Icehouse to Personal Refrigeration: Refrigeration

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Icehouse to Personal Refrigeration: Refrigeration Industry and the Green Innovation Conference Paper · September 2018





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Synopses Proceedings, DBA Case Study Symposium - 2018, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


Icehouse to Personal Refrigeration: Refrigeration Industry and the Green Innovation

Ajith Shanmuganathan [email protected] Doctoral Student, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka Synopsis Food preservation is an indispensable requirement in the human history to conserve the surplus. The humanity has used several ways of preserving foods and cooling is one of the most convenient and widely used methods to preserve food. At the same time, the increase in female occupation in developing nations also leads to a considerable rise in the consumption of frozen foods. In this context refrigeration of food items plays a pivotal role in our day to day life. While admiring the historical developments in the refrigeration industry, the impact on energy and environmental factors related to refrigeration is also needed to be critically argued. As per International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) estimation in 2015 there were 1.5 billion refrigerators and freezers categorised under domestic refrigeration and 90 million commercial refrigeration equipment classified under commercial refrigeration are equipped worldwide which directly contribute to the refrigeration of food. IIR estimate based on an analysis of fragmentary data about the sectorial electricity consumptions, the refrigeration sector consumes about 17% of the overall electricity used worldwide. Also, it is notable 4 % of the electricity consumption of the global electricity used for domestic refrigeration. On the other hand, there are 4 million refrigerated vehicles and 1.2 million refrigerated containers under the classification of refrigerated transport which is also a contributor to the refrigeration of food, worldwide. According to IIR the lack in availability of cold chain creates considerable food losses up to 20 % of the global food supply. With the rising demand of the global food demand, it is essential to control the losses while increasing the production to cater to the future demand to feed the growing population. According to the estimate done by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the food production has to be increased by 70 % of the current production by 27

Synopses Proceedings, DBA Case Study Symposium - 2018, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


the year 2050. The comparison in-between the developed nations and developing nation, the food loss due to the lack of a cold chain is 9% and 23 % respectively. It is evident that the refrigeration industry has a significant role to play on this caption to have a control on increasing undernutrition growing worldwide with the population rise. It is lucrative to study this area in the developing countries where the people have a deficit of food for their living followed by malnutrition. Having said that, the author tries to critically analyse the impacts on environment and power consumption which also have the increased impact on carbon footprints. From the ancient time, man preserves food by keeping it in low temperatures. Icehouse is the first human-made cool storage using natural means. During the winter the icehouses are made naturally near the freshwater lakes or using snow and ice in the western countries. Icehouses were used to cool the drinks and store the fresh meat for a particular period using mountain side runoff from melting snow. Later the humanity realised the requirement of storing food in summer and the term refrigerator introduced in the 17th century. In 1918 a company called Kelvinator introduced the automatic control refrigerators to the market. Many revelations have happened from the time of the invention of refrigerators and continue to happen until today in the refrigeration industry in terms of making the refrigeration units better, efficient and unharmful to nature. Sri Lanka in 1880’s Colombo Ice Company (CIC) initiated producing ice on a commercial scale for a growing market later eventually entered to the carbonated water and soft drink industry. Later CIC transformed as Ceylon Cold Stores Limited under the elephant logo. Sri Lanka has a population nearly 21 million and 35.1% of the population equipped with refrigerators. Associated Electrical Company introduced the Sisil refrigerator in 1963 in Sri Lanka, and later Sisil was the first refrigerator brand manufactured in Sri Lanka. With the open economy announced in 1977, Sisil faced challenges to sustain the shares in the market and lost its market position. The revels such as National, Whirlpool, Singer change market dynamics by using new technologies and easy payment terms to the customers. One time rival Singer Sri Lanka bought Sisil in 2001 with introducing ECO Fridge with the conversion to the greatest energy efficient R600a refrigerant, LED lighting, Nutri-seal and copper tubing, which has given a reentry to the pioneer brand. Taking the advantages of Singer’s strong sales network and technological changes Sisil introduced 50% savings on power consumption and super-efficient cooling with all-around environment28

Synopses Proceedings, DBA Case Study Symposium - 2018, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


friendliness. Sisil repositioned its brand at the same time singer capitalised Sisil’s long-lasting brand image. Singer’s local associate Regnis Lanka started manufacturing Sisil products, after the landmark brand deal between two of Sri Lanka’s blue-chip conglomerates. Later Regnis (Lanka) PLC started production of bottle coolers commenced for Elephant House and Ole Springs Bottlers (Pvt) Ltd., bottlers of Pepsi to capitalise this opportunity. Hayleys PLC a diversified conglomerate become controlling shareholder of Singer Sri Lanka which acquired a stake of 71%. There are other manufacturers of refrigerators and commercial refrigerators in Sri Lanka such as Abans, Everest, White international as well. Abans concentrates on domestic refrigerators and the other two concentrate on commercial refrigerators. Abans is currently engaged in the manufacture or assembling of several customer durables, including refrigerators. Everest Industrial Lanka (Pvt) Ltd (EILPL) is a leading manufacturer of cold merchandising equipment such as Visi-coolers, bottle coolers and the company based in export processing zone Katunayake. Established in 2006 entering into the Sri Lankan manufacturing industry with the target to the Indian market with her past client portfolio with blue-chip companies. Refrigerators from1800’s till 1929 used toxic gases and decades later people realise that these chlorofluorocarbons endangered the ozone layer of the entire planet. The replacement of widely used refrigerants with hydrocarbons to be used as refrigerants to overcome the issue. The other aspect is to reduce the carbon footprints by controlling the energy consumption of the coolers which led to many innovations in the industry. At a glance, the innovation is a must to have activity in this industry. Refrigeration and air conditioning are accountable for a substantial share of global greenhouse gas emissions. Especially in developing countries and emerging economies, the demand for cooling equipment is rising. Low levels of effectiveness and high seepage of refrigerant gases with high global warming potential will escalation these emissions drastically. As the case review explains, it is essential to understand the future of the cooling industry where the food and beverage industries critically depend on the cooling industry. Further, the general perception was that, due to steady economic growth in the last decade, the purchasing power of refrigeration units and air conditioners of middle income and lower-middle-income groups had substantially increased. The development of the cold chain will not necessarily worsen its environmental impact: technical evolutions will tend to reduce the cold chain’s environmental 29

Synopses Proceedings, DBA Case Study Symposium - 2018, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


impact hence there should be a balance to be maintained between the requirement of refrigeration and the climatic impact. There is a potential for analysing this subject further, and in-depth empirical studies are suggested to be done in the field to fork perspective. Even though many studies are carried out in the developed countries in this context, there are very few studies are taken place in the developing countries. This piece of work also tries to pave a direction for the readers in three contrast facets sustainability of the refrigeration industry, alternatives methods of food processing and the technology, innovation in refrigeration manufacturing and usage, in the prospect of the ecosystem approach.


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