Specifier Review
Supermarket Refrigeration

The importance of thorough maintenance in Supermarket Refrigeration

Food consumption patterns have changed dramatically and refrigeration systems are heavily relied upon for many industries and businesses worldwide. One key area in which refrigeration is absolutely essential is in supermarkets, which supply chilled and frozen produce to the ever-growing population. The top 7 supermarkets in the UK provide the nation with over 7000 supermarkets and with often more than fifty fridges and freezers in a large store, facilities management companies and engineers have their work cut out to keep multiple systems running across multiple sites.

It is easy to take these systems for granted, however demand on these units is high and failure does happen, causing a negative impact on supermarkets and their customers. A large unit may contain hundreds, if not thousands of pounds worth of stock which if a unit fails, can quickly become damaged or unsafe for consumption and have to be disposed of. For any store, regardless of size, this is a huge problem and with the huge recent growth in convenience stores adding to demand, the challenge is set to continue.

These failures could ultimately result in a bad reputation for the facilities management company or engineer responsible for maintenance. Facilities Managers may have secured a lucrative maintenance contract to cover regular maintenance and will have an approved refrigeration partner who will carry out the contract. However, if a lot of calls are required, due to lack of maintenance or incorrect pump specification, the chosen refrigeration engineer may soon be doing uncontracted hours and therefore making less profit.

Prevention is better than cure

Keeping customers happy is without doubt one of the most important things for an engineer or facilities company. The breakdown of any refrigeration system comes with significant risk – loss of stock for the customers and impact on customer profit margins. Even if the contractor meets the expected 24/48 hour response time, often the reality is that the repair itself can take much longer if the faulty part is not in the back of the van. Together, these things can negatively affect the contractors’ relationships with their customers and therefore their reputation. The good news is that this can be avoided.

The key to success and achieving continuous ongoing operation of refrigeration systems lies with the correct pump specification and thorough and regular maintenance of the whole system. Pumps such as Aspen Pumps’ ERRP or Cold Cabinet refrigeration pumps are designed to remove large amounts of condensate from refrigeration units with large tank capacities and high flow rates and are perfect for commercial use.

Once installed, these pumps can be relied upon to work hard in the background to keep the system running optimally. However, the challenge doesn’t end there. The build-up of slime is inevitable in any refrigeration system and the greater the volume of condensate removed, the greater the build-up can be. Keeping slime at bay across the whole system is essential to keep drainage clear and pumps in top condition.

Traditional methods of cleaning with high powered water jets are only effective for so long and whilst quick – do not give a deep clean. Thankfully, there are products available in the form of specially engineered cleaning chemicals, which are fast and simple to use and can mean less regular maintenance is required.

Dan Shotter, Managing Director of J S Refrigeration Services explains, “The go-to cleaning method is usually water jetting which is fast and easy, but there’s no getting around the fact that it doesn’t last as long. Using the correct cleaning chemicals for the job such as Jally Strips from Advanced Engineering which disperse slime and provide 12 month protection, does take a few more minutes in the short term, but the time saved in fewer maintenance calls just makes sense and gives me peace of mind that when I finish a job, my customer is getting the best service from me.”

A great reputation is essential to any business and if a customer becomes dissatisfied with frequent break downs, this could have damaging effects on the chances of renewed contracts or call outs. For contractors, when it comes to refrigeration maintenance, a small amount of time spent upfront can pay dividends overall, by futureproofing systems against avoidable breakdowns, ensuring customers receive a better service. Also, with food waste now a huge global issue, maintenance companies and independents who seek to minimise unit failure with regular and thorough pump and system maintenance are contributing to the bigger environmental picture. This long term view is something which customers will welcome, setting environmentally conscious maintenance engineers apart from the competition.


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