SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2014 > Commercial Refrigeration

Push lids
Photo: SCHOTT Graphic Source: Vectorstock/Designagentur Wagner

Cool Place

Push lids and freezer doors from SCHOTT keep frozen food fresher and help reduce costs by saving energy in commercial freezers.

Thomas H. Loewe

Whole turkeys, fresh meats or frozen pizza – none of these things would be available in local supermarkets without modern refrigeration. To keep food on display at optimal temperatures, food retailers often use so-called freezer islands, large horizontal cases that offer easy access for the customer. In the past, open horizontal refrigeration solutions have been commonplace around the world. This has always made the task of maintaining the mandatory uninterrupted cold chain more challenging – especially in warmer countries such as Brazil. As energy costs soar and hygiene and food quality become more and more important, many food retailers are now turning toward closed freezer islands or looking to retrofit their existing freezers with glass covers. For this, SCHOTT developed high-quality glass doors and push lids and is also partnering with a Brazilian refrigerator manufacturer to further develop customized solutions for the South American continent.
Push lids
”In a traditional Brazilian supermarket, refrigeration accounts for half of the energy costs,” explains Luiz Renato de Oliveira Chueire, Director General of Eletrofrio Refrigeração, a market-leading company that builds commercial refrigeration systems in south Brazil. ”In fact, for supermarkets, energy costs are the second largest item right after workforce wages,” Chueire continues. Adding to this, energy costs in Brazil have gone up by around 20 percent in 2014 and Chueire expects a further 20 percent rise in 2015. Therefore, any possible way to reduce costs and energy consumption is obviously very welcome, and Brazilian supermarket chains are currently investing heavily because of this.

An easy way to make refrigeration more efficient is by retrofitting open refrigeration systems with doors or lids. Another way is by manufacturing the cabinets to offer permanent glass coverage from the start. ”Permanent glass coverage has an energy savings potential of up to 50 percent compared to open refrigeration islands,” says Chueire. SCHOTT Flat Glass was the first company in Brazil to produce highly reliable glass lids and doors to accommodate both approaches. Because the cold air is kept inside the freezer, ice formation inside it is also reduced, thus decreasing the need for defrosting from typically twice in 24 hours to twice a week. Less defrosting means constant, low temperatures and thus lower energy consumption. But besides energy savings, the installation of a covering also offers advantages in relation to food quality because the glass lids protect frozen food from harmful infrared rays.
Furthermore, less defrosting and less heat stress on the food also reduces the formation of frost on – and dehydration of – frozen goods. Lastly, the glass covers also improve overall hygiene, as dirt and grime are kept away from the food.
To accommodate the rising demand in Brazil and throughout South America, SCHOTT has greatly expanded its local production. Customers like Eletrofrio appreciate this: ”We believe that SCHOTT offers the best glass door systems with the lowest energy emission rates for our refrigerators. The glass solution we are using is superior to other products we find on the Brazilian market,” Chueire says. His company is also looking forward to an ongoing cooperation on developing new and customized cover solutions: ”Today, 90 % of the freezers in supermarkets are still open. In the future, all types of display cases will need to be closed. We are already working with SCHOTT in the area of push lids and turning doors and additional solutions will follow soon,” Chueire concludes.