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RDM case controllers adopted by US food retailer

RDM, has made a significant advance in the US market following adoption of its refrigerated case controllers by food retailer Fresh & Easy.
RDM case controllers adopted by US food retailer
The US retail industry has traditionally relied on mechanical expansion valves to control cases, in contrast to European end users who have adopted electronic expansion valves linked to digital controllers.

Fresh & Easy is among a new wave of US entrants challenging traditional ways of doing things, and are moving towards the latest energy saving approaches and technology.

Speaking at the US Food Marketing Institute's Energy and Store Development Conference* Steve Hagen, Fresh & Easy's director of national procurement, said: 'We wanted a prototype store that was environmentally responsible and more efficient than anyone else. When we looked at Europe, where energy costs have shot way up, everybody is using case controllers and electronic expansion valves. It was impossible to find a chain not using them. I decided that was a reason for us to do it.'

The company runs 168 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. The 14,000 ft2 convenience-style supermarkets have a greater amount of refrigeration per unit area than most supermarkets.

Since opening its first store in 2007, the chain has employed RDM case controllers, supplied by US distributor and energy management software provider Verisae, linked to electronic expansion valves. The combination precisely regulates the flow of refrigerant and matches cooling output to load to improve performance and minimise energy use.

Mr Hagen says that the digital case controllers have had a significant impact on energy costs. As a result of these and other measures, Fresh & Easy stores now use about 30 per cent less energy than a typical supermarket.

The chain was concerned initially about the additional capital cost of installing case controllers. However, after calculating electrical, installation and start-up savings, it concludes that the initial investment in case controllers is less than for a conventional set-up with electrical and control system wiring routed from cases to plant rooms.

With RDM case controllers remote diagnostic capability is a key benefit, Mr Hagen added: 'With case controllers, you know how every case is performing, the more data we get, the more energy we save, because the more things we see wrong. When there's a problem, it's hard not to notice.'

*As reported in Supermarket News

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