STORE SPACES

Regular Cleaning of Condenser Coils in Refrigeration and Freezer Appliances Results in Maximum Efficiency

BY CSA STAFF

By Richard P. Fennelly, director of product development, Coilpod

It’s a well-known industry fact that refrigeration and freezer appliances, which are no longer exclusive to supermarkets, are major electricity “hogs” in retail stores.

Unfortunately, many store owners/operators are not following an important maintenance task that is uniformly recommended by the manufacturers of these appliances: monthly or bimonthly cleaning of the condenser coil unit that is contained in the appliances. It is a topic that needs to be front and center for any organization interested in maximum efficiency for these appliances.

The need for such a cleaning protocol largely goes unrecognized because the visually non-appealing condenser coil unit lies hidden behind a panel or grille blocking view of its deteriorating condition over time.

The problem festers until a service technician discovers it on an expensive unscheduled service call when the unit begins to malfunction. With the projected market in refrigerated display cases alone slated to grow from about $8.8 billion dollars in 2012 to about $16.3 billion dollars in 2019, this issue is likely to grow exponentially, especially for plug-in units which might account for almost 68% of this growth.


Since the condenser coils are responsible for dumping the warm air extracted from the enclosed cooling chamber into the outside air, the build-up of dirt or debris on the coils will compromise their heat transfer ability and the cooling efficiency of the unit. And over time, such dirt and debris invariably does form on the coils unless a regular maintenance program is followed. The result: close to a 10% higher electricity bill for each refrigeration unit and close to a 20% higher bill for each freezer unit!

Additionally, the non-maintained units work harder, causing premature appliance aging due to longer run times, and have an increased chance of equipment failure because of higher pressures and operating temperatures. Finally, the store environment becomes less “green” as the coils collect dirt and other debris.

The benefits that come with a condenser coil unit cleaning program are reflected with 75% of those issues deemed most important by the attendees of the recent Star Refrigeration 2013 Roadshow, namely, energy savings/run efficiency (26%); operating cost (18%); reliability (14%); maintenance (14%); and performance (3%). (Click here for the survey.)


What is the best way for the maintenance program to be conducted? Since the plug-in appliances containing these condenser units are located inside the store, the traditional cleaning method has been to use either a combination of brushing and vacuum or, even better, a combination of brushing, vacuum, with a supply of compressed air to assist in the dislodging of dirt or debris that is lodged within the coil structure.

Using compressed air (e.g., from a standard wet/dry vac) is problematic since, unless contained, this air steam will pollute the store environment necessitation additional cleanup. The traditional way in which dislodged debris has been captured has been the use of a container, such as a box, lined with a damp cloth to capture and hold the airborne debris. Often, a two person team was needed for the cleaning operation – one to hold the box/cloth capture device, the other to blow compressed air and vacuum during the cleaning operation.

Most recently, however, more scientifically engineered dust containment bags have been developed that allow for a single person to effectively blow out debris from the coils while vacuuming the airborne debris into a vacuum appliance without polluting the surrounding environment. In many cases, it is not even necessary to have this rather non-technical cleaning task performed by a refrigeration service technician — it is definitely within the capability of the do-it-yourselfer.

Preventative maintenance programs are often the first ones to be eliminated when operating budgets are reduced. This is shortsighted since a well-structured preventative maintenance program for these refrigeration and freezer energy “hogs” can more than pay for itself in energy savings while prolonging the life of such equipment and reducing the cost of maintaining it over its lifetime. It is easy to save from $100-$200 per unit in electric costs as a result of a disciplined condenser coil cleaning program. For stores that contain a multiple of such units, the savings can be in the thousands of dollars. These cost savings go directly to the bottom line.

There has been much talk and press attention given to a whole host of energy efficiency steps that the retail industry can take (energy efficient lighting, better insulation, better protocols for heating and cooling schedules, etc.). These all constitute “low hanging” fruit, most of which by this time has been picked. So how might we continue to squeeze out more efficiencies? Certainly, the scant attention that appears to have been paid to a disciplined PM program for the condenser coils in plug-in cooling appliances needs to change.

Richard P. Fennelly is director of product development at Coilpod, manufacturer of the Coilpod dust containment bag for use in the condenser coil cleaning of commercial refrigeration and freezer appliances. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Abercrombie continues facing challenges in Q4

BY CSA STAFF

Abercrombie & Fitch’s fourth quarter was affected by the company’s closure of 24 Gilly Hicks stores in the fourth quarter, as well as other asset impairment charges and charges related to its profit improvement initiative.

Although the company’s net income decreased significantly in the quarter — 58% — it did not fall as much as Wall Street expected.

The company’s board also approved a $150 million accelerated share repurchase plan, to be executed during the first quarter.

For the quarter ended Feb. 1, Abercrombie’s income fell to $66.1 million from $157.2 in the year-ago period. For the full year, income declined 77% to $54.6 million from $237 million last year.

Net sales dropped 12% to $1.3 billion during the quarter. Same-store sales, including direct-to-consumer sales, fell 8%. By brand, same-store sales fell 6% for Abercrombie & Fitch, were down 8% for Abercrombie Kids and down10% for Hollister Co.

For the full fiscal year, sales declined 9% to $4.11 billion.

The retailer said it anticipates opening 16 full-price international stores throughout fiscal 2014, including an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store in Shanghai in April 2014 and a small number of namesake mall-based stores.

In addition, the company plans to open a small number of international and U.S. outlet-based stores during the fiscal year. The company also expects to close approximately 60 to 70 stores in the U.S. during the fiscal year through natural lease expirations.

“[Last year] was challenging, with sales and earnings falling well short of the objectives we set at the beginning of the year,” said CEO Mike Jeffries. “After three years of positive growth in our combined U.S. chain stores plus direct-to-consumer comparable sales metric, that metric turned negative in 2013 against the backdrop of a challenging retail environment, particularly in the teen space. It is important that we return to positive growth, particularly in our core U.S. business, and the steps we are taking as we execute against our long-range strategic plan should put us in a position to achieve this goal.”

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Discount Coupons acquires Daily Deal Builder

BY CSA STAFF

Discount Coupons has acquired Daily Deal Builder (DDB), a Daily Deal software and solutions provider.

DDB’s software platform allows anyone to set up, manage and host a feature-rich Daily Deal or coupon website. Currently, more than 150 companies in the U.S. and abroad utilize DDB as their Daily Deal software provider. DDB Founders Marc and Tyler Horne will remain with DDB and form part of the company’s growing staff.

"The acquisition of DDB is further validation that our team is committed to building a world class Daily Deal organization,” said CEO Pat Martin. “We could not be more pleased to have Marc and Tyler join the company. We expect to see DDB continue to grow as companies realize the opportunity of starting their own Daily Deal business. DDB’s software is ideal for anyone who wants a robust Daily Deal site without a large investment in custom software development. Additionally, DDB also brings the company expertise in Web technologies, further strengthening our identity as a progressive ad tech company."

"The opportunity to grow DDB and to be a part of Discount Coupons made our decision to join the company an easy one," says Tyler Horne. "We were inspired by the company’s plan to become a global Daily Deal leader through the acquisition of strong Daily Deal brands like DDB. My brother Marc and I are ardent supporters of the business opportunity that the Daily Deal industry can offer entrepreneurs, so we are proud to continue expanding DDB to suit the changing needs of the marketplace."

Discount Coupons Corp, an Internet marketing and technology company, operates in two segments, daily deal site management and full-service digital marketing agency services. The daily deal segment operates daily deal websites that sell discounted vouchers to consumers. Daily deal websites benefit both businesses and consumers. Businesses are provided a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) type marketing opportunity where they pay a set fee per voucher sold. Consumers purchase discounted vouchers, typically at 50% off retail pricing, which are then redeemed at either a website or a local business.

The daily deal segment intends on growing through the acquisition of established daily deal websites. The daily deal segment operates DiscountCoupons.com and other similar properties. DiscountCoupons.com has been in operation since 1997. The agency segment provides businesses with a full range of digital and traditional marketing services including, branding, interactive, advertising, business development, public relations, market research, analytics, photography and creative strategies. Managed interactive marketing channels include, social media, search engine optimization, website concepts and development, graphic design, email marketing, social media marketing and search engine marketing. Discount Coupons Corp is headquartered in Clearwater, Fla.

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