The spreadsheets, reports and analysis all have been reviewed. The decision has been made to build or expand a cold-storage warehouse or food-processing facility, and the heart of the operation will be an ammonia refrigeration system.
As a good corporate citizen, you want to make sure the facility operates safely. As a good businessperson, you want to make sure the system operates easily, runs efficiently and requires minimal maintenance. Here are 10 ideas that will help you to achieve these goals.
Retain a qualified ammonia refrigeration engineer, preferably a licensed professional engineer (PE).This may sound like a fairly easy task to accomplish, but a lot of research should go into the selection process. Perform a detailed analysis of the candidates' qualifications. For example, what kind of experience do they have? Have they engineered similar projects? Are they knowledgeable about energy sources? What is their work history with ammonia? Visit some of their previous projects and talk to the owners about each engineer's performance. If you are working with a design/build firm, apply these standards to both sides of the firm.
Design the system in accordance with the latest edition of the ANSI/IIAR 2 standard.
The ANSI/IIAR 2 standard specifically addresses ammonia refrigeration equipment, machinery room design and system installation. It details proper equipment identification, system operation diagnostics and preventative maintenance. System testing and startup are also detailed along with piping and pressure-relief devices.
Design the system in accordance with the latest edition of the ANSI/IIAR 2 standard.The ANSI/IIAR 2 standard specifically addresses ammonia refrigeration equipment, machinery room design and system installation. It details proper equipment identification, system operation diagnostics and preventative maintenance. System testing and startup are also detailed along with piping and pressure-relief devices.
Follow the ANSI/ASHRAE 15 safety code.As part of your examination of your engineer's or contractor's qualifications, make certain he or she does not have a history of cutting corners that could impact the facility's safe operation. Make certain the ventilation system is up to code. Also be sure that the emergency shutdown switch is easily accessible -- it is something most code authorities require. Placing the emergency shutdown switch outside, near the outdoor exit, is a must.
Make certain the system piping follows ASME B31-5 piping code.The code details the classification and strength of ammonia refrigeration system piping. The cleanliness of the piping system is a must if the system is to be easily commissioned. Dirt and scale clog strainers and filters.
Design the system in accordance with the IIAR Ammonia Refrigeration Piping Handbook.The handbook details the entire piping system, including equipment rooms, evaporative condensers and pressure-relief devices. It also covers codes and standards, efficient pipe sizing, insulation systems and welding procedures. There also is a chapter that assists a designer with the selection of piping by analyzing piping costs vs. operating costs.
Select a qualified ammonia refrigeration contractor.Check into the contractor's track record. Has the company built ammonia refrigeration systems previously? Ask for references and perform a detailed followup with the various installations' managers and owners. As in the first tip, if you are working with a design/build company, apply the same questions to the engineering side of the firm.
Review your contractor's or engineer's experience with and knowledge of OSHA and EPA regulations as they relate to ammonia refrigeration.What is his or her experience dealing with the regulations issued by these agencies and how they affect your facility? What assistance can the contractor/engineer provide the facility with OSHA compliance reports that may be necessary for some ammonia refrigeration operations?
Analyze energy efficiency issues.Examine both gas- and electric-driven compression equipment. Is off-peak pricing available for either power source? Be certain to look at the system under full load, partial load, light load and weekend operation.
Make certain your system is designed to enable easy operation and maintenance.Try to avoid cramped equipment rooms because they can be unsafe and difficult to maintain. Easy access to the roof is important. Wide stairs can make it easier to transport tools or heavy equipment to the roof. An elevator is another good idea. If it is difficult to get to the roof, maintenance can suffer.
Make certain the commissioning process is fully defined and documented before startup.System operators should be on hand to witness the startup procedure. Determine if your contractor offers hands-on, system-specific training of all operating personnel, including the plant manager.
One more thing: Many of the items on this checklist also apply to the purchase of an existing ammonia refrigeration system. An examination of most of these suggestions as they relate to an existing facility will give you a pretty good idea of the real value of the prospective investment.