Latest News

  • August 4, 2014

    Maximize Preventative Maintenance

    Modern Technology for Preventative Maintenance

    What has relatively recent technology given facility managers and operators new tools and improvements concerning their industrial refrigeration systems?  I can think of many ways but in this report we will focus on non-destructive and preventative maintenance technologies that have been developed or have had their costs lowered over the recent decades.  These technologies can allow you to take action sooner and with more accurate information as well as likely lower system costs over time.

    Vibration Analysis

    This is a non-destructive method of determining bearing faults, misalignment, worn components, oil overfeeding (for screws), etc...  It allows us to extend the life of equipment by identifying problems before they spread or damage other components.  By investing a small amount with routine vibration analysis (roughly twice a year) we are typically able to save many times over in rebuild or replacement costs.  For instance, instead of only relying on run hours for replacement or rebuild, the equipment may be able to operate without a rebuild for many times the standard interval.  Keep in mind that vibration analysis typically takes at least two or more data collections to properly determine faults.  Occasionally the first collection, commonly called the baseline, will identify major faults such as misalignment but usually it’s the increasing severity that accurately provides guidance.  One point to make from discussing vibration analysis with a few facility managers: it is not just for screw compressors and motors but vibration analysis is also useful with reciprocating compressors and other types of compressors, even pumps when they are large enough to justify it.

    Oil Analysis

    Similar to the life of components and vibration analysis, instead of replacing the oil at a scheduled interval, oil analysis commonly allows us to wait much longer to take action.  An example that most or all of us would be familiar: replacing the oil and filter in your car every 3,000 miles (or something higher like 5,000 or 7,500 miles with full synthetic oil).  Instead of a standard car oil change costing about $30, changing the oil in a screw compressor can cost thousands of dollars.  Rather than just letting the compressor run until the poor oil quality damages the compressor, performing oil analysis tells us when it should be changed.  Clearly, oil analysis appears to be a wise investment considering the frequency of oil changes can be reduced.  Finally, in addition to possibly increasing the oil change interval, the analysis will also include wear metals which can show problems with compressor components as well as indicate the number of particles at various sizes which typically relates to the effectiveness of the oil filter.

    Non-Destructive Analysis

    Although we can visually inspect pipe for external corrosion and paint wear, we can’t see corrosion under insulation or, uncommon for industrial systems, internal corrosion / erosion.  The lower cost method is ultrasound testing.  This involves removing insulation, cleaning the pipe of rust, then determining the pipe thickness.  If the insulation was in reasonable condition before removal, it can be re-installed with a fresh vapor retarder applied. By checking many locations including the pipes most prone to pitting (think defrost relief or defrost condensate, warmer suction pipes, chilled high pressure liquid pipes, and locations that cycle in temperature) or where the vapor retarder is poor, an overall assessment is usually made in addition to the exact reading found at tested locations.  Although a few times more expensive, x-ray technologies allow a scan of all insulated pipes without insulation removal and a more thorough assessment of the pipe condition.  Either of these non-destructive methods will allow you to determine if pipe needs to be replaced and if your insulation vapor retarder is holding up well.  Rather than being used for pipe degradation, infrared scanning finds loose or poor electrical connections and terminations.  It creates a picture of temperatures which can show hot areas and arcing.  By catching these issues early, a correction can be made before your electrical panel looks like that burnt meal you forgot was still in the kitchen stove.

    Jay Voissem, P.E., CIRO
    Industrial Refrigeration Technical College

  • March 26, 2014

    IRTC instructor Jay Voissem featured in "Realm Without Limits" series from Woodberry Forest Magazine

    Jay VoissemFast-frozen foods seemed a marvel, way back in the first half of the twentieth century. Now, as Jay Voissem '99 sees it, we pretty much take them for granted. We don't think about how foods in the supermarket freezer got there. Many delecacies on our restaurant table had to be chilled even before they were transported - but again, to us, that's nice, but no big deal.

    To Jay, a mechanical engineer specializing in refrigeration, these everyday miracles are the stuff of never-ending study and evolution. At Innovative Refrigeration Systems, in Lyndhurst, Virginia, Jay fills a variety of roles in designing and building refrigeration installations for companies throughout North America - to freeze a harvest, cool bananas, bring pasteurized milk down to proper temperature, help brew beer, make ice cream. Inventor Clarence Birdseye figured out how to freeze and package fish in 1924, but the industry is still changing, often in radical ways...

    Read Full Article Here

  • February 1, 2014

    Introducing Hands-On CO2 Refrigeration Lab

    Industrial Refrigeration Technical College announces the opening of the CO2 lab coming in first quarter 2014. The first CO2 refrigeration course will be held Feb 26th - 28th. This class will provide a basic understanding of CO2 refrigeration systems. It gives a broad introduction of the fundamental knowledge required to work on Carbon Dioxide Systems. The course encompasses specific properties of CO2, safety, design, installation and maintenance. It also includes the advantages of using CO2, and the functionality of different types of refrigeration systems: Cascade systems using ammonia or other refrigerant as the high temperature condensing medium, Transcritical, pumped liquid recirculation, secondary coolant and direct expansion.

  • August 8, 2011

    Industrial Refrigeration Technical College offers New Energy Management Application

    Industrial Refrigeration Technical College (IRTC), a high-tech, industrial ammonia refrigeration training facility, is pleased to offer eConserve, an Internet-based energy management system designed to help companies achieve energy efficiency and cost-reduction. This energy monitoring and analyzing suite allows administrators to control their energy usage. Features of eConserve include monthly utility bill tracking and analysis; web-based real-time metering; energy consumption trending reports; and benchmarking. “Energy conservation is a huge issue right now, with companies trying to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as reduce their energy costs,” said Ken Johnson, Instructor, IRTC. “Our Instructors can analyze the data collected through eConserve and recommend courses of action, perform tune-ups, and compare an operation to others using the program.” Industrial Refrigeration Technical College (IRTC) is the top ammonia refrigeration education facility in the nation. IRTC offers educational opportunities for aspiring ammonia refrigeration technicians, as well as current technicians and operators through a combination of classroom and hands-on, real-life training in our state-of-the-art training facility. IRTC is a RETA-certified testing center. To learn more about IRTC, please call 540.941.1991 or visit us online at