Wednesday, June 3, 2020

UK food factory installs Panasonic CO2 commercial refrigeration to cool & freeze sushi

Tanpopo Japanese Food, a UK-based food wholesaler, has recently equipped its warehouse in Feltham, West London, with condensing units from the Panasonic CO2 Cold Chain range.

The units were installed by Versan Ltd of Chertsey, Surrey, a company that specialises in the installation of refrigeration technology.

For over 20 years, Tanpopo has been making and supplying sushi to catering companies, supermarkets, hotels, stadia and event organisers across the UK.

With the use of renewable technology and reliability high on the agenda for Tanpopo, Panasonic’s Cold Chain Commercial Refrigeration range, which uses environmentally-friendly CO2, was the ideal choice for all their frozen and chilled food storage refrigeration requirements when the business moved to its new premises in Feltham.

Peter Bigmore, Owner of Tanpopo Japanese Food, said: “After extensive trialling of another competing product, we chose the Panasonic solution because of its environmentally-friendly credentials.

“Other key factors were the range’s reliability, the fact the units are compatible with a range of control systems and due to the low charge of CO2 required by the units, no additional leak detection equipment was necessary for this application.”

A further challenge for this installation was that the cooking and manufacturing process in the factory results in ambient temperatures of up to 43oC, so any refrigeration units chosen must be able to operate efficiently even in these extreme conditions.

Fortunately, this is one of the unique benefits of the Panasonic units, which can operate efficiently at this temperature, and thus provides additional confidence in the technology of the product.

The Panasonic CO2 Cold Chain units are suitable for both refrigerated and freezer showcases, as well as walk-in freezers and cold rooms – offering a solution for all commercial refrigeration needs.

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The technology has been specifically developed for small to medium capacity applications within the retail and food service sectors. The range available in the UK features units for medium temperature (4kW to 16kW) and low temperature (2kW to 8kW) condensing units. Additionally, the 16kW (10HP) units can be connected to provide up to 32kW cooling capacity at medium temperature.

Launched in Japan in 2010, the range has 10 years’ experience in projects within Japan and was first launched in the UK in 2018. The key benefits and factors to the success of the units is due to the reliability, the compact size, the unique two stage compressor, the easy installation and the use of the natural refrigerant CO2. Furthermore, the units are compatible with a range of different control systems.

In July 2019, Versan commissioned and has currently installed four Panasonic 2kW CO2 units at Tanpopo Japanese Food’s premises in Feltham that replaced four of the R404 systems, two in the low temperature cold rooms at -30°C and two serving as medium temperature chillers at -4°C.

Due to the advice from Versan and their experience of CO2, further units are due to be installed to replace all the current R404 systems at the premises. Each of the Panasonic units is used to either freeze or chill the products produced in the sushi factory, that are then stored prior to them being shipped to supermarkets around the UK.

Xavier Debray, Managing Director of Versan, said: “One of the pre-requisites for many supermarket chains now is to review their supply chain and their green credentials, such as the use of renewable technology during their processes.

“The Panasonic units use CO2, a very attractive natural alternative to conventional refrigerant gases. CO2 has a zero ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) and a GWP (Global Warming Potential) equal to 1 (compared to a refrigerant like R404A with a GWP of 3922).”

Mr Debrey has a keen interest in renewable and sustainable technology and in particular the use of CO2 and added: “I studied the use of CO2 as a refrigerant some years ago when at University and was thrilled after recent research that manufacturers such as Panasonic are now embracing this technology and have developed a reliable commercial refrigeration range that uses CO2.

“Some of Tanpopo’s partners are also Japanese and really liked the fact that the technology from Panasonic has originated and been proven in projects for over a decade in Japan. Furthermore, the unique benefit of the Panasonic range is being able to easily switch from either freeze or chill mode.”

Indy Tharnvithian, Technical Specialist for CO2 at Panasonic, said: “When installing the Panasonic CO2 range, just two settings are required – vacuum mode and evaporating setting – everything else is pre-set. Obviously if need be, settings can easily be modified with alarms that will indicate any wrong settings.

“If installers register on the Panasonic Pro-Club website, they will have access to free commissioning tools that includes a cooling capacity calculator, pipe calculator and EEV quick selection tool.”

Xavier further explained that, “As Versan were one of the first to commission and install the Panasonic units in the UK, we were originally a little bit apprehensive, but found that by working with Indy, Technical Specialist at Panasonic, onsite during the design and commissioning stage, plus throughout the process, helped to make the process easier.

“In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by how easy the units were to install and how reliable the units have been since installation. So much so that Tanpopo are looking to install further units.”

For more information on the Panasonic Commercial Refrigeration range and the current offer (as at March 2020) of free commissioning, visit the website.

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