The Gold award in the Refrigeration and Ice Machines category goes to the Copeland Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series by Emerson. This unit is designed specifically for convenience stores, small-format food retail outlets, restaurants, and similar applications that have multiple loads that require capacity control to maintain tighter temperature and suction pressure. It is ideal for multiplexing walk-in coolers, display cases, food preparation areas, reach-ins, and other common refrigeration equipment.
“With today’s refrigeration challenges, the digital X-Line unit offers a superior solution for food safety and energy savings through proven Copeland digital scroll technology, large-capacity condenser coils, variable-speed fan motor control, and smart controls,” said Carmem Valle Pereira, product manager of condensing units at Emerson.
The digital X-Line unit is engineered to provide precise temperature control and significant energy savings to help operators manage their refrigeration and food safety needs. It enables advantages like substantial annual energy efficiency improvements and reduced compressor cycling, all while providing refrigeration reliability improvements like precise setting and tight control over case temperatures.
The X-Line Series is also flexible, with a slim, lightweight profile that eases the installation process, and cranes and heavy equipment are not typically needed to install a unit. Digital technology allows fewer units, thus reducing the overall refrigeration footprint at any given facility.
Technicians will appreciate the multiplexing capabilities of the unit, said Valle Pereira, which means that fewer condensing units are needed for numerous refrigeration loads. This results in fewer line runs, lower refrigerant charges, and faster installations. Electronic controls offer greater reliability than traditional mechanical controls, allowing technicians to diagnose issues quickly, accurately, and avoid nuisance service calls. Onboard diagnostics provide seamless integration to facility management control.
Peter Brennan, vice president, refrigeration group at Crosby-Brownlie Inc. in Rochester, New York, has installed the X-Line unit in cold storage facilities and food service in K-12 schools and higher education facilities. He appreciates how easy the units are to install, as well as Emerson’s Lumity Supervisory Control, which includes remote temperature monitoring, alarming, and system diagnostics.
“The X-Line Series are very cost-effective, simple, distributed refrigeration systems,” he said. “They range from small to moderate tonnage versus installing racks or large condensing unit type systems, but they have all the advanced technologies of the more centralized systems. They tend to be far less expensive than the centralized systems, yet they have excellent reliability and temperature range flexibility.”
Emerson continues to look for ways to improve its products, having spent the last five years gathering customer feedback on the fixed speed X-Line units. This is in addition to in-depth telephone interviews that were conducted with contractors and wholesalers in 2017 to gather feedback on the X-Line unit and one-on-one interviews conducted with end users, contractors, and wholesalers over the last three years.
The Silver award in the Refrigeration and Ice Machines category goes to the Low Profile Unit Cooler 2020 by Heatcraft. The cooler is designed to maximize cooling capacity while minimizing the footprint within the medium- or low-temperature walk-in coolers or freezers that are typically found in grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores.
Redesigned in 2020 to meet the new Department of Energy (DOE) 2020 Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF) efficiency standards, the cooler features improved serviceability features such as quick removal fan guards and motor mount assemblies and hinged access panels that can be easily removed while servicing the unit. Low Profile 2020 models also come standard with energy-efficient ECMs.
In designing the new cooler, Heatcraft conducted voice-of-customer interviews with contractors and end users and observed contractors installing units on site in order to note problem areas and concerns. Multiple focus groups allowed contractors to review designs and submit feedback, while field trials conducted with key customers were used to measure performance. After a year of research and two years of product development, Heatcraft introduced the Low Profile Unit Cooler to the market.
The company plans to continue to improve the cooler by implementing energy-efficient designs with contractor-friendly features.
The Bronze award in the Refrigeration and Ice Machines category goes to the Slim-Temp ASLA/ASLE Unit Cooler by Heat Transfer Products Group. These versatile compact coolers are specifically designed for cooling small (less than 3,000 square feet) walk-in coolers and freezers as well as display cases in grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores.
The Slim-Temp ASLA/ASLE models have been a popular product line, but legacy models were redesigned to be more energy efficient and circuited for high-glide refrigerants, as well as meet DOE’s AWEF regulations. In addition, new models feature energy-efficient dual speed ECMs, and fan motors are totally enclosed, permanently lubricated, and thermally protected to increase motor life and decrease maintenance. Features were also added to make installation and servicing easier for technicians.
It took 18 months to develop, plan, and design the new coolers. A cross-functional design team was established to focus on product development, and a voice of the customer process was utilized to identify the key features and enhancements most requested by customers. Further refinements were incorporated through laboratory testing, feedback, and commentary from industry partners and field testing.
In the future, Heat Transfer Products Group plans to make these units EcoNet-enabled so customers can have greater control over their walk-in coolers, freezers, and display cases.