Refrigeration manufacturers are having to measure all of their cabinets for energy efficiency in advance of the EU’s Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) coming into force on 1 July 2016.
However, this requires a significant investment in a testing regime to determine what energy rating from A to G applies to each machine.
One company preparing for the new regulations is Husky Commercial, which operates from a UK head office in Lutterworth, while owning a manufacturing facility in Guangzhou, China.
Serge Kremer, owner and CEO at Husky explained: “At Husky we are the manufacturer, which means we have complete control over the design, engineering, quality and reliability of our products. We test all of our products during the manufacturing process to ensure we comply with the current regulations and we’re able to categorise them within the new simplified EU energy efficiency labelling.
“We always thoroughly measure how much electricity each of our products uses in kilowatt hours (kWh). In all possible circumstances we ensure our products use as little energy as possible while still performing to a high standard and still serving their purpose.”
Husky is aiming to have as many of its products as possible labelled within the highest energy efficiency category and is in the process of training its team to be able to advise dealers and end users about the new regulations.
Kremer added: “Energy efficiency is always at the forefront of our designs. For example, LED lighting is standard in all of our products, our doors are self-closing double glazed glass, we use maximum levels of high-performance pressure foam insulation and our fans are of the low energy type.
“In addition, since 2011 we have been using only the natural hydrocarbon refrigerant gases R600 and R290 in our bottle coolers. This means they use a lot less energy and have much lower Global Warming Potential. We also work closely with suppliers to produce packaging from renewable energy sources.” [[page-break]]
Furthermore, Husky was one of the first refrigeration companies to comply voluntarily within the UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations for the collection, treatment, recycling and safe disposal of old refrigerators.
“We have put a lot of effort in developing intelligent refrigerators that use less energy when the cooling requirements drop (e.g. at night). In the past few years our mind-set has evolved to mean that energy efficiency forms the basis of the entire design of our refrigeration products,” said Kremer.
Over at fellow manufacturer, Gram, it is involved in an ongoing improvement programme to provide products that lead the way in innovation and design. “Therefore, the target of meeting and exceeding the new requirements, although challenging, has been a relatively smooth one,” reported Gram UK’s MD, Glenn Roberts.
“We have accelerated some development programmes that required us to invest heavily in re-tooling the factory to create new cabinet shapes and introduce new technologies across the range. This has enabled us to conduct a complete overhaul of our product portfolio resulting in our Generation 5 range. This includes our Plus, Midi, Twin and Eco models.
“Utilising and marketing the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants has also helped us to continue to drive down energy consumption. This has been part of a long-term strategy that has required detailed planning, innovative research and development, which has not been an insignificant investment.
In fact, Gram was the first refrigerator manufacturer in Europe to utilise hydrocarbon refrigerants across its whole product range as standard, in 2002.
Gram’s latest model, the Superior Plus 72, is claimed to be a forerunner in a new generation of energy efficient refrigeration. The manufacturer believes it is 44% more energy efficient than its ‘best in class’ Plus 600 (Generation 4) predecessor.
Roberts said: “The energy uses, and therefore running costs, have decreased massively from 509kW/year to 285kW/year. Based on a rate of 10 pence/kWh, the average operator can expect to spend only £28.50 per year on running costs for this model.” [[page-break]]
The firm has both collaborated extensively with the Danish Technological Institute and conducted its own research and development utilising its onsite laboratory and test rooms to ensure product sustainability.
Elsewhere, Hoshizaki’s research and development team has been working on eco-friendly solutions for years and the manufacturer believes it is at the forefront of the design and manufacture of a new generation of environmentally responsible fridges, freezers and ice makers.
It recently introduced its Eco Standard range of fridges and freezers to the UK market in line with the regulations and to support Hoshizaki’s vision: its ‘Cool and Clean World’ campaign.
“Hoshizaki Europe has some of the most highly automated production facilities in the industry. Using the latest state-of-the-art technology, every Hoshizaki machine is run-tested at the factory and undergoes numerous quality performance tests that include energy efficiency,” the company stated.
Hoshizaki pursues efforts to preserve the environment with measurements such as the ‘Eco Plan’, a long-running programme intended to counter global warming and deal with other environmental problems. This combines efforts in product development, recycling, recovery of environmentally-impacting CFCs and various other environmental measures.
At Adande, it is investing in new state of the art test rooms and test equipment in preparation for the EU Eco Design and energy labelling regulation coming into force. Chairman Nigel Bell commented: “This will ensure all our cabinets will be tested to the highest level following the EN16825 test standard for refrigerated storage cabinets and counters.
“We are informing all our partners about the upcoming regulations and updating our technical documentation. We will also update our website and launch a new product catalogue with both novel products and updated information on all our existing products.”
Adande believes its insulated container with ‘hold the cold’ technology is inherently energy efficient as the cold denser air stays in with the food. “Even with frequent drawer openings in a high temperature ambient kitchen the Adande drawer system keeps food at a stable temperature, increasing its shelf life and saving energy. [[page-break]]
"The benefits of the Adande technology have been demonstrated in both like-for-like restaurant trials and third party tests carried out by independent laboratories,” said Bell.
The firm is always testing a whole range of energy efficient components and looking at the overall cabinet performance to ensure it has an optimised system. Additionally it is investigating cutting-edge technology to see how best it can integrate this into its cabinets.
According to Bell: “In the initial development stages we employ simulation tools to predict the system performance and to determine the best design configurations, reducing the experimental testing period.”
Lec Commercial has been actively involved alongside other manufacturers and CESA in collective regulatory talks with EU representatives in Brussels. Head of UK sales and marketing Jon Usher said: “Closer to home, we’ve created a task force responsible for reviewing, managing and communicating the changing legislation, in doing so ensuring appropriate members of our team, from the sales personnel through to the regulatory department, are kept informed.
“This has been important given the length of time the process has taken and the fact the intended implementation date has changed several times.
“With the standards for the testing only having recently been finalised, our dedicated team are working through the process of testing all of our appliances affected under the confined testing methodology.”
The firm also makes use of the efficient R600a refrigerant in many of its existing models in both the EssenChill and Platinum ranges. “This inclusion has a massive positive impact on performance with outstanding cooling capability, while also resulting in significantly lower running costs to the site, over the lifespan of the unit,” commented Usher.
“Having known the changes to legislation have been on the cards for a number of years, we’ve continued this push for even greater efficiency, introducing new features and manufacturing techniques along the way where appropriate, to ensure we continue to comply with the most current legislation.” [[page-break]]
Over at Foster, market and development director Chris Playford noted that while the original deadline for the regulations has slipped, “it is far better to have a robust system to which the entire industry complies, so we avoid customer confusion and ensure trust in energy usage testing, and so that fair comparisons are made”.
The company has invested over £4m in its manufacturing processes as part of the Foster EcoPro G2 launch, which made the facility fully compliant with all current refrigerants and low GWP foaming systems. “Therefore, we have only had to make minor amends to ensure we are also fully compliant with the new regulations,” detailed Playford.
“The implementation of the energy efficiency standards will take some time to stabilise and buyers would be well advised to take a long term view.
"These new regulations will drive innovation and product improvement in energy consumption, but buyers should consider this scheme as just one of a range of criteria in their buying decision – the most important being that their choice meets their operational needs.”
He also advised that a big part of energy efficiency is the lifecycle cost of the equipment, with factors including the long term performance needs of the user, ensuring that the manufacturer has after sales support readily available and using low impact refrigerants and foam blowing agents.
Norfolk-based Precision Refrigeration has undertaken extensive testing of its products in order to review their energy consumption. “We have also made significant changes to the type of technology used in our components, to improve energy efficiency,” said MD Nick Williams.
“We have redesigned our products to improve thermal breaks, and increased the foam thickness where required. Precision has very close partnerships with component manufacturers so that we can get the latest energy-saving developments on test, in real-life conditions, usually before they are offered to the general market.
“This allows us to be one-step ahead of the competition, as we understand the new technology and have meaningful reliability data for it, long before we bring the finished refrigerated cabinet to market.” [[page-break]]
Precision tests its cabinets at its in-house facility as well as sending them to an external testing house for independent verification. Furthermore, its components are trialled at selected kitchens across the country to monitor their reliability under real conditions.
The firm recently launched the MCU211 counter, which has been independently verified as A* rated for energy efficiency. It is also about to launch upright refrigerator and freezer cabinets.
“They have been tested in our own test house and initial results are showing that the cabinets will ascertain at least an A* rating. This will be independently verified in the next few weeks,” reported Williams.
Another recent claimed entry to the energy efficient refrigerator market is Electrolux Professional’s Prostore range. “The new fridges consume 55% less energy than standard cabinets, which lowers running costs in kitchens and dramatically reduces environmental impact,” said Sneha Mashru, the company’s category manager for refrigeration.
“Our Prostore 800 and 500 ranges are supplied with R290 refrigerant, resulting in lower running costs and a reduced impact on the environment. This hydrocarbon refrigerant is also far more energy efficient than comparable gases and reduces energy consumption by approximately 12%.
“The high capacity of the Prostore range also aids environmental efficiency, as instead of having to buy two cabinets, in some instances kitchens may only require one. This enables them to save on energy costs, carbon emissions, and also kitchen footprint.”