ELMHURST, Ill. — On a late fall day, supermarkets were making headlines here in the Chicago area. The owner of one of the area chains was at odds with its unionized employees. The workers were threatening to strike. The owner was threatening to shut down the chain’s entire 100-plus stores if they did so.

Meanwhile, in a meeting room in a suburban Chicago hotel, some 55 technicians were involved in another significant endeavor: gaining a better understanding of supermarkets’ mechanical refrigeration systems.

This particular session was presented by representatives of Sporlan Valve Company and was one of 10 day-long programs given during the 2002 calendar year. It was a full day of technical talk, with questions taken along the way and with time afterwards for informal, one-on-one questions and answers.

Attendance at the seminars is held to 50 or 60 persons to allow for more interaction. The original plan for seven seminars in 2002 was increased when demand warranted it.

The audience in the Chicago area included independent refrigeration contractors and technicians, service techs who work for store chains, technicians from processing plants that supply products to the food service industry, wholesalers trying to get up to speed on new products for supermarket mechanical systems, and representatives from rack manufacturers.

This was advanced refrigeration technology talk.

“Our sales engineers in the field requested these seminars because the supermarket refrigeration technicians they work with asked for more advanced training,” said Pat Bundy, supermarket application engineer at Sporlan’s headquarters in Washington, Mo., and one of three presenters during the all-day seminar in Elmhurst. (He was joined by Steve Esslinger, application engineer, and Douglas Gildehaus, product manager.)

Bundy noted that the seminar covered such topics as “oil management designs, heat reclaim, head pressure control, contaminant control, and valve applications.”

Presenters challenged the audience of technicians with such questions as:

  • Does a high-efficiency oil separator reduce the oil charge?

  • How much oil is in circulation?

  • How much refrigerant is in circulation in a typical rack system?

    The session included dealing with R-22 and mineral oil problems, scroll compressors, reciprocals with mechanical floats, solenoid valves, and other topics.

    “Always remember,” Esslinger said, “solenoid valves must be sized on capacity, not line size. Size them for refrigerant; for applications such as liquid, suction, or discharge; and for electrical specifications.”

    Time was set aside to look at a variety of expansion valves, including some of the newest products being introduced to the market. There was also a look at some of the more sophisticated controls technology that allows mechanical systems to be run from laptop computers.

    Things then got down and dirty with talk about how to deal with contaminants, acid, foreign matter, sludge, and wax. The solution was presented in the proper use of the right filter-drier.

    Positive feedback on the 2002 advanced refrigeration seminars is causing Sporlan to look at an expanded number of such sessions during 2003.

    For more information, visit www.sporlan.com.

    Publication date: 01/27/2003