Why Refrigeration Is Hot at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

servicing a refrigeration unit
A hot, humid summer reemphasizes the importance of learning proper servicing techniques for refrigeration, which was part of the SkillsUSA contest in Kansas City, Mo.

I just spent several days in Kansas City, Mo., for the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

The thermometer in my rental car hit 100°F as I was driving into town. I kept my radios in the car and the hotel on local country music so I only heard brief weather snippets that indicated temperatures officially in the upper 90s.

Once out of the heat and humidity and inside air conditioned Bartle Hall for the HVACR contest, I found, as usual, lots of attention given to refrigeration. One aspect of the HVACR contest involved servicing a reach-in refrigeration unit with pull-out mechanicals. Contestants not only had to diagnose a problem, but get low to the ground to do so.

And, of course, contestants worked with recovery equipment, vacuum pumps, and a range of tools. There was also attention during the week of seminars and meetings on the importance of developing soft skills as in dealing with customers.

There, I thought, is a valuable learning tool — working on that unit — especially during these hot days of summer. For now is the time of year in which ice machines can go on the fritz, especially those in open motel corridors that have direct access to rooms from parking lots. And supermarkets are especially vulnerable should freezers holding fast-selling ice cream and frozen treats fail. Technicians will be called to the site quickly with expectations of a quick resolution.

That’s barely scratching the surface of where refrigeration is needed. But the heat outside and the refrigeration skill development going on inside in Kansas City made me appreciate the refrigeration sector of our industry and all those who work in it, and especially those young people who want to enter the sector.

By the way, the July FROSTlines included a photo of the show floor at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago, and I asked you to flag manufacturers who had something directly to do with refrigeration. I spotted Hobart, Scotsman, and Master-Bilt — but there could be more.

Publication date: 7/30/2012

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