Tecnofrío 2018 was the third edition of this leading conference in the refrigeration sector. It was organised by the Community of Madrid Energy Foundation and the Spanish Technical Association for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (ATECYR), whose main aim was to analyse the current position of the sector both in commercial and industrial refrigeration, and address the future of the sector.

The conference was split into four sessions: the evolution of energy saving techniques in industrial refrigeration, management and security in Industry 4.0, safety regulations in refrigeration facilities, and the evolution and application of CO2 in commercial refrigeration.

The organising committee scheduled us to take part in the round table in the second session focusing on Industry 4.0.

What is Industry 4.0 in the Industrial Refrigeration sector?

In our talk we wanted to go into detail on two concepts: one of them was data, the digitization process which we are all facing and how to convert that data into information. The base of the automation pyramid is the field network, in other words, the instrumentation and the sensors. Building on a well-structured base is much more streamlined and efficient.

But is it just a lot of data or is it information we need? Control and integration systems handle the transformation of that data into information, which will then be sent to the different departments of a refrigeration company. Maintenance staff, quality control staff and the finance manager don’t all need to receive the same information. Given the different roles they each hold, the plant staff will need to have information about alarms in the machine room, pressures and/or temperatures, unexpected compressor activation and so forth. Quality control staff will receive temperature readings from the fridge chambers, product temperatures, whether they are within optimal working limits and so forth. Finance personnel need cost reports.

The other concept we wanted to highlight, which was also one of the main focuses of the conference, was energy management tools. One of the biggest concerns for companies today is energy management and consumption. This type of software will not save energy when installed but we will be able to know where it is being consumed.

In other words, energy saving measures cannot be taken if we don’t know where and how much is being consumed. This type of software is very much linked to Industry 4.0 as it features both control and supervision of energy consumption. Different types of energy can be collated, registered, and visualised in reports, graphs and so on. This always takes place in real time to allow for checks at any time and with the information being sent onwards for subsequent evaluation.

We can no longer be content with only analysing complex global raw data. We need to look for something that will give us the key performance indicators (KPIs) or previously established parameters by turning data into knowledge and information.

Industry 4.0 has now reached the refrigeration sector and it’s going to give us full control of our factories and better management to improve energy efficiency.

We hope we cleared up any doubts from the previous edition where we were all unsure of what shape future solutions would take. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s edition with new and improved ideas.