Beacon II Prevents Ice Cream Distributor From Meltdown

Buffalo receives more snow annually than any other city in the lower 48 states. But that’s just the half of it.

“During the winter months, it can feel colder outside the plant than inside our freezers,” said John Beck, vice president and general manager of Instantwhip Buffalo, Inc.

That’s pretty cold, considering that the box temperature at Instantwhip is kept at a chilly -17°F. Fortunately for Instantwhip Buffalo, Inc., a manufacturer of “half and half” dairy creamers and distributor of ice cream, temperatures in Buffalo vary greatly; cold days boost demand for hot coffee and creamers, and when temperatures soar into the 90s in August, so do ice cream sales.

But while Mother Nature’s changes in the temperature are good for Instantwhip’s business, fluctuations in a refrigeration system’s temperature can cause a real meltdown.

“With evaporator temperatures ranging from -25°F to -30°F, precise superheat control is critical for proper system operation and efficiency,” said Bob Holl, Refrigeration Division superintendent of State Refrigeration, a division of MJ Mechanical Services.

Last year, when Instantwhip’s ice cream sales grew beyond its freezer capacity, Instantwhip contacted Mark State, project manager at State Refrigeration, for his recommendations. State designed a turnkey freezer complex, utilizing Bohn’s newest refrigeration system, the Beacon II. “We wanted nothing but the best for Instantwhip in superheat control and monitoring,” said State. “Beacon II is able to give that to us because its pressure/temperature correlation mechanism is more accurate in measuring superheat than traditional temp-in/temp-out systems.”

State Refrigeration sourced the equipment and got engineering help from Jordan Supply, Inc.’s sales rep Tom Dobmeier. “We wanted to be able to offer State Refrigeration the opportunity to quote differently from the competition’s traditional hot-gas, electric defrost refrigeration system,” said Dobmeier. “The Beacon II defrosts on demand, has more accurate set points and, with the optional Smart Controller, the end-user or service personnel can monitor the system from home or office, just like large systems in supermarkets.”

All of these features have been readily available for large manufacturers and supermarkets for some time, but small operations couldn’t access this kind of technology—until now.

“Beacon II is the first system of this caliber that targets the one-to-four-refrigeration-unit customers,” said Holl. Instantwhip needs matched this profile, so State Refrigeration installed a system with four Bohn rooftop units, four evaporators equipped with the Beacon II system and one Smart Controller. “For a few hundred dollars,” added Holl, “you can do with Beacon II what can cost thousands in other systems. The best part about it is it doesn’t take any extra time. We completed this job within three weeks.”

Beacon II has an alpha-numeric LED readout on the coil board and an electric expansion valve. In addition, its Smart Defrost system defrosts only when necessary, saving energy as well as reducing wear and tear on equipment.

“And,” said Paul Sullivan of D & M Associates, Bohn’s representative in western New York, “Beacon II’s Smart Controller offers data logging, an alarm system, control over multiple systems from a single location and remote monitoring capabilities via modem using user-friendly Windows-based software.”

“The Smart Controller software is quite convenient for answering customer questions,” said Holl. For instance, Instantwhip needed to put the Beacon II system in “out-of-service-mode” when it was first installed, but wasn’t clear how to perform this operation. Instant-whip contacted Holl at home that evening; from his personal computer Holl was able to connect with the Beacon II system via modem and run the procedure for Instantwhip, eliminating the need for a service call. Holl also loaded the Smart Controller software into Instantwhip’s computer system so management could monitor and check the Beacon II’s performance. Color bar and line graphs replace plain numeric readouts, making data interpretation much easier.

“Now it’s easy to read these graphs and troubleshoot potential problems before they develop into major issues,” said Holl.

With Smart Controller, a contractor doesn’t have to brave the elements and climb a 20-foot ladder inside the box to monitor and control the system at the coils. Instead, this is done from Smart Controller’s easy-to-read LED display and touch-pad controls either mounted outside the box or from the convenience of a computer in a remote location. In the past, systems of this size could not have been monitored in this manner, and therefore problems weren’t detected until there was a major breakdown in an ancillary system.

“I’m happy with Beacon II, “said Beck. “I know the product is being kept frozen and if there is a problem, Smart Controller will alarm us immediately. That gives me peace of mind.”