Necessity is the mother of invention

Adande® Chairman, Nigel Bell, looks at the implications for refrigerated retail display equipment manufacturers and suppliers, of the European Commission’s draft regulations for mandatory energy labels on supermarket cabinets.

N-Bell-ST2Necessity is the mother of invention and today this adage is particularly apposite for manufacturers of refrigerated retail display equipment. In their quest for energy saving solutions, retailers have challenged the industry with developing new technologies. The situation has been compounded for manufacturers by the imminent introduction of the European Commission’s regulations for mandatory A to G energy labels on supermarket refrigerated display cabinets.

MANUFACTURERS TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR CERTIFYING ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Scheduled for introduction in January 2017, the regulations place a responsibility on manufacturers to test cabinets to the industry standard EN23953, the updated version of which will be published in 2016. Manufacturers, or suppliers if the cabinet is produced outside of the EU, will be required to confirm and declare that their products meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements, producing and maintaining technical documentation for each product they have tested. They will need to affix a CE marking sign on the product, on the packaging or on the documentation accompanying the product. It will be incumbent upon manufacturers to provide printed and electronic labels and data to dealers. Reference to the appropriate label class, for each specific model, will also be required in advertisements and promotional material. From January 2017, refrigerated display cabinets failing to meet the minimum energy efficiency standards will not be approved for use in European Community countries. More stringent minimum energy efficiency requirements will follow in 2019 and again in 2021.

In addition, the draft regulations state that all cabinets will need to be capable of meeting their relevant temperature class. Equipment that cannot meet its temperature class requirement will not be allocated an energy label and will not be allowed to be used within the European Community.

SELF-CERTIFICATION SUBJECT TO INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION

Whilst manufacturers and suppliers may self-certify refrigerated displays as meeting the energy efficiency regulations, such claims will be subject verification and testing by the relevant enforcement authority; in the UK it will be the National Measurement Office (NMO). Should a product fail initial and confirmation tests, the NMO prefers to seek a voluntary resolution with the supplier. However, the enforcement agency will usually make the manufacturer or supplier pay for the testing and can impose fines for false declarations. The NMO may also impose criminal sanctions and prohibit products from the market.

There is little doubt that many existing open front refrigerated cabinet designs will comply with the draft minimum energy efficiency requirements to be introduced in 2017. However, only the most efficient refrigerated cabinets are expected to meet the requirements to be laid down in 2021. Manufacturers will need to focus on re-engineering their existing designs and/or incorporating new technologies to improve energy efficiency and meet the 2021 regulations. How they do so remains to be seen.

EU-labelling-graphic

GLASS DOORS ARE NOT THE ENERGY SAVING PANACEA

It is becoming apparent that glass doors are not necessarily the solution, in all retail environments. The Carbon Trust Refrigeration Road Map, produced with the Institute of Refrigeration, even questions the value of glass doors in high traffic stores: “The levels of energy saving claimed vary considerably and must be related to the level of use of the cabinet. Cabinets with doors undergoing higher usage have been shown to save little energy when compared to an open-fronted cabinet…”

At Adande, we have developed the patented Aircell airflow management system, designed for open front, refrigerated multi deck cabinets, to deliver energy savings, temperature stability and improved customer comfort levels. Independent tests have confirmed that Aircell delivers energy savings of up to 30% compared with conventional displays. We currently have refrigerated cabinets, incorporating Aircell technology, on trial at a Tesco store, displaying sandwiches, snacks and soft drinks. The recent announcement that we will receive grant aid of £2.1 million and a loan of £380,000, as part of a £4.2 million project for the further development of Aircell, is testament to its potential.

Glass doors and Aircell are not the only options being trialled by equipment manufacturers and we can assume that there will be new technologies introduced in the future. The introduction of the EU regulations affords retailers the opportunity to engage with suppliers and new technology providers to develop solutions, which are of genuine benefit to retailers and their customers.

NO ALTERNATIVE TO COMPLIANCE

It is not clear whether glass doors, Aircell or other technologies will become the preferred option for manufacturers and retailers seeking the holy grail of reduced energy consumption and compliance with forthcoming EU regulations. One thing that is certain is that many equipment manufacturers will need to take significant action to ensure that their products meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements. The message is clear – there is no alternative to compliance.

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