Sustainability - the focus at Euroshop
The Euroshop trade fair is the commercial refrigeration sector’s shop window for products and innovation. The show was held last week in Dusseldorf and presented a rich selection of products from across the world. Even though trade stand bookings were down by 25% compared to the last show, most of the larger manufacturers (with a few notable exceptions) were present.
Although there were a few exciting innovations, the overall focus for most manufacturers seemed to be sustainability. It was clear that many manufacturers had spent the last few years focusing on energy labels and reducing the energy used by their cabinets. Many displayed their labels, with the very occasional ‘A’ label, but most by far were in the ‘C’ to ‘E’ range. Far more doored cabinets were on display than in previous shows which indicates that there is now a continual move by end users to fit doors. Almost all integral cabinets were operating on R290. For remote cabinets, those sold in Europe were almost universally for R744, whereas those sold outside Europe were still using significantly higher GWP refrigerants.
Within the cabinet sector there were limited new concepts. Cabinets were slimmer/deeper, had enhanced doors, had sleeker mouldings or had been ‘tweaked’ to improve visibility or appearance. The exception was the short air curtain cabinet from Lucabo which is now being built in the UK. The open fronted cabinet was presented as a ‘B’ energy label which was exceptional compared to other open fronted cabinets at the show.
Elsewhere were there any exciting innovations and developments? There was a definite trend for cold click-and-collect boxes which are now produced by all the major (and some niche) manufacturers. These can be placed in a supermarket or even outside in local collection points. New testing methods are being proposed to cover the performance of these types of cabinet which will mean that performance can be assessed and compared in the future. There was also a trend for a new type of vending cabinet based on using contactless payment. Most of these were aimed at snacks in the office environment, but some were also focusing on meals, and some even had the ability to cook the meals ready for consumption. Many of these systems applied RFID tags, but cameras and machine recognition were also used by at least one manufacturer.
On the equipment side there were some new innovations such as the Copeland R744 scroll compressor and the R744 pressure recovery transfer system being championed by Epta for R744. The focus of most component and equipment manufacturers was R744, which cements the continual move by most retailers to natural refrigerants. A few manufacturers presented water loop systems with R290 integral cabinets as an alternative to R744. To date water loop systems have not been able to be energy labelled as they are excluded from eco-design regulations. There is, however, now a new addition to the new version of the EN23953 test standard which will enable such cabinets to be labelled in the future.
Overall the focus was very much on sustainability and reducing energy. This is hardly surprising as manufacturers have had to deal with mandatory energy labelling since March 2021, so this no doubt has been their priority. It was clear that there were very few ‘A’ rated cabinets and not many in the ‘B’ or ‘C’ classes. This indicates that there are opportunities to further enhance performance through low energy components or optimisation of air flow. Some manufacturers were also beginning to look at the overall life of a cabinet and being able to replace parts and to be able to better recycle components at end of life. This seems to be an inevitable trend that is also being driven by eco-design and energy labelling. Currently there is a requirement in eco-design for suppliers to provide spare parts and for certain components to be recyclable. Even though the usage phase (as opposed to manufacture and end of life) generates by far the greatest carbon emissions, there are still issues with access to materials and the impact of recycling at the end of life. As we move to a society with lower grid carbon emission factors the relative impact on manufacture and end of life will become even greater and so is a real issue for the future.
If you are interested in any of the above issues then please contact Judith Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org) at RD&T.