Leading manufacturer of refrigeration control systems, GB Controls, produced an advanced refrigeration control system for Cobrey Farms, in conjunction with HRP and CoolingFX.
Cobrey Farms has a long standing relationship with contractors CoolingFX and approached them with a view to improving their green credentials through advanced technology, as they looked to install new refrigeration equipment on their site.
GB Controls has played the pivotal role of engineering a high-quality control system for the project, ensuring that Cobrey Farm’s philosophy was entrenched in the subsequent electrical control specification.
Cobrey Farms is well-known for its innovation and advanced technology to enhance the yielding of crops. In a bid to become more environmentally friendly, when it came to installing additional evaporators in one of their coldrooms, they looked to do this with energy efficiency in mind across the whole project.
The electrical specification called for new refrigeration equipment coupled with a high level PLC based control system to operate refrigeration chill stores. Key features of the control system include the incorporation of gas leak detection and stepper electronic expansion valves driven by suitable controllers to control superheat, improve efficiency and keep refrigerant charge to a minimum.
Furthermore, there was also a requirement for a centralised control and data logger to take in a large number of temperature and control inputs, both from the evaporator control panels and the refrigeration compressor packs. As a result, remote monitoring could be achieved over the internet on a TCP/IP network.
Each evaporator was to be fitted with its own dedicated controller to stage cooling on and off across the room. One major aspect of control was the fully automatic selection of the defrost strategy, based purely on the set point selection. In other words, when operating at a relatively high temperature (eg. 6-8 °C), the controller would automatically select no defrost required. Medium temperatures (eg. 2-6 °C) would mean that the controller would select off cycle defrost, and at sub 2°C setpoints, the controller chooses an electric defrost strategy to clear frost from the equipment.
Thanks to this functionality, the control panel enables a single room to be configured as either a chiller or freezer, a huge advantage for Cobrey Farms, as they continue to implement advanced technology solutions into the running of their business.
The timeline of this project spanned from November 2021 to May 2022.
Following a CoolingFX specification consultation at Cobrey Farms in November 2021, GB Controls received the enquiry and specification from the wholesaler (HRP) in December 2021.
Once the order was placed in January 2022, our team worked on fine tuning the quotation where necessary, and went on to prepare electrical schematics and software programming during late January 2022. Following approval, the panels were built, tested and despatched by GB Controls in February.
The end point of the overall project saw an equipment installation by the contractor Cooling FX, which commenced in April 2022 and continued into May, when it was fully commissioned.
Since R744 (Carbon Dioxide) was the specified refrigerant gas, consideration had to be duly given to safety, in terms of a dedicated gas leak detection system. Consequently, the facility was added to the central controller to interface the leak detection system directly via an ethernet connection. This ensured that this system too was fully integrated and available for remote monitoring.
To provide accurate control of refrigerant flow through the system, maintaining high efficiency, Danfoss type CCMT Stepper Valves were selected. These valves were driven directly by the RDM PLC controller which also incorporated additional dedicated electronics to assist with valve closure in the event of any power loss or temporary disruption.
The evaporator control was achieved using RDM PLC programmable controllers. Each individual PLC controller had its own parameter list complete with descriptions. The Coldroom control panels used dedicated colour touch screens similar in operation to HMIs so that the customer had local control of each evaporator.
During the project, it quickly became apparent that a software program would need to be written to effectively provide the unique control strategy demanded by the system. To achieve this, our engineers used RDM (Resource Data Management), PLC controllers, along with custom software produced in the TDB (The Data Builder) software environment.
Subsequent to the successful commission of the project in May, the cutting-edge technology is already providing a plethora of benefits for Cobrey Farms, with further projects now in the pipeline to commence utilising the same system and control philosophy in other locations and across more applications.
Director of GB Controls, James Hibbert commented: “ We were delighted to be given an opportunity to work with Cobrey Farms to achieve their objectives. Energy efficient control panel solutions are becoming increasingly sought after across the industry. I’m incredibly proud of the planning and implementation from our team throughout this project. We are looking forward to working with Cooling FX and their partners again in the future.”
GB Controls has almost 40 years experience in supplying a range of industries with electrical control panels and fault rated motor control centres. As a Lancashire based engineering firm, GB Controls puts customer requirements at the forefront, providing an unrivalled customer experience.
Company Directors, James Hibbert and Peter Wootten, took over the company 10 years ago and have continued to grow the business within the industry, as the GB Controls brand continues to strengthen.
Find out more about our expertise by calling the team on 01282 871187.
Based in Herefordshire, Cobrey Farms is a specialist grower of a range of fruits and vegetables, such as asparagus, rhubarb, blueberries, potatoes and combinable crops.
Cobrey Farms has a long history in researching and developing new crops, alongside evolving techniques that enable them to meet consumer demands through the introduction of new ideas.
CoolingFX boasts over 25 years industry experience in commercial refrigeration solutions. The primary role of CoolingFX during this project was as the main contractor and installer of the equipment at Cobrey Farms.
HRP Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Supplier is a well established UK wholesaler with a diverse branch network across the country.
Their experts have extensive knowledge and expertise which enables them to point their customers in the right direction and support contractors with projects.