To renew or optimize my installation? If you are the owner of a refrigeration system, you have probably been thinking for a while about what to do: renew it or optimize it? Adding the uncertainty, we are currently facing, not only in our industry but globally, the decision can be a real headache. When I talk to my clients, I encounter this doubt practically every day for quite some time. We are talking about systems with high technical components, acquisition costs, and maintenance costs, many of which have not yet been amortized.
On the other hand, technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, offering much more efficient and sustainable alternatives. However, it also makes it very difficult to keep up with all the available options and determine which one best suits the needs of each specific case.
New Construction and Renovation Ratio As mentioned, the cost of a refrigeration system is crucial, and property owners carefully consider these investments before implementing them. On the other hand, they naturally try to extend the life of these installations as much as possible through proper preventive maintenance, reducing stress, and abusive use of the components.
In a recent market study conducted by the marketing department of AKO Group, the ratio of new construction and renovation of refrigeration systems in Spain is as follows:
- Hypermarkets: 0.61%
- Supermarkets: 1.89%
- Convenience Stores: 3.26%
Main Reasons These ratios average only 2.8% for the renovation and new construction of refrigeration systems in the Food Retail sector in Spain, a clearly low ratio. This is mainly due to the following factors:
- High investment costs
- Extended payback periods
- Disruption of commercial activity during renovation (opportunity cost)
- High technical complexity, resulting in fewer available qualified professionals
- Uncertainty about different options and the most suitable technology for each case
- Many existing installations have not yet been amortized
The Importance of Proper Maintenance Carrying out adequate maintenance in refrigeration systems is essential to prolong their lifespan, make them more efficient, and sustainable. This is where installation monitoring and the work of refrigeration professionals make a difference. The main effects of inefficient maintenance are:
- Energy Efficiency: Poorly maintained refrigeration systems consume more energy to maintain the required temperature conditions, leading to higher operating costs and increased energy resource consumption.
- Reduction of Product Losses: Fluctuations in temperature caused by inefficient operation can affect the quality and safety of products stored in refrigeration systems.
- Longer Lifespan of the Installation: The investment in refrigeration systems is significant. Regular maintenance can help prevent premature wear of equipment, meaning they will last longer before needing replacement.
- Environmental Sustainability: Inefficient refrigeration contributes to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Proper maintenance reduces energy consumption and, therefore, decreases the facility’s carbon footprint.
- Safety: Poor maintenance can result in safety issues, such as refrigerant gas leaks, which, besides being costly, can be dangerous for employees and the environment. Moreover, legal violations with substantial fines may occur.
Inefficiencies in Refrigeration Systems Refrigeration systems, as a whole, regularly suffer from various inefficiencies, which can be grouped into criteria of energy efficiency, product care, total cost of ownership, and improper practices:
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
On the other hand, there are very important savings potentials related to:
Initiatives for Optimization
Optimizing the operation of a refrigeration system has a direct impact on the financial results, management operations, and customer satisfaction. Generally, optimizing refrigeration systems provides a very attractive return on investment, with paybacks ranging from 9 to 15 months.
Through connected solutions that efficiently monitor and control refrigerated assets, significant savings can be achieved in the operation and maintenance of these installations, especially with initiatives focused on:
- Reducing refrigerant gas leaks through monitoring and early leak detection (below 0.3g/h), resulting in a reduction of potential environmental impact.
- Reducing electrical consumption in services through adaptive temperature controls and the effect of reducing the aforementioned gas leaks.
- Minimizing product losses and waste through effective temperature and humidity control, along with proper maintenance of the gas load in the system.
- Automating processes to free up man-hours in tasks of little or no value, providing useful information for decision-making and enabling preventive maintenance.
The following graph illustrates the typical potential savings achieved with our efficient solutions in various types of establishments: