Hello, is your refrigeration system running…as efficiently as it should be?

Posted in: Food & Beverage


Refrigeration systemWhen discussing a refrigeration system, how many times have you heard the phrase, “it’s always run like that”? For central refrigeration systems, this is an all too common remark. But this simple phrase can end up costing a facility a lot of money.

Food plant engineers and refrigeration operators are often tasked with operating systems with little understanding of the original intent of the design. After decades of operation, it’s common to see systems that have deviated from the original design intent for reasons that are now unclear.

An effective refrigeration engineer can audit a system and evaluate potential cost savings opportunities. Due to the large capacities of many of these systems, payback on the initial corrective investment can be quick.

The most important aspect of a successful refrigeration system analysis is verifying operational intent. This must be clearly identified and understood. Only then can a solution be tailored to match those needs.

The design thought process goes something like this:

  • Identify the operational intent of the production system (product capacities, temperatures, timing, etc.)
  • Identify the “bottlenecks” of the process that will drive refrigeration system design
  • Evaluate the current operation of the refrigeration system to identify gaps for improvement
  • Evaluate payback on each opportunity for quantifying savings and costs
  • Document the operational intent and train plant stakeholders to provide long term benefits

During this evaluation and design process, experienced refrigeration engineers can find related opportunities to save facilities money. Just because a process has been around for a long time doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be. From safety-based issues to unknown “spare” capacities generated from system changes, there are synergistic opportunities for cost savings waiting to be discovered in many centralized refrigeration systems. Our goal is to help clients discover them.


Andrew Darst

About the Author

Andrew Darst is a senior project engineer with Mead & Hunt’s Food & Beverage sector in the Fenton, MO office. He specializes in the analysis and design of ammonia refrigeration and mechanical utility systems. Andrew enjoys investigating existing systems to identify improvement opportunities and resolving issues to allow plant operators to run more effectively. In his free time, Andrew enjoys traveling and golfing wherever he can get the chance.

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