I was going to start this column by saying ‘these are crucial times to get natural refrigeration right’.
Then I was going to discuss how at our Retail Question Time event last month, there was a lot of good positive talk about working together to iron out some of the supply issues that the rush to naturals has created – and there are some major ones, with the contractor sector particularly feeling that it has been squeezed by massively increased calls for training and the resources to go with it.
At the same time, the industry is working with the Carbon Trust to create a code of conduct for retail refrigeration, which is designed to pull together standards that can be applied universally across the retail sector. There was a sense at the Question Time that this is really could be the once in a lifetime opportunity to get the standards sorted for the whole supply chain, particularly in new technology, but also in leak reduction too.
Then came the by-now oft-reported ‘blast’ at Tesco in Walkden. If ever there was an event that could crystallise opinions this was it. It has been noted that the presence of someone with a videophone helped to ensure the incident could not simply be quickly and quietly sorted out and then marked down to experience in the way that several other CO2 leaks have been before now.
We don’t know the full details as I speak but it seems likely it is a joint issue which may require the installation team and probably the design team to review their procedures.
But what it doesn’t mean is that the whole of the development of CO2 refrigeration should be put on hold.
It has been interesting to note that the news caused a wave of panic on the engineering forums, with calls from some to steer away from the gas altogether.
But surely we as an industry need to realise that teething troubles are inevitable with new technology, particularly when it requires a new way of working.
And we should see this as a good wake-up call, ensuring that the move to CO2 takes place at a pace that ensures absolute best practice from customer to manufacturer. As it happens we will be discussing naturals in next month’s Round Table debate. It will make interesting reading.