The global retail sector has grown during the last few years, and the U.S. is leading the pack. Specifically, the demand for ready-to-eat products has increased, bringing with it additional demand for commercial refrigeration. This demand for refrigeration can be seen in places such as supermarket display cases, industrial ice making machines, walk-in coolers, reach-in coolers, and chillers.
Sawyer’s Food Supply is a fast-growing food supplier in the Bahamas that supplies its own supermarkets as well as other local markets on the island. In 2017, Sawyer’s Food Supply began construction on a new refrigerated warehouse that was 20 times the size of its previous building. With a much larger area to refrigerate, the power demand would skyrocket. Combine this with the overall higher electricity costs associated with being located on an island and Sawyer’s Food Supply owner, Sandy Sawyer, knew that reducing energy consumption would be a key part of ensuring a return on the company’s investment.
In December of 2017, FriconUSA was commissioned by Sawyer’s to retrofit the entire refrigeration system. FriconUSA, based in Flowery Branch, Georgia, is a manufacturer that specializes in creating equipment for food retail, commercial, and industrial refrigeration sectors. The company recently received UL certification and has entered the U.S. market. Established for more than 25 years in Venezuela as FRITECH, FriconUSA was launched in 2000 outside of Atlanta and specializes in air-cooled chillers, condensing units, and industrial ice makers.
For this project, FriconUSA approached NOARK with a design challenge: create a flexible product, control costs, reduce energy consumption, and deploy it all quickly. As an additional challenge to this project, the isolation clearance and raceways used for wiring and maintenance would require designing a modification to raise the mounting plate in order to comply with NEC code. In order to reach all these goals, FriconUSA and Sawyer’s Food Supply would need to consider every component in this project and their impact on the ROI.
In late 2016, FriconUSA established a partnership with low-voltage component manufacturer NOARK Electric. NOARK specializes in the U.S. industrial automation market with UL-certified components and an industry focus on the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment markets. Through this partnership, FriconUSA has incorporated many NOARK molded case circuit breakers and motor control components, such as contactors, relays, and starters, into their designs. Working closely together, the FriconUSA engineering team and NOARK local and overseas support teams selected components that would meet the project challenges.
“NOARK and FriconUSA work well together,” said Fernando Escuela, president and founder, FriconUSA. “They have a solid, high-performance product line. They also have local support to assist our operation, including application and technical support.”
After reviewing the project’s needs, the NOARK Ex9M Series UL 489 molded case circuit breakers and the Ex9C contactors were determined to be the ideal fit. B1N miniature circuit breakers were used in the power circuit control design, while NOARK Ex9C contactors were utilized in the system’s motor control and protection scheme. A safe, UL508-compliant motor control circuit protection scheme was created, which met all standards and each of the end-user’s requirements, including a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption. In addition, FriconUSA and NOARK teams were able to develop a modification to ensure that all NEC codes were met.
With the new modular refrigeration system by FriconUSA, the project is underway and in operation as of mid-2018. Further expansion is planned to follow as management anticipates opening 10 more Sawyer’s Fresh Market supermarkets at the rate of two per year.
FriconUSA’s solution for the refrigerated warehouses and new supermarkets include an expanded scope to integrate a photovoltaic solar plant and a clean energy system to generate the electricity to further increase Sawyer’s overall energy savings. By working closely with its key partners to leverage their support, FriconUSA was able to meet the challenge and deliver a solution on budget and on schedule.
As for NOARK Electric and FriconUSA, they plan many more projects for collaboration in the future.
“In this evolving HVACR market, NOARK offers high-tech products that can fit into our sometimes challenging custom applications,” said Maritza Barrios, marketing coordinator and sales associate, FriconUSA. “We always appreciate the attention to detail and the resources brought to support us for technical problems that might arise.”
Ed Joe, marketing director for NOARK Electric North America, agrees.
“Every customer assumes you have a reliable, quality product offering — that’s the baseline,” he said. “It’s the extra effort that it takes to come through during a customer’s time of need that counts most. Our greatest asset is our local, knowledgeable field team and the support they can provide.”