Hussmann Marks Another Sustainability Milestone in Georgia

Company opens state-of-the-art engineering lab for refrigerants
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
Hussmann executives cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art lab in Suwanee, Georgia, on Feb. 13.

On a beautiful winter day last month in the north Georgia suburbs, Hussmann Corp. continued its quiet journey to revolutionize the grocery industry. 

As one of the leaders in refrigeration systems for the food retailing industry, Hussmann debuted a new, state-of-the-art engineering lab in Suwanee, Ga., on Feb. 13. This lab is capable of testing refrigeration systems at extreme temperature conditions and helps further support sustainability goals now and into the future for grocery retailers.

[RELATED: Hussmann Powers the Next Era of Food Retail]

“We're here to cut the ribbon on this new facility, but we're really here from a stewardship and a people perspective,” said Chief Commercial Officer Dave Martin, standing rnext to a new chamber in the lab that can go from minus 20 degrees to 115 degrees Fahrenheit in two hours. “We're doing this for our customers. We're doing this for our employees. We're doing this for the environment. This lab and expansion will help us build more sustainable systems in the future that will support our industry as well as support the environmental goals that we have for North America.”

Evolve Technologies

Last year Hussmann launched a new platform called Evolve Technologies, which is the company’s commitment to investing in sustainable refrigeration solutions for today, tomorrow, and the future.

“Now, more than ever, we understand the uncertainties retailers face as a business,” said CEO Tim Figge. “Helping them navigate the ever-changing regulatory and environmental challenges is essential to us. What remains at our core is what Hussmann has always been known for: refrigerated merchandisers, refrigeration system solutions, and cutting-edge technologies. We believe the Evolve Technologies portfolio will help retailers succeed through innovation and sustainability.”

Under the Evolve Technologies portfolio, Hussmann is focused on low-GWP solutions including natural and synthetic refrigerants – including CO2, propane, and emerging alternative low GWP refrigerants. 

Martin said the company is working with retailers on “stores of the future,” and that’s where the versatility of Hussmann’s products really becomes apparent.

“We sit down with retailers and talk about what they're trying to accomplish to find the right solution,” Martin said. “For some, transcritical CO2 is the right application. For others there's a better solution with propane or emerging alternative low GWP refrigerants. We partner with our customers to craft a unique solution to fit their needs in the most sustainable manner.”

[RELATED: Carbon-Cutting Refrigerants Are a Natural Fit for Grocers]

Another differentiator for Hussmann has been its service for customers after the equipment leaves the building. Hussmann has more than 1,200 technicians across North America to provide support. Additionally, the company utilizes its refrigeration management system, StoreConnect, to enhance predictive analytics and diagnosis by tapping into the data in refrigeration systems and equipment. For example, this can help customers understand as early as possible when there's a problem to dispatch a service technician with the right part at the right time. Turning the data into actionable results with quicker response time to refrigerant leaks, reduced equipment downtime, and less money spent on costly emergency service calls. It’s all part of the company’s laser focus on innovative technologies. 

“Through this system we are able to predict when failures of key components are likely to happen. It's a big change in the historical service model to be able to call the retailer beforehand and say, ‘We need to come out there tomorrow because we're seeing something on our end regarding your compressor that we want to address before it's too late.' Compared to the way retailers previously had to operate by reacting to emergency alarms in the moment," Martin added.

Next-Gen Refrigeration

The new lab is located in Hussmann’s 350,000-square-foot facility in Suwanee, where it has operated a mixed production line plant for 25 years. Recently the company has continued to invest in the facility and its capabilities, including new LED lights, a new roof, new air conditioners and new manufacturing equipment. The new lab inside the cavernous yet impeccably tidy manufacturing plant will allow the company to meet “a backlog of demand to really deliver the product that meets customers’ expectations every day.” The new lab is part of the company’s effort to expand production capacity for transcritical carbon dioxide (CO2) rack systems and invest in other low GWP refrigerants in compliance with regulations.

“In order to be able to drive some of the innovation and the new refrigerant technologies that are needed, we needed more lab space and capabilities to accelerate those solutions,” said VP, Systems & Krack Product Solutions Lianne Tombol. “And this lab is going to allow us to test all of our sustainable refrigerant solutions for the future, speaking primarily from propane, CO2, and also emerging alternative low GWP refrigerants. Hussmann is all about critical temperature and keeping the product safe for consumption. And we've been doing that for over 116 years – this is just an evolution of our journey.”

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Environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, upcoming regulations and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase downs are rapidly accelerating the demand for transcritical CO2 systems throughout the grocery industry. With the upcoming implementation of new regulations, Hussmann says it is expecting to see demand for CO2 products accelerate.

The expansion of the lab and production capabilities in Suwanee is focused on Hussmann’s transcritical rack systems and Protocol distributed platform and is designed to serve large- and medium-sized retail floorplans.

Compared to a traditional HFC, transcritical CO2 systems have a low GWP of 1 – providing a refrigeration solution that has the lowest possible environmental impact. Hussmann’s transcritical CO2 system is Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed, 50 state compliant, meets the needs of the upcoming EPA regulations and provides an advantage for retailers looking to meet their ESG goals.

At Hussmann’s Georgia plant, the company gave community officials a fun and educational tour of the grounds as workers fine-tuned some gorgeous pieces of refrigeration equipment. The flexibility and diversity of refrigeration system customizations sets Hussmann apart, company officials said. 

The debut of Hussmann’s state-of-the-art lab and expanded production capabilities signifies the continued dedication this leading company has to the food retailing industry. Hussmann remains committed to making significant investments into both the company and its facilities – continuing to put the retailer first and guide them throughout the evolving market and regulatory impacts. 

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