Embraco delivers super sustainable compressors and more.
Since 1971, Embraco has been specializing in domestic and commercial refrigeration solutions. The global company has offices in Brazil—where it’s headquartered—as well as in the U.S., Mexico, Italy, Slovakia, and China, producing more than 30 million units a year. Inspiring research and development with an emphasis on sustainability is a core part of what this world leader in compressors does.
“Embraco has a mission to improve people’s quality of life,” says Daniel Campos, business director. “Every year Embraco invests 3 to 4% of our revenues on research and development.”
For more than three decades, Embraco has continuously invested in r&d. It now has more than 40 laboratories with 400 professionals working in this area, plus partnerships with universities and research institutes across the globe. The company has 1,030 patents worldwide.
A More Efficient [Super] Market
Many of Embraco’s compressors are making a difference in the world of food retail, Campos says, as the company is responsible for one-fifth of the world’s general food preservation and one-third of commercial applications.
Products like Embraco’s Plug N’ Cool are changing the game when it comes to efficient food storage—especially in supermarkets. You likely get your frozen food items from tall rows of freezers, but what you probably don’t realize is those aren’t particularly mobile. “They have pipes and they have some remote system outside of the supermarket. To have this kind of system, you don’t have flexibility because you need to have this equipment in one place. Once you have the pipes below the floor, you’re not able to move,” Campos says. But think about today’s supermarkets—they’re frequently redesigning and changing flow for customers. Even if a store doesn’t redesign, equipment owners have to recharge the gas in the freezers at least once a year, Campos says. The Plug N’ Cool makes movement or adjustments easy, as it was designed as a drop-in solution for reach-in coolers.
The Plug N’ Cool simplifies installation and eliminates the need for a machine room, allowing cooling system engineers to have faster time to market. And, of course, the modular design allows flexibility for grocery store layout and easier maintenance. The Plug N’ Cool also uses natural refrigerant R-290. Because it’s self-contained, Plug N’ Cool has negligible leakage rates. It’s already being rolled out across Europe and Brazil, and Embraco is talking with several major U.S. supermarket brands.
Embraco’s conversations with building owners center around the benefits of changing to a more efficient compressor. “Some brands are not responsible for paying the energy bill so they don’t care,” Campos says. But, when the person who does pay the energy bill finds out that one brand and their refrigerators are consuming more energy than an alternative, they often want to switch to the cheaper option.
Using the Plug N’ Cool is as easy as the name sounds. With it, you don’t need pipes. “The entire refrigeration system is inside of this block (below). You put it on top of the refrigerator and one piece of equipment is able to work across two or three doors.” If, for any reason, the system fails, all you have to do is release four screws to replace the part. Installation takes five days, compared to 15 with a remote system. You can essentially just drop in the Plug N’Cool and go.
The return on investment is also of note, says Marek Zgliczynski, director research fellow of research and development. While electronic products like the Plug N’ Cool may be a bit more expensive upfront, you get what you pay for. The returns are there, no matter the compressor you choose. “With the mid-size compressor, in one year you’ll return all your money,” Zgliczynski says. Add to that the trend of smaller, localized grocery stores, and he says products like the Plug N’Cool are a no-brainer. It’s already happening in Europe. “I think the rest of the world will follow, because again, if we want to make this world green, we have to reduce emissions,” he says.
Even More Sustainable Products
Embraco also recently showed off products like its FMXA6C Fullmotion Compressor and the new FMFT Bivoltage Fullmotion Compressor. Campos says Embraco’s Fullmotion compressor sees 30-35% energy reduction compared to competitors. Combine that with the natural refrigerant it uses, and you’ll get about another 10-20% energy savings.
The Fullmotion Compressor provides better temperature control, produces low noise levels, operates on a wider voltage range, and is designed to be used with natural refrigerant R600a.
As for the FMFT Bivoltage compressor, it’s one of the most efficient compressors available for the light commercial segment. Its variable speed technology allows the refrigerator to have better temperature control, improving food preservation. A traditional single-speed compressor always operates at maximum speed, which can waste energy if only a low-cooling capacity is needed most of the time. The FMFT is able to operate at a broader range of speeds, allowing it to reach target temperatures more efficiently. This can help reduce energy consumption by up to 30%, compared to the traditional solutions available in the market. It’s ideal for ultra-low temperature refrigerators, reach-in coolers and freezers, wine coolers, vending machines, ice cream machines, and medical applications, and it works with natural refrigerant R-290.
Using Natural Refrigerants
A lot of Embraco’s r&d centers around more natural refrigerants. Campos says 98%, if not all, of its products use natural refrigerants currently. “Embraco’s not the company that will compete on low standard compressors. We are always focused on the top efficient ones,” he says.
Embraco was using natural refrigerants more than 20 years ago—long before almost anyone else, Campos says. Zgliczynski has been in the field for nearly 40 years, and for more than two decades he’s been at the forefront of natural refrigerants. His journey began in 1993, first working with Liebherr. “We launched the first isobutane compressor for house refrigeration. It was the first tabletop with isobutane on the market.”
Zgliczynski has long been a part of committees working on safety standards for refrigeration, and he’s now the chairman of the main global committee that sets those rules. “You have to try to influence the legislation,” he says, adding that it’s important to allow for higher recharge limits for propane in the commercial business.
Campos says Embraco is also focused on reducing the size of the compressor in general. “Based on the gas changes, we are able to redesign the system and the motors to reduce the amount of raw materials we have inside of the compressor to deliver even more efficiency with a smaller compressor.”
More Sustainable Efforts
In 2014, Embraco launched a program in Brazil called Nat.Genius, which emphasizes recycling and reverse logistics. “In the last three years, Nat.Genius recycled 20,000 tons of materials—13,700 tons of steel; 4,800 tons of iron; and more than 420 tons of plastic, Campos says. “The numbers are overwhelming and prove the importance of the program, which has become a world reference recognized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.” The program is currently in Brazil, with plans to expand globally.
Since 2004, EMBRACO Brazil has participated in Global Pact, a United Nations initiative for businesses committed to aligning their operations with 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. In 2008, Embraco Slovakia became a participant, too. Embraco also regularly publishes sustainability reports to detail its efforts and progress.
Embraco has the capacity to produce 37 million compressors per year
Embraco has been in operation for 40 years
9,600 employees in 6 countries
500 engineers and technicians