Ahead of the game with new technology
M&B Backwaren in the town of Olfen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany recently decided to upgrade its existing refrigeration technology, and with new CO2 systems from KOMA, the company is now ready for the future.
In 2017, M&B Backwaren found itself at a technical crossroads. Upgrades were needed for both its oven and refrigeration technology in order to satisfy today’s product quality, energy consumption, and user-friendliness requirements. So, Berthold Brinkert sat down with investment advisor Mr Heuermann of Ebäcko Münster and together, they began working on a plan. They looked carefully at which refrigeration systems were needed and drew up a specification for the contract award. ‘We looked at what had been produced for several bakeries by various suppliers and obtained quotes’, recalls Brinkert. Following a 2018 visit to two companies that use KOMA systems, including one with CO2 refrigeration, it became clear – relatively quickly – that a CO2 booster system was what was needed. Looking back, Brinkert concludes that KOMA’s impressive technology and customer-friendly quotation phase were the main reasons for awarding the contract to KOMA. ‘We had an excellent, trusting, and open relationship with everyone at KOMA from the very outset,’ explains Brinkert. ‘Even if the technology alone were sufficient to come to a decision, the service and understanding of those who were looking after our individual requirements were what really clinched it.’ The decision to opt for KOMA was finally taken at IBA 2018 in Munich. ‘We actually had the final meeting at the airport because we needed to catch our flight,’ adds Brinkert, smiling.
The advantage when constructing a CO2 system is the funding options that are available on account of the energy-saving potential of the system. With the support of Andreas Kötter of energy consultancy Cuekk, they carried out the calculations and submitted the funding applications. Subsidies of 20 - 40% of the overall costs can be obtained, depending on the system, company, and other factors. This funding alone can cover the additional costs incurred by a CO2 system, but with the future proofing that it can provide, it is worth spending more. For further information, see ‘Why CO2 refrigeration?’ in the information box.
The original plans by Ebäcko were largely adopted, but in liaison with both the contractor and technical advisor Markus Heuermann of Ebäcko Münster, were expanded further and optimized based on the experiences of planners at KOMA. ‘The changes all made sense,’ explains Brinkert. ‘We quickly concluded that we were working with real professionals.’ One of Brinkert’s aims was for the new refrigeration systems to use less energy than the old systems. The medium-term goal is to increasingly shift overnight work to the daytime hours. This will not only reduce the need for unsociable night-time work, but will also allow the photovoltaic systems mounted on the roof of the production hall to supply some of the power needed at times of higher load, e.g. when loading the systems and cooling products. 100% of the electricity required for daily production is currently provided by the expanded photovoltaic system.
The company now operates several systems that have been modified to the specific needs of the bakery and the products that the bakery produces. At the heart of the production process are two fully automatic dough conditioning machines, each with a capacity of sixteen rack trolleys. They are designed for a temperature range of -20°C to +35°C. The eight-centimetre thick PU insulation is designed for systems within these temperature ranges. Adjusting the insulation efficiency to the respective system and use is a high priority for KOMA, ensuring that the user has the right level of insulation which, as well as offering product assurance, also keeps costs under control. The speed-controlled radial fans are fitted along the length of the room, ensuring that the airflow in the room is always sufficiently cooled, with the most gentle and even distribution around the room possible. A stainless steel air distribution system and suspended system ceiling ensure that none of the goods are exposed to a direct airflow and therefore do not dry out. The in-built evaporators are large enough to cool 740 kg of goods from +25°C to -5°C within three hours. The fans in the system ensure even utilization of the evaporator. Up to three stacks of bread roll trays are first cooled in a blast freezer system for fifteen minutes. A diffusion airflow and specially-adapted air distribution system channel the circulating air optimally over the dough pieces as they are cooled, resulting in faster heat dissipation. The system’s capacity is 400 kg per hour. The stacks of trays are then fed into a retrofitted storage freezer from the old stock, where they are stored. ‘This means that our sales team no longer needs to be concerned with the baking of the rolls’, explains Brinkert. They have been delighted with the results so far, but different tray types are currently being tested to ensure that the dough pieces can be transported to the branches reliably and at optimal temperature. KOMA has already integrated four existing refrigeration systems, including two different-sized storage freezers, into the new network system. This involved removing the existing technology and replacing it with modern evaporator and fan systems. To ensure reliable operation, the old doors were replaced with modern versions. The new door frames fit within the existing insulation and were installed in such a way that they enable reliable, temperature-stable operation.
As the bakery will probably need additional refrigeration systems in the years to come, KOMA decided to include reserve piping in the plans, which only needs to be connected to the network system on one end and to the refrigeration systems that may be added in the future on the other. ‘This will save us a lot of work and mess in the event of future expansion’, explains Brinkert.
The network itself comprises eight compressors and offers three different temperature ranges from -5°C to -42°C. The network’s smart control system regulates the supply to the refrigeration systems to ensure that the desired room temperature is reached.
‘The new KOMA CO2 booster system has optimized our production process, and in KOMA, I’m certain that I’ve found a partner who will continue to come up with lots of ideas to help us find good solutions.’ - Bernhard Brinkert, M+B Backwaren.
The new network system from KOMA has allowed M&B Backwaren to increase the refrigeration area and to integrate existing systems into the network, helping to reduce costs. KOMA’s foresighted and requirements-focused planning, has helped to optimize processes and increasingly shift overnight work to the daytime hours. Installing additional reserve pipes will allow the refrigeration system to easily be expanded in the future, with very little construction required. ‘I am confident that in KOMA we have found a partner who not only supports you with planning and construction, but who also has lots of ideas and suggestions to help arrive at a good all-round solution’, says Brinkert.
Why CO2 refrigeration?
Refrigerants are categorized with a ‘GWP value’ to as a means of environmental protection. The GWP value defines the global warming potential, or the potential of a refrigerant to contribute to global warming. The higher this value, the greater the risk that a refrigerant will have a negative impact on our climate. The use of refrigerants with certain GWP values is being restricted in connection with the EU objective to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, 2022, and 2030. The use of refrigerants with a GWP of over 2500 has already been prohibited in new systems since the start of 2020, and maintenance works are only permitted using a recycled refrigerant supply. The permitted GWP for new systems is being gradually reduced. Services that use the R404A refrigerant, which is still in common use, will be prohibited from 2030. These refrigeration systems will need to be gradually decommissioned or converted. Manufacturers and suppliers are also limited in the use and distribution of refrigerants that are harmful to the environment. The average GWP of the totality of all refrigerants circulating in the market has gradually reduced over the years.
CO2 has a GWP value of 1. It makes sense to use CO2 as a refrigerant if only for the future security that its very low GWP value offers. There are also other advantages, such as the extremely low cost of CO2 when compared with other refrigerants. Consequently, CO2 is a future-proof and inexpensive refrigerant which, thanks to KOMA’s research and development, is optimally aligned to the refrigeration needs of bakeries.