The Internet has become a valuable resource in our industry. Many manufacturers, associations, and start-up Internet sites provide a wealth of information that could benefit both a service tech and the contracting company. Although a good portion of the information is sales related, there is an appreciable amount of technical information as well.

Technicians can obtain specifications on equipment and major system components, as well as instruction manuals and service information for a particular system component. They can purchase equipment, parts, textbooks, reference material, and software online. Technicians can also research where to buy specific equipment and replacement parts.

Manufacturers provide useful information on their websites. For example, some compressor manufacturers provide information on their products’ capacities and applications, as well as details on replacement components. This can help a technician find the right replacement component for a particular application.

Some refrigerant manufacturers provide EPA updates and compliance tips.

Some expansion valve manufacturers provide technical specifications and service information.

Some manufacturers also provide technical support via e-mail. Although this may be a slow process, it will generally get technicians accurate answers to their questions. If e-mail is unavailable, the site might include a listing of telephone numbers for technical support.

The Internet is also an excellent source for researching a company or finding a local distributor or parts wholesaler. A check of a website may take less time than phoning around.

Some information on websites can only be viewed or printed with the use of specific software, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Many computers already have this software installed. If a technician’s computer does not have such software, it can usually be downloaded free. Websites that require such software usually have a link to the site for downloading. Some websites may require a password to access certain information. Passwords are usually easy to obtain by submitting some basic user information to the website administrator.

Most of the major industry associations have well-developed websites. Their sites often have general technical information available for the user. If the association is sponsoring a technical seminar, it is usually well advertised on its site.

There are also several distributor/wholesaler websites where service technicians can purchase tools, equipment, and replacement parts online. Some of the sites offer discounts on purchases and can be paid via credit card or by setting up an online account. Shopping online may not help the technician technically, but it can save them time and money.

Not all websites offer useful information to the technician. Some are simply sales-oriented, and offer little or no technical information. Initially, it may take some time to search the Internet looking for the sites that have the information needed. But once those websites are found and bookmarked, they will be an excellent resource to access again and again.

Marchese is owner of Arctic-Air Refrigeration, Pittsburgh, PA. He can be reached at P.O. Box 97022, Pittsburgh, PA 15229; 412-734-4433.

Sidebar: New Freezing Equipment Aids Fish Processor

A Dutch specialist in fish preparation is using advanced freezing technology to significantly expand its freezing capacity. The company is Neerlandia Urk. The technology is represented by Frigoscandia Equipment’s Advantec™ impingement freezer.

The expansion of freezing capacity is taking the fish specialist from 500 metric tons per year to 50 metric tons per week. There are additional benefits, such as reduced product weight loss and a production area 40% smaller than originally planned. Neerlandia has been growing ever since the company was founded 28 years ago. “In 1974, our annual sales already totaled about 5 million guilders,” recalls managing director Albert Romkes, who cited annual sales of 30 million guilders in 1999. Neerlandia is adopting new technology, in the form of two high-tech freezers from Frigoscandia Equipment.

“The new plant’s capacity gives us the opportunity to increase our production five- to seven-fold,” said Romkes. “With the new freezers we can process up to 50 metric tons of fillets per week, and/or 20 metric tons of raw produce or 10 metric tons of fillets per day.”

He continued, “It took us almost a year to select the plant concept best suited to our needs. Of great importance to us were the practical tests with a number of fish varieties conducted by the team of experts from Frigoscandia Equipment here at our premises in Urk.

“The results were so promising that we continued the tests at Frigoscandia Equipment in Sweden. The outstanding results ultimately proved to be the decisive factor.”

The freezer technology incorporates impingement airflow technology, originally developed in 1995 by Frigoscandia for its flat product freezer, which was designed to meet the needs of the hamburger industry.

According to the manufacturer, the unit offered the speed and product quality of cryogenic systems at half the cost. It said the initial impingement technology has already been proven in more than 200 freezer and chiller modules worldwide. Applications include hamburger patties, fish fillets, and other flat products.

The much shorter freezing times, in turn, reduce the loss of fluid and improve the quality of frozen products, said the company. Also, the freezer takes up less space than a conventional freezer, thus reducing building costs.

“We were able to reduce the originally planned production area by 40%,” commented Romkes. “For us that means a saving of more than 200,000 guilders.”

Neerlandia operates the freezer with an LVS FrigoPak® ammonia refrigeration unit, also from Frigoscandia. LVS stands for low-volume system, reflecting the fact that the unit requires 50% of the ammonia quantity used in conventional units.

Publication date: 12/03/2001