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The Tshwane Fresh Produce Market sells on average about R15 million in produce every day. Banana sales account for 11% of this figure, and around 1.3 million kilograms of bananas are processed weekly by the state-of-the-art banana ripening facility at the market.

Tshwane Fresh Produce Market chooses York chillersThis facility is responsible for distribution of bananas to sales outlets nationally and in Africa. To drive this process reliably, the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market selected Johnson Controls’ York YVWA chillers.

“The Banana Ripening Centre provides a critical service to farmers, acting as a staging facility and platform for banana sales. Our highest priority is ensuring 24x7 uninterrupted service. Maintaining a constantly chilled environment to ensure staged ripening of the fruit is crucial. With growing volumes of produce moving through the market—turnover reached R3 billion in the 2016/17 financial year—this contributed to the need to upgrade our aging banana cooling equipment. We chose the Johnson Controls York YVWA chillers for their reliability, ease of control, as well as their potential to drive operational savings,” says Francois Knowles, Deputy Director: Commercial Services at the Centre.

“We source bananas from across South Africa and Africa, reaching as far as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The bananas arrive green, are palletised and stored in one of our 55 ripening chambers. Market agents at the market act on behalf of the farmers, securing sales from wholesalers and retailers. Collection and distribution of the bananas are synchronised with our six-day ripening process, ensuring the produce reaches its destination at the right level of ripeness for optimal retail sales.”

The ripening process relies on three factors: Keeping the temperature at 13 to 14 degrees C, ensuring the correct air flow or circulation through the ripening chambers, and the release of ethylene gas at the right time to initiate the ripening process. Each ripening chamber can accommodate thirty pallets.

Sensors in the chambers constantly measure environmental temperature and communicate with the chillers, driving outputs to keep the chambers at the right temperature. A fan coil unit at the back of the facility circulates cool air through the chamber. The ripening process takes place over six days.

Two York water-cooled screw type YVWA chillers with variable speed drives (VSDs) were selected to replace the four chillers at the Centre that have reached end of life. The use of VSDs on chiller compressors can cut energy use by up to 30% per annum while maintaining operating reliably over a wide range of conditions.

At part load, when cooling capacity can be reduced, a VSD chiller inherently uses less energy than a constant speed chiller as the compressor speed can be reduced to more closely match the load. At low-lift conditions, when ambient temperature conditions are cooler than design, even greater energy savings can be realised if a VSD is employed, according to Russell Hattingh, Engineering Manager at Johnson Controls Systems and Service.

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