Designing efficient refrigeration systems

Doug Sandridge, PE, Principal at RTM Engineering Consultants, answers the questions about RTM’s refrigeration design services: What types of facilities is RTM working on? What are the main challenges and considerations for different projects?

By RTM Associates March 5, 2020

As consulting engineers, we design mechanical and electrical systems for diverse facilities. Refrigeration is a specific type of mechanical system that covers a wide sector of applications, including small storage coolers and freezers in grocery stores, large walk-in coolers and freezers in distribution warehouses, and central refrigeration systems in food or beverage manufacturing facilities.

Because most commercial buildings – like office buildings, schools, and libraries – don’t require refrigeration systems, many engineering firms don’t offer refrigeration design as a specialty. But RTM’s team has experience working on refrigeration design projects, ranging from food processing facilities and cold storage distribution to craft breweries and distilleries. Our engineers take an active leadership role in refrigeration projects, particularly in industrial applications where buildings contain many systems and functions. RTM works with architects and other trades to ensure equipment is laid out and installed to maximize the system’s efficiency.

Design challenges and considerations vary depending on the industry or type of project. For a relatively straightforward project, such as integrating new equipment for a grocery store dairy case, engineers must be meticulous in coordinating with other trades. While planning the refrigeration system, we evaluate factors like the layout of the store and the location of the utilities, so we know where every piece will go, and no equipment has to be moved later during construction.

For larger central refrigeration systems in industrial applications, it is essential to determine the owners’ product load to be able to size a refrigeration system accurately. Engineers need to know exactly how much food or other materials the client is bringing into the facility, and what temperature they need to adjust to or maintain.

This article originally appeared on RTM Associates’ website. RTM Associates is a CFE Media content partner. 

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