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Happy World Refrigeration Day! As the industry celebrates the exciting advancements in next generation cooling, we take a look at where we think the future of cooling is heading – and trust us, it's like something out of a sci-fi blockbuster!

This year’s World Refrigeration Day is all about Next Gen Cooling, with a focus on the theme of the future of cooling technology. In a world of AI chatbots and increasingly automated supply chains, it can sometimes feel like we’re living in a sci-fi movie. Whilst we’re not quite at the stage where the robots will be taking over, there are some incredibly cool innovations in the world of cooling that could be straight out the latest futuristic blockbuster. On World Refrigeration Day, let’s look at what the (near) future of the industry might look like:

The Minority Report

While parts of Speilberg’s famous movie are still the stuff of fiction (future police officers zooming around in jetpacks, for example), there is plenty in the film that is already coming true, such as bespoke adverts that seem to follow us around… In the cooling industry, though, the ability to predict machine failures before they happen is, in fact, a reality. By leveraging IoT technology to monitor the health, performance, and temperatures of machines – in this case, refrigeration – anomalies and temperature spikes can be flagged in real-time. The software can even automatically generate a formal request for maintenance, directly alerting engineers to the at-risk asset, enabling them to address potential issues before failure occurs, stock is lost, or customer experience impacted. Pretty cool, right?

I, Robot

Are the robots going to take over? In these days of ChatGPT, who knows! In an era where the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has raised concerns about job security across various industries, the field of refrigeration stands as a testament to the indispensability of skilled engineers whose expertise and experience are irreplaceable when it comes to maintaining, repairing, and optimising refrigeration systems. While it's true that technology has revolutionised many aspects of the refrigeration industry, we must recognise that engineers will always be needed. However, there is currently a significant engineer shortage in the refrigeration industry, particularly in the commercial sector. The industry is actively promoting the engineering sector, with institutions like The Institute of Refrigeration encouraging youth through educational tools like their ‘Fantastic Fridges’ program. Instead of being deterred by the rise of AI, we should be embracing its potential and inspiring the next generation to enter this field. By actively recruiting and nurturing aspiring engineers, we can ensure that they leverage the insights provided by AI and other technologies to enhance, not replace, manual tasks. This combination promises to propel the refrigeration industry forward while preserving the inimitable human intervention.

Star Wars

Of course, there are plenty of ‘cool’ locations in Star Wars, from the ice planet of Hoth to that snowy planet in The Rise of Skywalker (the less said about the sequels, the better…). But if there’s one unconventional lesson everyone should learn from the original trilogy of films, it’s that putting all of your eggs in one big tech basket isn’t a good strategy.

In the refrigeration industry, leveraging multiple different strategies is of paramount importance when aiming to drive operational reductions and optimisations. Rather than relying on a single approach, it is crucial to adopt a diverse range of strategies. Temperature control, energy consumption, equipment maintenance, and environmental impact are just a few factors that need to be addressed. By adopting a multifaceted approach, businesses can maximise efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, by working with a solution provider that can offer multiple strategies, businesses gain the advantage of a comprehensive solution that considers various operational needs and not only answers today's immediate challenges, but also provides flexibility and growth opportunities in the future.

So, there you have it – whilst World Refrigeration Day hasn’t been made into a sci-fi epic (yet), it’s clear that the industry has a very ‘cool’ future ahead of it, and it could be on the brink of a transformative era where sci-fi dreams become reality.