Maintaining proper temperature is not the only issue that makes refrigerated food storage or service facility owners perspire. The heat of the competitive marketplace also is a big concern in an industry such as food service where success depends on keeping costs low and quality high for perishable and frozen food products. That is why Gordon Food Service, a large, family-owned food service distributor, made a cool, calculated decision to ask Republic Refrigeration to install Danfoss ICF refrigerant valve trains in two ammonia-plant projects.
According to Jay Kell, vice president for Republic Refrigeration Inc., a Monroe, N.C.-based specialist in designing, installing and maintaining industrial refrigeration systems for food facilities, the refrigeration industry likes “to stick with what works,” including valve trains.
“Valve trains are an assembly of components that control the flow of refrigerant and ensure safe, reliable operation,” Kell says. “We have installed countless valve trains in refrigeration systems for food distribution and processing facilities. Usually, we fabricate valve trains from manufactured components in our shop, either here in Monroe or in Hammond [Louisiana]. But in this case, the owner specified the Danfoss ICF product as an alternative,” he says.
“With traditional valve trains, they not only require more welding, but they also involve longer pipe spans,” Kell says. A conventional valve train is about 4' long because it must support fabricated control stations that are spread out, with more welds.
According to Kell, the Danfoss valve train is more compact, which allowed the company to save space in the plant and reduce the amount of refrigerant in the line. Because the ICF valve train components are integrated in a single body, Kell notes that it saves assembly and weld time.
“With the ICF design, only two welds are required. They are weld-in-line valves,” says Kell. “This eliminates flanges and gaskets, which have a tendency to leak. When you consider the reduced total welds and less leak potential by eliminating gaskets, ICF valve trains are well worth it.”
Kell also likes the flexibility. The multi-ported body accepts a combination of function module inserts that are mounted on the ICF body. These modules include stop valves, strainers, solenoid valves, check valves, combination stop/check valves and hand expansion or motorized valves. Electronic control modules also are available where extremely tight temperature control is required.
Due to the modular design, installing an ICF valve train takes about 45 minutes, compared to nearly five hours per conventional valve train. For Kell, the labor savings, fewer leak points and flexible options of the Danfoss intelligent control station are a smart solution in many situations.
“I’m using them now for a facility in Georgia. The ICF system is a cost-effective solution that works, using advanced technology that ensures reliable performance for our customers, who want startup to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.”
“The ICF valve train provides us with a unique solution that cuts down on the number of welds required during installation, reduces opportunities for leaks and enables us to easily change the configuration,” says Jim Tomlinson, a member of the Gordon Food Service engineering group. “And as they improve the efficiency of our operations, they help us deliver more cost-effective solutions to our customers.”
One year after the ICF valve trains were installed at the Pottsville facility, Tomlinson reports they are meeting performance expectations for efficiency, flexibility and reliability, concluding, “We will absolutely specify the ICF for future Gordon Food Service projects.”