North America

Monitoring, Measuring and Improving Refrigeration Performance

While the analysis of operational data to improve the performance and maintenance of HVAC&R systems is all the rage, VaCom Technologies, a La Verne, California (U.S.)-based energy consulting and refrigeration controls firm, has been offering software to help industrial operators optimize their HVAC&R systems for many years.

VaCom introduced its cloud-based EnergyDashboard system in 2003 “to improve performance and reliability as well as measure savings resulting from energy-efficiency measures,” said Doug Scott, president of VaCom. It assesses temperature, pressure, flows, power usage and other system data, and measures efficiency of components in kW/TR.

Approximately 50 companies now use EnergyDashboard in various forms, mostly for built-up industrial refrigeration systems in food and beverage plants and refrigerated warehouses. Other applications include commercial refrigeration racks, HVAC, process chillers and heat pumps.

In one case study posted on VaCom’s website (, a multinational food and agricul- tural products company, which operates a 50,000+ft2 (4,645+m2) protein-storage warehouse in California, noticed gradually rising utility costs, both in energy consumption and demand. The largest user of energy at the facility was the refrigeration system, which had been declining in performance and efficiency over time, partly due to the company’s inability to retain onsite refrigeration or energy-engineering personnel.

VaCom’s Performance Monitoring Service Team accessed the facility’s refrigeration control system via a secure connection to the EnergyDashboard tool. System performance data was continuously measured and analyzed, and multiple energy-saving and performance improvements opportunities were identified, including equipment failures, behavioral changes, and setpoint changes. Each opportunity was analyzed financially and ranked according to its payback and criticality to operations.

“The key learning over 17 years of using EnergyDashboard is that the technical data collec- tion and analytics platform must be balanced with skilled engineering attention and person-to-person communications,” said Scott. “Equipment failures can be avoided by early identification or providing the means to ‘deep dive’ as part of root-cause analysis. Automatic notification of improper setpoint changes may be sufficient for correction, or discussion may be required. We often provide cost impacts (how much money is being lost) to provide justification for immediate maintenance action and expense.

”The upshot of the warehouse’s use of EnergyDashboard was a 39% reduction In total facility daily energy usage, and an annual savings of 800,000KWh, equating to $120,000, and 182 metric tons of CO2e emissions, according to Vacom. The facility is dedicated to maintaining the savings through a continuous program involving all stakeholders.

This article originally appeared in the March issue of Accelerate Magazine.