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Service and Maintenance
Proper service and maintenance of a cold storage facility is necessary to ensure safe and economic operation of the facility and proper storage of the handled goods. Some of the more routine daily servicing can be performed by the staff operating the cold store. More specific service and maintenance tasks on the refrigeration system and electrical components will require specialized tools and knowledge and is best to be left to skilled and authorized professionals. This will also ensure compliance with local health and safety regulations. In the old days it was quite normal to have skilled refrigeration personnel within the cold store staff, but in the course of the last decades the tendency has shifted to outsourcing this to subcontractors. When doing this, one has to take into account possible differences in the objectives of the owner (having a cold store running at maximum efficiency) and the subcontractor (achieving this in the cheapest way). When it comes to identifying and implementing energy savings these objectives can be conflicting: A good example is the adjustment of condensing pressure controls. By setting the pressure high, the system will always be operating under summer conditions. This will ensure that the refrigeration system will never experience instabilities due to too low condensing pressure on a cold winter day. This may be good for the subcontractor, who will not receive any complaints from the customer, but it is not good for the customers energy bill. Incorrect or insufficient service and maintenance will over time lead to increased power consumption and environmental pollution and even degradation of stored products, when proper cooling of the storage room cannot be maintained. Regular and planned service and maintenance will ensure that the cold storage facility can: Maintain safe conditions for the operating staff and the environment. Maintain the required conditions in the storage room. Avoid unnecessary heat loads and ensure maximum capacity of the storage room. Keep the various components and controls properly adjusted and thereby Ensure efficient and continuous operation of compressors, pumps, fans etc., which will prevent unplanned outages and breakdowns. Products stored in a cold storage room often have very specific temperature requirements that must be guaranteed during the storage period, otherwise product quality cannot be guaranteed. In some cases this can result in operation of the room at lower than necessary temperature (especially in frozen stores), which will unnecessarily increase the energy consumption and the negative environmental impact of the cold store.

Proper service and maintenance of a cold storage facility is necessary to ensure safe and economic operation

Service and maintenance of the cold store building

The cold store building is exposed to the ambient environment and many parts of the building structure will wear in some degree, depending on weather conditions and the quality of the construction and the materials.


The building will typically operate under large temperature differences, which causes relative motion between building components due to thermal contraction and expansion. sensors installed below the floor. In the case of hydronic floor heating, the liquid should be frost protected for a temperature lower than the cold store temperature, as it can otherwise freeze, if the flow is stopped for a longer period (which cannot be thawed again!!!). The floor surface temperature should be kept as low as possible or it will increase the heat load to the room. If ice and frost is building up on the floor, making the operation of the room unsafe, the source of this should be identified and the problem taken care of, instead of raising the floor temperature.

The insulation of the walls, roof and floor must be kept in good condition in order to avoid excessive heat gains. There can be different causes for deterioration of the insulation: Moisture permeating the insulation Improper insulation repair after repair works on related components like roofs, walls or doors. Improper insulation after installation of new components like doors, technical installations, etc. The insulation quality can be checked quite easily by thermographic analysis with an infrared camera.

The roof of the building must keep rain and snow out of the building and, as in any other building, it should be checked for tightness of the vapor retarder.

The doors are a boundary between the inside room conditions with the ambient or adjacent room conditions. Open doors will normally lead to infiltration of warm and moist air. The entry of moist air adds to the heat load on the evaporators and therefore infiltration must be kept to a minimum. The operation of the doors should be easy and smooth running in order to avoid doors being left open too often. Doors must be tightly sealed and defects to the sealing must be repaired in order to avoid continuous infiltration of moist air through the cracks. If there is heavy traffic through the doors, the risk of damage from the passing forklifts is high. Protectors can be installed to avoid damage to the doors from forklift traffic. Automatic door mechanisms should be checked for proper response and opening and closing times. When manual doors are used, it may be necessary to remind the personnel to close the doors in order to avoid infiltration of humid air. Different types of door protection can be applied to manual doors in order to minimize infiltration. Please refer to the Info Pack Cold store door protection and infiltration for more information.

Vapor retarder
Insulation damaged due to cracks in vapor retarder and ice build up The vapor retarder system is of key importance for avoiding moist air entering the building and especially moisture permeating the insulation. The vapor retarder must seal tightly the outside surface of the insulation. The vapor retarder must also withstand the movement of the construction. The intactness of the complete vapor retarder should be checked on a regular basis and should be specifically checked if any repair involving the vapor retarder is performed. The areas around the connection between wall and roof, as well as between wall and floor are typical areas where the vapor retarder can show discontinuities. One way of checking the vapor retarder is by checking for frost build-up on walls and ceilings. If excessive build-up of frost or icicles (frozen stores) or condensed water (chilled stores) is observed, it may be a sign of cracks and leaks in the vapor retarder. Be aware that some degree of frost build-up will normally occur in areas where moisture can enter through doors or around evaporators from defrost cycles.

Auxiliary equipment
Any electrical equipment operating inside the cold store, such as forklift trucks, belt systems, fans, lights, etc. are heat sources that will raise the load on the refrigeration system. Therefore reduction of their input power consumption will have a twofold impact on overall energy consumption, i.e. both the direct power consumption and the energy consumption of the refrigeration plant removing the heat will be reduced. Attention should therefore always be paid on possible

The floor of the storage room must not be cracked or broken, as this will enable water or other liquids to enter and further deteriorate the construction. In frozen stores, the floor heating system must function properly in order to avoid frost heaving of the soil below the floor construction. The proper functioning and control of the floor heating system is normally based on control signals from temperature


reductions, e.g. in lighting, fan speeds, etc. All electrical equipment has to be checked for correct operation to avoid unnecessary heat loads or safety hazards.

Layout and interior design

A free air flow along the ceiling is mandatory in order to ensure an even temperature distribution in the cold store. In the case of respiring products (fruits and vegetables) or products not at storage temperature it is also necessary to provide good airflow around the products. Many of the installed coolers/evaporators have long throw supply streams, covering a large area of the cold store. This has to be taken into account when loading the room up to near the ceiling. Further, free air intake into the cooler/evaporator has to be ensured. The location of the coolers/evaporators can have a negative impact on the operation of the refrigeration system: Air from one cooler can be sucked into an adjacent one Defrosting of one cooler can spoil the temperature signal controlling another cooler or the refrigeration system.

Load-based preventive maintenance: The amount of service depends in some way on the actual loading of the components. Condition-based predictive maintenance: Condition monitoring, with continuous or discreet surveillance of the operating condition of the machinery, through for example measurement of temperatures, pressures, vibrations, oil analysis, etc. Reactive maintenance is the crudest method and is not recommended. However, it is still used, especially in very small cold stores. The major problem is that the actual condition of the equipment is never known and breakdowns tend to occur at the worst possible time, as this is when the system operates under the highest loads. The most appropriate maintenance strategy for each component depends on the type of the component and its importance. So while reactive maintenance can be the best option for less critical components, preventive or predictive maintenance may be suitable for more critical components. Safety valves are often inspected at fixed time intervals. Traditionally rotating machines like pumps and compressors have also been serviced at regular time intervals. Nowadays the trend shifts to load-based maintenance and condition-based maintenance, which allow to avoid unnecessary service work, while increasing equipment reliability and avoiding unplanned service and repair. Non-destructive testing methods, such as vibration, ultrasound or thermographic analysis can be applied to gain better knowledge on the current condition of the equipment, without disrupting its operation. Thermographic inspections with infrared cameras in particular provide a good opportunity to gain insight into the condition of a wide range of components in a refrigeration system. The main drawback is the high cost that is often associated with these inspections. Thermographic inspections can help to detect faults, in the early stages of their development, on many electrical components (especially connections, cables and switchgear), bearings and transmission mechanisms, fans, pumps and compressors. They can also be used to detect fluid leaks,

Examples for thermografic inspection of components Source: InfraTec GmbH

Service and maintenance of the refrigeration plant

Even if service and maintenance are outsourced, it is strongly advisable to have knowledge on the working principle of refrigeration systems in general and on the installed system in particular, in order to be able to have a qualified and critical discussion with the subcontractor. Different maintenance strategies for the refrigeration equipment can be applied: Reactive maintenance: Run until some component breaks down. Time-based preventive maintenance: Fixed service intervals, depending on running hours and/or fixed time intervals.


line blockages and insulation problems on fluid distribution lines, as well as flow restrictions in heat exchangers. It should be noted however that thermographic inspections must be performed by well trained professionals or they may guide an unexperienced personnel to misleading conclusions. In addition, equipment must be inspected when operating under high loads. The preferred maintenance strategy will in the end be a choice of the cold store owner/operator. increase of the temperature difference between evaporator and condenser by 1 C will lead to increase in power consumption by 3-4%, so running the refrigeration plant at too low evaporating temperatures or too high condensing temperatures will have a very high impact on the direct running cost. Other issues that need regular checking are vibration levels and shaft seal leakages (open type compressors and pumps). Non routine maintenance tasks such as repairs and major overhaul are normally done by external service and contracting companies.

Refrigerants & brines

The right refrigerant quantity and quality must be maintained during the service life of the equipment. Some refrigerant may be lost during operation when leaks are not taken care of instantly. The air and water content in the refrigerant must be kept below certain limits. For this purpose several products are available such as filter driers and air-purgers. Oil carry over from the oil separator into the piping system and equipment must be drained on a regular basis if it is not returned automatically. Brines are often mixtures and in the case of glycols, the concentration of glycol must be checked to avoid the risk of freezing.

Three major technologies for heat rejection are widely used in refrigeration systems: Evaporative condensers These are based on heat rejection by evaporation of water and the point of the operation (condensing temperature) should be compared to the wet bulb temperature and not the dry bulb temperature. Evaporative condensers can exhibit problems with scaling, fouling and corrosion, if the water treatment of the make-up water is not done properly. The condition of the make-up water must be checked regularly to avoid issues with the condensers. The condenser may need regular cleaning depending on its type and the ambient conditions. Especially the air intake has to be cleaned, but also the drain (bleed off) has to be working well in order to maintain the water quality. Circulation pumps, fans and fan speed controls have to be checked on a regular basis. Cooling towers + liquid-cooled condensers Cooling towers have to be treated similarly to evaporative condensers even though the risk of scaling is somewhat lower due to lower surface temperatures. In open type water loops, water quality is also critical, as the liquid (water) cooled condenser can get fouled, resulting in lower heat transfer coefficients and therefore higher condensing temperatures. Compared to evaporative

Machine room
Some maintenance tasks can be performed by the operators. This can typically include checking oil and refrigerant levels, checking for leaks or abnormal running conditions, etc. The operator can also record and compare valuable operational data, such as suction and discharge pressures and temperatures, oil pressures, temperatures and levels. Direct monitoring and registration of some of this data is for a larger system normally done by a control system often mounted on the compressors. It is recommendable to install a data logging system, making it possible to analyze historical trends in the measured data. Such data is valuable in case of breakdowns, but also for optimizing the operation of the system, indicating possible savings. This can provide a solid foundation for making decisions on new investments. The running conditions of the refrigeration system are normally given by the room temperatures. Any abnormal change in these conditions often indicates issues with the refrigeration system. Often this also results in poor operation of the compressors etc. As a rule of thumb one can consider that an


condensers, the liquid loop between the tower and the condenser exhibits a higher temperature difference and higher energy consumption, due to the bigger/extra circulation pump. Both have to be checked in order to minimize the condensing pressure. Dry coolers They reject the condensation heat directly to the dry air stream. Here distribution of the refrigerant and air flow is the main concern. Leaves and dirt can be sucked into the normally quite narrow gaps between the fins of the condenser inlet and have to be removed. As the fins are very thin they are very vulnerable and easy to bend and flatten. controls, including safety equipment The various sensors and controls need regular calibration. Comparison between sensors measuring nearly the same process value (e.g. suction pressure on two compressors in parallel operation) can give an indication of the current status. Signals from the room temperature sensors in particular have a direct impact on the running costs as well as the correct operation of the room. The inspection of safety equipment is typically regulated locally.

Examples of dry cooler sprayed with water of bad quality Source: Hans Gnter GmbH

Electrical cables and connections

Check and tighten cables and connections, safety systems, starter contacts, etc. Temperature is a good indication if electrical components are at risk of failure. As mentioned earlier, thermographic analysis of electrical panels (switchgear cabinets) can be an effective tool for detecting deteriorating components.

The defrost schedule of evaporators operating at sub-zero temperatures should be checked to avoid unnecessary defrosts. On the other hand, if defrosts are not done sufficiently often, the cooling capacity of the evaporator will be reduced. Other evaporators will have to meet the load and this will in time cause problems in maintaining the desired room temperature, while also increasing energy usage. The proper operation of the fans must be maintained in order to provide the necessary cooling capacity.

Piping insulation must be maintained in good condition. Insufficient insulation can not only lead to direct heat load on the plant, but may also give rise to other problems, such as local condensation in pipes that should contain gas (e.g. hot gas defrost lines). Moisture permeated in the insulation can cause corrosion. Especially hot gas defrost lines are at risk of having quite high temperature fluctuations, but efficient vapor retarder is obviously needed for cold piping as well. On piping operating below 0C, moisture in the insulation will cause ice formation, which will progressively ruin the insulation in larger and larger areas. Pipe vibrations and unstable supports can cause failure due to fatigue.

Evaporator at manually forced defrost Iced up. Iced up due to wrong timing of automatic defrost

The refrigeration system typically contains many different types of valves for various purposes, such as shutting off parts of the system, controlling temperature and pressure, service and safety. Safety valves are often subjected to regular checks based on local legislation. The correct functioning of control valves is of key importance for the operation of the plant with respect to capacity, temperature control and energy consumption. Valves that need to open and close depending on some input signal have to open correctly, but also have to close and seal tight to avoid internal leakage and possible unnecessary heat loads. In pump circulated and secondary systems, evaporators/coolers are often connected in parallel using manual adjusted valves for balancing the flow, which has to be equal for all evaporators/coolers. The adjustment of these valves should be checked occasionally. Pressure and temperature sensors and other

Log book
It is highly recommended to log essential data for the cold store and refrigeration system on a regular basis. This can be done by hand, but it is much better to be done by an automatic logging system. As a minimum the values in the following tables should be recorded (R) / inspected (I) or performed (P):


Cold store Room temperature Insulation and vapor retarder Doors and door protection Light and light control Daily R Weekly Monthly Every 6th month I I I

Refrigeration system Compressor Suction pressure and temperature Discharge pressure and temperature Oil level, temperature and pressure Amount of topping up compressor oil Refrigerant level Amount of topping up refrigerant Ambient temperature Calculate Difference between room and saturated suction temperature (suction pressure) Difference between ambient temperature (wet or dry depending on type of condenser) and saturated condensing temperature (condensing pressure) Evaporative condenser / cooling tower / dry coolers Consumption of make-up water for cooling tower Consumption of water treatment chemicals Water quality and bleed off Fans, belts and wings Water spray system Corrosion and scaling Controls and variable speed drive Air intake cleaning Evaporators / coolers Fans / wings Defrost and defrost control Fins (deformation) Defrost System Insulation Oil drain Filters Valves, internal / external leaks Adjustment and settings of control and safety systems Piping, check for leaks and corrosion Pumps, static and differential pressure Daily R R R R R (when done) R Weekly Monthly

R (when done)


R R (when done) I I I I I I


I P I (pressuredrop) P (cleaning) I th 6 month th 6 month

The work associated with this information pack has been carried out in accordance with the highest academic standards and reasonable endeavours have been made to achieve the degree of reliability and accuracy appropriate to work of this kind. However, the ICE-E project does not have control over the use to which the results of this work may be put by the Company and the Company will therefore be deemed to have satisfied itself in every respect as to the suitability and fitness of the work for any par ticular purpose or application. In no circumstances will the ICE-E project, its servants or agents accept liability however caused arising from any error or inaccuracy in any operation, advice or report arising from this work, nor from any resulting damage, loss, expenses or claim. ICE-E 2012

For more information, please contact: Lars Reinholdt (