Pro Green Technologies, Inc., a Northern Ohio-based leader in commercial refrigeration, marked the inaugural "World Refrigeration Day" on June 26 with an open house tour, to provide local visitors with a look at Pro Green’s efforts to provide alternative refrigeration methods in food retail environments.
Joseph Kokinda, President/CEO, PRO HVACR (PRO) and Pro Green, hosted the event at the company's facility in Avon Lake, Ohio. Kokinda is one of the most proactive refrigeration contractors in refrigeration today, and a leading proponent of energy efficiency programs and alternative refrigerants. His passion for energy efficiency is clearly evident.
World Refrigeration Day was designed to bring awareness of the benefits that refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps have made to improve our standard of living. Refrigeration and cooling are critical for health care, food production and preservation and many other areas.
When planning for the Open House for World Refrigeration Day, Mike Challender, Director of Sustainable Solutions for Pro Green, reached out to Julie Chase-Morefield, President/CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank North Central Ohio to obtain her thoughts regarding refrigeration. Julie explained Second Harvest constructed a new facility four years ago to increase the capacity of the bank's medium and low temperature food storage seven times.
“Nearly 50 percent of Second Harvest’s distribution is product which requires storage in freezer or cooler units. Produce currently makes up almost 34 percent of the food we distribute on a whole and has allowed us to significantly change the nutritional make-up of the food distributed to families at-risk for hunger," Chase-Morefield said. "With so many health benefits correlated with eating a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, we are fortunate to be able to work with local farmers and growers to put this nutritious food in the hands of families who might not otherwise be able to access it.”
Visitors to the Open House included elected officials, economic development officials, bankers, local business owners, people associated with the HVAC industry, and accounts reps from Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
Eddie Hawkins, Account Executive, Office of Workforce Development, ODJFS, examined the working Pure Cold, self-contained refrigerated display cases on display and talked about programs available for workforce training, to provide career paths for future employees in the HVACR industry. Pure Cold, founded in 2005, maintains offices in Chicago and the United Kingdom. It is a leading innovator of remote and integral refrigerated display cases.
With an expected shortage of experienced HVACR workers, Andy Culberson, Geisel Heating & Cooling, said these types of programs are important in training the future workforce.
“PRO is excited to introduce these high efficiency display cases to the small grocery/convenience stores in the US market," Kokinda said. During a tour of the lab, Kokinda explained the improved energy efficiency provided by the Pure Cold display cases, described his teams retrofit services, and explained how his team hopes to eventually replace old fixtures in customer locations with the Pure Cold units.
"Several Whole Foods stores have put these into action. Other major chains are interested, because of the lower cost of these ‘smart’ cases," Kokinda said.
Kokinda explained how his team has developed effective energy efficient upgrades to the Pure Cold cases: "We baseline each plug-and-play unit with six sensors and one transducer. They will monitor sub-cooling, superheat, temperature difference through the coil and head pressure. They will send out alarms to smart phones anywhere in the world. We will then be able to fix them remotely, provided no hands-on mechanical repairs are needed."
The Pure Cold cases require no floor drains or external piping, and no equipment on a store rooftop. Water is evaporated by fans and by a serpentine heater from the discharge line.
“We dovetail this with heat harvesting, and augmenting the store’s HVAC envelope with more air conditioning by using a water-cooled solution for larger projects.
Kokinda said the software that will make the cases totally 'smart' is currently in development with a third-party expert. “They know what we want, and they’re putting the algorithms together. These controllers will be adaptable to those algorithms. They have floating head pressure capabilities, and we are collecting data on the amount of electricity these cases use, with product and empty while in the test lab. Customers can then be presented with the data they need to make a viable business decision to change the units out, or not," he said.
Kokinda said improved technology that can be monitored, diagnosed and tweaked from afar will help to fill the "skills gap," an industry-wide symptom of reduced numbers of technicians in the industry.
"To be able to log in, determine and isolate the problem and contact store managers to pull product in one case, not all the fixtures that may be tied into a larger distributed type legacy systems we see all over the USA. Being predictive in nature due to baselines established, these fixtures will be proactive by sending alarms out to a Service Entity. The mobility of these fixtures also allows market owners to be able to use the center sore for Grab-and-Go displays or spot sells,” he added.
Kokinda and Challender have already started planning for the 2020 "World Refrigeration Day," as another occasion to promote the benefits refrigeration provides society, and to help increase donations collected for Second Harvest Food Bank.
CLICK HERE to see a local newspaper report on the open house.