Spanning approximately 260 square miles, the School District of Washington, Mo., is geographically one of the largest school districts in the state. Maintenance of the district’s 11 schools, particularly the refrigeration equipment, presented an ongoing challenge for district technicians, as well as Joy Chartrau, director of food services.

The district operates five facilities with walk-in freezers/coolers. Chartrau said she had investigated monitoring options for the equipment, but found them cost prohibitive and the capabilities limited.

“I’ve wanted a monitoring system for a long time; the ability to have definite numbers for HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) without having kitchen personnel manually recording the temperature data for each case. Being able to see if there is an emergency with this system, review the diagnostics, prepare to fix the problem and order parts, a lot can be done prior to our maintenance staff being on site. This not only will save dollars on employee’s time, but also travel. This is a good thing for a district our size.”

Then maintenance supervisor for the district, Glen Bade, approached Chartrau about a new controller from KE2 Therm Solutions that would not only provide monitoring, it was also designed to help save energy, he said. They knew they had found what they were looking for. With a projection of energy savings, and the promise of a rebate from the local utility, getting authorization to proceed with the retrofit was easy.

For the five facilities with walk-in freezers/coolers, a total of 11 KE2 Therm controllers were installed. When the district first installed them, the diagnostic capability of the controller revealed several system issues including improper superheat settings and faulty defrost heater elements. The programs were quickly corrected, and once up and running with the controllers, the facilities saw a decrease in defrosts of up to 87 percent. And, for the month of September alone, the district realized almost $1,400 in energy savings at the five locations, compared with September of a year before.
Chartrau explained another benefit of the controller — reducing product spoilage. “Over the summer there are two months where no one is in the school to check the units.

We’ve found freezers before that were down and everything had to be pitched.” With the controller, that problem has been eliminated. Emailed or text message alarm alerts are sent directly from the controller to designated personnel, allowing for immediate action.

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Publication date: 01/09/2012