How fast growing Fleisherei Biltong and Butchery Group is driving down its energy costs with Matador’s refrigeration expertise and professional service
Johan Jonker, CEO at Fleisherei Group says refrigeration plays an absolutely critical role in their operations.
As a major cost factor, it received critical attention in their planning and set them on a thorough selection and vetting process to find a reliable, high-end refrigeration contractor who would squeeze the maximum efficiency from the refrigeration plant for them while providing a reliable service.
The new facility has a total staff complement exceeding 200 members and requires around three times more refrigeration capacity than the previous processing facility.
Now running for over a year it is still a work in progress.
The Phase 1 installation energy saving is much better than anticipated.
Johan estimates that compared to his old plant his relative saving per kW of cooling is at least in the order of 50 – 60%.
On this journey to energy efficiency, one of the first things that Matador director Grant Ford did was to persuade Johan to go for an R134a/CO2 sub-critical cascade multiplex system for their medium and low-temperature requirements.
While initially skeptical, Johan saw that despite the higher plant cost, the energy savings using CO2 in low-temperature applications would be dramatic and worthwhile with COP’s in excess of 4.
Matador with over 60 CO2 cascade plants installed under their belt was in a good position to guide them in their choice. Grant Ford notes that CO2 is the future of refrigeration.
While the maximum Global Warming Potential (GWP) index for refrigerants is constantly under scrutiny with a worldwide drive to achieve the lowest possible figures, CO2 and other natural refrigerants are being looked at as a viable solution, CO2 having a GWP of 1.
By contrast, the medium temperature requirements are run off two multiplex systems using R134A refrigerant, this refrigerant, was chosen due to a relatively lower GWP compared to other HFC refrigerants and has a “drop-in” replacement, XP10 that has an AR5 GWP of 573 with a safety classification of A1.
At the time the use of the cascade type system was preferred due to the severe higher ambient conditions experienced in South Africa.
The Coefficient of Performance or COP on CO2 at 4.65 sold Johan Jonker on the system after his initial reluctance.
The COP on R134A at just over 3, this can only be achieved with a special cooling technique that reduces power usage once the system has started.
New plant – critical choices and results
The new plant has 724 kW of medium temperature and 105 kW low temperature refrigeration at maximum demand. It is designed with an 850 amp connected load which to date at maximum, heat-wave, operating conditions drew just 511 amps. This drops to an average draw of 410 amps under midsummer conditions.
Extreme operating conditions
With refrigeration absolutely critical to their operation, even a couple of hours without refrigeration would result in severe losses. So great care was taken to accommodate any adverse summer conditions in the design and a cooling capacity safety margin in case of extreme heatwave conditions was built into the plant.
Their average minimum amperage draw across the seasons and day and night over the first year of operation is just 242 amps and the average maximum at any one time as proved in a severe heatwave was 493 amps.
Energy savings beyond cooling
With Johan’s focus on energy saving, Matador was able to further reduce energy consumption with a number of heat exchangers installed on the refrigeration plant to supply hot water for 2 x 1600 litre boilers that have a 62 kW Heat Pump as backup energy during winter conditions.
The Heat Pump is also used to cool the plant room down and maintain a temperature of 26 °C. A condensate reclaim system was also installed to capture “Grey Water” used for toilet flushing.
To maximize energy savings Matador developed its own software for each site that controls the way the sub-cooling operates, thus allowing maximum output efficiency with minimum input capacity.
This type of “thinking out the box” engineering keeps us ahead of the energy-saving drive in the refrigeration industry.
Multiplexes are the first choice for energy saving for any application and efficiency can then be further enhanced by clever engineering and design.
To date, the water has always been above 50°C ranging up to 55°C, supplied virtually free from the refrigeration plant.
Fleisherei was founded on biltong and this remains a large and critical part of the business.
Matador designed a system where hot water from the boilers is used to assist, in conjunction with refrigeration, to dry the air in the biltong making process.
For fail-safe operation, they have also installed backup electric drying equipment, but this ran just a total of 2 hours in the past year.
Controls, alarms and service
For overall alarm, control, and management of the refrigeration a Carel monitoring system was used to measure and record the performance of the plant for HACCP purposes.
This gives both Johan and the Matador service team early warning of problems and includes SMS’s, e-mails, and buzzer alarms.
Johan likes the fast response Matador provides attending to these alarms – he gets the alarms on his cell phone and says by the time he gets to the plant room the Matador guys are already working on the problem.
All told, he says, Matador was the right choice to take the project forward.
He is convinced he is recouping his investment.
The new plant is three times the size of the old but not the electricity bill.
In fact, electricity as an expense is actually still going down in percentage terms as their volumes through the plant rise.
Looking back, Johan says they went through a tough vetting process for all their suppliers.
On the whole project, Matador stood out as the best contractor.
The plant design was well done and saves them money.
They were on time, made a quality installation with all the pipes neatly insulated. And he just likes the way they handled the project
Grant says from Matador’s perspective for a successful business relationship it is absolutely important that customers understand what is being offered to them and why. “There is a real passion at Matador that sets us aside from the rest.”
We at Matador Refrigeration would like to thank Johan, Nico, and their team for allowing us the privilege of being part of this project, and hope to be proud partners going further into the future with them.