The European Commission’s draft regulations for mandatory energy labels on supermarket cabinets are set to have an impact on the sale and supply of refrigerated retail display equipment. Adande chairman, Nigel Bell, considers the implications facing the industry.
Necessity is the mother of invention and today this old adage is particularly apposite for manufacturers and suppliers of refrigerated retail display equipment. In their quest for energy saving solutions, which cut their carbon footprints, retailers have challenged the industry with developing new technologies.
The situation has been further compounded for manufacturers by the imminent introduction of the European Commission’s regulations for mandatory A to G energy labels on supermarket refrigerated display cabinets. In the USA, the Department of Energy has enforced minimum efficiency requirements on supermarket display cabinets since 2012.
Manufacturers to be responsible for certifying energy efficiency
Scheduled for introduction in January 2017, the regulations place a responsibility on manufacturers to test cabinets to the industry standard EN23953, the updated version of which will be published in 2016.
Manufacturers, or suppliers if the cabinet is produced outside of the EU, will be required to confirm that their products meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements and make a declaration to that effect, producing and maintaining technical documentation for each product they have tested.
They will need to affix a CE marking sign “visibly, legibly and indelibly” on the product, on the packaging or on the documentation accompanying the product. It will be incumbent upon manufacturers to provide printed and electronic labels and data to dealers. Reference to the appropriate label class for each specific model will also be required in advertisements and promotional material. From January 2017, refrigerated display cabinets failing to meet the minimum energy efficiency standards will not be approved for use in European Community countries.
More stringent minimum energy efficiency requirements will follow in 2019 and again in 2021. In addition, the draft regulations state that all cabinets will need to be capable of meeting their relevant temperature class, for example M1, L1 or H. Equipment that cannot meet its temperature class requirement will not be able to be allocated an energy label and, as a result, will not be allowed to be used within the European Community.
Self-certification subject to independent verification
While manufacturers and suppliers may self-certify refrigerated displays as meeting the energy efficiency regulations, such claims will be subject to verification and testing by the relevant enforcement authority — in the UK it will be the National Measurement Office (NMO). Should a product fail initial and confirmation tests, the NMO prefers to seek a voluntary resolution with the supplier. However, the enforcement agency will usually make the manufacturer or supplier pay for the testing and can impose fines for false declarations.
The NMO may also impose criminal sanctions and prohibit products from the market. As enforcement authorities from EU nations work together closely, it is likely that a ban in one EU country would be enforced across the whole community.
There is little doubt that many existing open front multi-deck refrigerated cabinet designs will comply with the draft minimum energy efficiency requirements to be introduced in 2017. However, only the most efficient refrigerated cabinets on the market today are expected to meet and exceed the requirements to be laid down in 2021.
Manufacturers, both inside and outside of the EU, will need to focus on re-engineering their existing designs and/or incorporating new technologies to improve energy efficiency and meet the 2021 regulations. How they do so remains to be seen.
Glass doors are not the energy-saving panacea
While some equipment manufacturers have employed glass doors on open-front multi-deck refrigerated display cases as a means of making energy savings, it is becoming increasingly apparent that glass doors are not necessarily the perfect solution in all retail environments. Indeed, the Carbon Trust Refrigeration Road Map, produced with the Institute of Refrigeration, even questions the value of glass doors in high traffic stores: “The levels of energy saving claimed vary considerably and must be related to the level of use of the cabinet. Cabinets with doors undergoing higher usage have been shown to save little energy when compared to an open-fronted cabinet…”
At Adande, we have designed and developed the unique and patented Aircell airflow management system. Aircell is designed for open-front, refrigerated multi-deck cabinets to deliver energy savings, temperature stability and improved customer comfort levels. Independent tests have confirmed that Aircell delivers energy savings of up to 30% compared with conventional displays.
We currently have refrigerated cabinets, incorporating Aircell technology on trial at a Tesco store, where they are used for the display of sandwiches, snacks and soft drinks. The recent announcement that we will receive grant aid of £2.1m and a loan of £380,000 as part of a £4.2m project for the further development of Aircell is testament to its potential.
Glass doors and Aircell are not the only options being explored and trialled by equipment manufacturers and we can only assume that, in light of the forthcoming regulations, there will be other new technologies introduced in the months and years ahead.
No alternative to compliance
The imminent introduction of the EU regulations also affords retailers the opportunity to engage with suppliers and new technology providers to develop solutions that meet their engineering and merchandising requirements.
Such co-operation will ensure that manufacturers produce fit-for-purpose solutions, within a limited time frame, which are of genuine benefit to retailers and their customers.
At this stage, it is not clear whether glass doors, Aircell or other technologies will become the preferred option for manufacturers and retailers seeking the holy grail of reduced energy consumption and compliance with forthcoming EU regulations. One thing that is certain is that equipment manufacturers and suppliers are going to have to take the EU labelling regulations seriously and many will need to take significant action to ensure that their products meet the stringent minimum energy efficiency requirements. The message is clear: there is no alternative to compliance.