s building in Parys , Free State with solar panels .
Hills says Staycold is on a path to net-zero to measure its emissions footprint by 2050 not just in terms of refrigeration , but across all elements of business . “ Our biggest energy footprint is from the cabinets coming out of the factory . Our R & D is focused on reducing the energy to make them . We recently installed a 250 000 watt solar plant on the roof of our factory in Parys , to supplement our power requirements with renewables . It also uses borehole water to a considerable degree and filters the water back into the groundwater .”
He notes that this is a journey : “ We would love to have our full facility working purely on solar , but it ' s an intensive investment we ’ re doing in stages . Furthermore , we have adopted ISO 9001 best practice within the factory , and the business is certified as to good quality management . We ’ re also planning towards ISO environmental certification .
“ Much of the green evolution at Staycold stems from the need to meet the net-zero requirements of their larger corporate customers – AB InBev , Coca Cola , Heineken and others . This extends not just to energy efficient cabinets , but the
All photos Supplied Staycold
Sebastian Hills , sales director of Staycold .
‘ circularity ’ or the lifecycle of the product . This includes creating conditions which facilitate extending the cabinet ’ s intended lifecycle , as well as what happens to it at the end of its lifecycle . This also covers interchangeability and compatibility of parts of the cabinet .”
Some units were manufactured 10 years ago , and beverage manufacturers are keen that parts like fan motors can still be replaced . The norm ten years ago was a shaded pole fan motor , raising the question of whether these can be effectively replaced with the modern EC motor , and whether the materials are recyclable . “ The biggest challenges come from plastic parts and the insulation foam when it comes to recycling , however we are closely monitoring developments and technology in these fields that will enable us to eventually overcome them ,” says Hills . CLA

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