Refrigeration manufacturer Adande has launched a £500,000 R&D facility in Lowestoft to accelerate the development and commercialisation of its Aircell technology.
The test rooms are part of a £4.2m investment to help Adande and its consortium partners take Aircell to new levels and meet retailers’ specific merchandising requirements in the UK and abroad.
Aircell is a unique and patented air flow management system, which has been designed for the improved performance and reduced energy consumption of refrigerated displays used for grocery retailing.
The investment is being funded by a £2.1m Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) grant and an AMSCI loan of £380,000, together with private equity investment.
The development of Aircell is expected to contribute to the growth of the company’s current turnover, of in excess of £5m, to between £20m and £30m by 2018.
The investment programme has also led to the recruitment of nine new employees in technical, engineering, management, sales and administrative roles.
Additional employment opportunities will be generated at Adande, its consortium partners, other cabinet manufacturers and sub-contractors, leading to 97 additional jobs in the next eight years, the company said.
The new facility includes three environmental chambers for testing to BS EN ISO 23953, which is the accepted industry standard for the testing of refrigerated display cases. They also provide the resources to meet and exceed future test standards.
The energy efficient facility incorporates the latest design features, including a single control system to regulate humidity, temperature and fan speed within the chambers, backed by sophisticated data acquisition and monitoring systems.
In addition, Adande has also established a dedicated facility, housing CAD resources and a computational fluid dynamics’ suite, for the numerical analysis of complex issues, relating to fluid flows and simulation scenarios such as turbulent flows.
Adande’s managing director, Ian Wood, said: “We have made a significant investment in the design and development of Aircell, with recent laboratory tests and in-store trials bringing the technology within the realms of commercial viability. We are now well placed to work with refrigeration equipment manufacturers and grocery retailers to deliver solutions, which meet the specific needs for sustainable refrigeration, tangible energy savings and an improved shopping experience.”
Aircell works by dividing the refrigerated display case’s merchandising envelope into separate air flow managed cells with small, low pressure air columns. Each cell has its own air curtain, which is more efficient than a full case height air curtain on a conventional multi deck case.
The net result is less pressure on the air curtain of each cell and a substantial reduction in cold air spillage from the case. Crucially, Aircell does not require back panel flow to support the air curtain, so it does not over cool and freeze food at the rear of the cabinet. Adande claims that the tests it has carried out against the cabinets of various manufacturers demonstrate energy savings of between 25% and 50%.