Title
An Improved Drinks Cooler
Improved Reliability and Feature Enhancements Provide New Market Opportunities
Technologies used

Microcontroller

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    31 Electrical System Manufacturers
    29 :Non-Domestic Cooling and Ventilation Equipment
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment
Abstract
Quest Refrigeration is a small, twenty-year-old company specialising in the design and manufacture of drinks cooler display equipment for the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors. The company employs 149 employees, and in 1999 achieved sales of approximately 13 MECU.

The company manufactures a range of drinks cooling and display equipment and these current products use electro-mechanical temperature controls. The technology applied in these systems limits the flexibility of the control unit, and offers very limited performance. The use of the electro-mechanical thermostatic control units therefore, prevents product differentiation, limits sales development potential, and produces temperature regulation performance that often exceeds the desired range of customers.

The objective of the application experiment was to (i) introduce improved temperature regulation accuracy and to provide temperature display features for commercial customers requiring better control over the dispensing of their products, (ii) to provide improved performance in higher humidity environments to assist in developing new export markets, and (iii) to reduce product set up and servicing costs.

The application of microcontroller technology has produced the following product improvements:
* Improved accuracy of temperature control, by providing a reduction in the temperature control differential compared to current sensing and control technology solutions.
* Integrate an automatic defrost cycle into the control system to provide enhanced automatic defrost performance.
* Improved product reliability, incorporating system self-diagnostic facilities and algorithms to detect if the cooling system performance is reduced to a level requiring servicing.
* The provision of in-range or temperature display information, and to differentiate the product from competitor products.
* Reduced service costs.
* Energy savings due to the improved temperature regulation and recognition of system malfunctioning.
* Improved programming mechanisms to prevent unauthorised reprogramming of the control unit, and to utilise smart card technology to configure the system during production.

These additional product features provide new customer benefits and product differentiation features that improve Quest Refrigeration's market competitiveness. The ability of the equipment to operate in high humidity environments also allows the company to develop new markets for the product in the Far East, South Africa and India.

The application experiment was completed in 10 months, and cost 41 KECU to complete. The payback period for the application experiment will be 6 months, and the return on investment is 850 %.

Following the application experiment, Quest Refrigeration are now capable of undertaking the incremental design of the improved product for other applications, and the manufacture of the new product.
Company
Quest Refrigeration Manufacturing Ltd.
Aber Park,
Flint,
Flintshire,
CH6 5EX,
U.K

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Microcontroller technology provided Quest Refrigeration Manufacturing Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.


Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom