CHICAGO - Refrigerant management and oil flow were two themes emphasized at the most recent Food Marketing Institute Expo. They were joined by new fan technology and increased emphasis on energy efficient and durable cold room doors in refrigeration-related displays on the McCormick Place exhibit space.

Refrigerants And Oils

New technology from Zero Zone( keeps a virtual eye on refrigerants. Sensors are placed at various points on a refrigeration system, said Steve Essingler, vice president of operations, and they perform such functions as sensing for over-capacity, tracking the refrigerant as it moves between the condenser and receiver, and measuring how much is in various parts of the system.

"This provides early detection of refrigerant leaks to reduce repair costs," Essingler said. The monitoring is documented either graphically or numerically, providing detailed records for service technicians, storeowners, and - if necessary - an Environmental Protection Agency inspector. "This is a form of on-site recordkeeping," he said.

Ebm-papst fans with electronic commutation are designed to control the speed of the motor automatically.
The company also showed the Maximizer oil system. According to the company, it was "designed to maintain constant oil levels while continuously filtering the oil." It is designed for compressors piped in parallel on multiplexed supermarket (as well as industrial) applications.

The Maximizer uses a small hermetic pump to remove excess oil from the compressor crankcase. The pump operates continuously. The oil is removed via a specially designed oil float. "The new oil float makes it impossible for the system to remove oil lower than three-eighths of a sight glass," the company said.

In addition to basic filtration, any large oil slugs that return through the suction piping are collected in the secondary heater, which is specifically designed to trap oil for removal.

Component Considerations

Ebm-papst( showed fans with electronic commutation (EC) that is designed to allow for the control of the speed of the motor. The speed of an EC motor is governed by electronic switching. This means, said the company, "that the ability to control speed is automatic. It also means that an EC motor runs at near full capacity whether at startup, full speed, or any speed in between."

Fan motor control technology from GE ECM by Regal-Beloit ( came with the introduction of the ECM programming module. It was described as a device used for field programming the GE ECM 58-mm brushless DC motor in commercial refrigeration applications. The unit is said to enable contractors to alter the speed of the motor at the site in order to deliver the precise airflow required by the case.

Chicago Cub great Ernie Banks greets some visitors at the booth of ConAgra Products at the FMI Expo.
The case's airflow requirement is determined by the manufacturer's specifications; a complete database of specs is located on the GE/RBC Web site. If it is determined in the field that the airflow of the case requires adjustment, the precise speed can be dialed in with the aid of the module. The programmer plugs directly into the ECM housing. It is then connected to a Windows laptop computer. A technician follows the prompts in the software menu to adjust the factory-preset speed of the motor to the correct rpm.

Trends in condensing technology were shown by Howe (, with its model 1000-6000 RHS condensing units created to match the company's Rapid Freeze flake ice machines. Units have separate high- and low-pressure control switches. Electrical controls include the compressor contactor, ice flaker interconnect wiring, and isolated relay.

Plug-in coolers are usually found as end caps near checkout lines for impulse buying. In recent years, AHT Cooling Systems USA ( has promoted full-scale horizontal freezers and coolers with all mechanicals inside that can be positioned anywhere in a store as long as an electrical source is nearby. The first wave of products carried trade names of cities in the company's home country of Austria. The expansion of the product line is indicated now by such product names as the Berlin, the Malta, and the Paris.

Genesis International ( showed the Wizard, a single walk-in cooler control system for one or two zones. The Wizard Single (WICD) and Wizard Dual (WICD2) were designed to incorporate most of the control functions necessary to monitor and control the evaporators of a walk-in cooler and freezer in a supermarket, convenience store, or restaurant in a "compact, simple to install package," the company said.

According Genesis, "A single Wizard walk-in control system can replace the following items for one or two complete walk-in units: temperature monitor and alarm, temperature control, door opening alarm, refrigerant gas leak monitor and alarm, defrost controller, and data logger."

The Zero-Zone oil management system uses sensors to track refrigerant as it moves through the system.

Behind The Door

A number of door manufacturers showcased the latest in technology designed to help in energy efficiency and be as durable as possible.Custom Quality Products Inc.( demonstrated the variety of double-acting traffic doors including blast cell doors, strip curtains, dock screens, dock seals, industrial curtains, and café doors.

The P-11 double-action door was new from Eliason ( The company said the door "was developed for value-minded customers and is the ideal door for retail stores and demanding medium-traffic applications." The product has durability and increased strength as the result of "a thicker skin, resilient core, heavy-duty back channel, and full-perimeter internal frame."

Chase Doors ( had an exhibit that ran the gamut from doors for cold storage areas to what it called café and saloon doors that "provide visual separation and aesthetic appeal."

Refricentro S.A. (, a company from Chile, displayed its Model 205 door, made of polycarbonate for high-traffic areas in supermarkets, sales areas, and back rooms. The company's Model 209 door has corrosion-proof sanitary construction with a polyurethane core; and its Model 303 refrigeration door has a galvanized steel frame, plated with prepainted steel and with polyurethane injection in the core.

Storage humidification was one issue addressed by Miatech ( The equipment is said to add humidity of 90 percent rh or higher, depending on the need.

According to the company, "Unpackaged produce has reduced weight loss by more than 50 percent over produce that is stored in typical environments without added humidity."

Moving About

Getting perishable food from the source to the store involves both transportation and storage. Both were covered at the FMI expo.

Atlas ( from Toronto said it "designs and manages turnkey packaging programs throughout North America to ensure effective and efficient consumer product packaging and distribution."

The company offers temperature-controlled and dry warehousing, plus distribution and transportation management centers throughout North America.

Publication date: 09/05/2005