To mark World Refrigeration Day, our Refrigeration & Energy Solutions Manager, @Lee Harpham shares the reasons why effective refrigeration technology is so important in everyday life.
The recent heatwave that swept across the UK has led to the usual mad dash for paddling pools and cool boxes as people across the country try and keep cool. With much of my career spent in the refrigeration industry, it’s fair to say keeping cool is something I know a lot about.
I’m no longer just talking about the need for a refreshing ice lolly on a sunny day, but a fundamental requirement for effective refrigeration and cooling technologies to ensure the quality and safety of the food we eat – on even the coldest of wintery days.
This year’s World Refrigeration Day theme of ‘cooling matters’ recognises the importance of cooling and refrigeration in everyday life, and to mark this, I’ve put together some simple, but often overlooked, reasons as to why cooling technology is so vital to food across the supply chain.
To protect food safety – Arguably the most important role refrigeration plays is that of keeping fresh produce stored at a safe temperature for consumption. From chilled meats and dairy to frozen ready meals, it is vital that the health and performance of refrigeration assets are monitored and managed to maintain optimum settings and to verify temperatures to protect the produce inside. This control is important across the entire supply chain to enable effective cooling and enhance food safety all the way from farm to fork.
To enhance food quality – Effective chilling can improve the quality of produce by minimizing moisture transport to maintain optimum flavour, colour, and texture. Inefficient cooling leads to a poorer quality of food and, although safe to eat, consumers will always opt for nicer looking and tastier alternatives to get the best value for their money.
To extend product shelf life – The cost, time and resource associated across the supply chain and its operations – from farming to production and transport – are exponential. When produce finally hits the shelves of a supermarket, it is imperative it has the best possible shelf life to maximise availability for consumers while protecting and increasing profit margins for supply chain organisations. Although various factors contribute to the shelf life of a product, temperate during storage and transport is core to the integrity and longevity of food. For example, if a fridge is running just one degree off, it can reduce a products shelf life by up to two days.
To mitigate stock loss – Effective cooling that achieves food safety, quality and an extended shelf life has a positive knock-on effect of a significant reduction in stock loss. Food that is unsafe to eat, has had its quality diminished or its shelf life is too short would inevitably end up in a food waste statistic. It is estimated that by increasing the shelf-life of a product by one day alone could result in avoidable waste being reduced by 5%. In addition, managing performance and health of refrigeration assets allows for real-time identification and interference of machine faults and failures, which not only protects temperatures, but also mitigates machine breakdowns that lead to catastrophic stock loss.
To achieve sustainability – It is clear how critical cooling is in the production and sales of safe and quality produce, and its complex nature across multiple organisations and large, disparate refrigeration estates should not be underestimated. However, with refrigeration accounting for anywhere between 40-50% of a supermarket’s overall energy consumption, efficient and effective cooling can help retailers and supply chain organisations drive more sustainable practices, reduce their energy consumption and ultimately do better for the environment.
One way for organisations to ensure that their cooling technology is running as close to 100% efficiency as possible is by using IMS Evolve’s IoT technology to extract data from their existing refrigeration infrastructure.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms use this data to monitor everything from energy use to inefficiencies in asset behaviour. Automated adjustments and alignments can be enacted by the software to ensure continuously optimised refrigeration systems, without the requirement for human intervention.
It is by reducing the breakdown and inefficiency of assets, and ensuring that food is stored in optimum conditions, that product safety, quality and shelf life is vastly improved. By leveraging this technology, IMS Evolve has been proven to reduce food waste by nearly 80% for one global retailer.
So, cooling really does matter, but effective cooling matters so much more.