New tool for wineries to tackle refrigeration costs

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has released its latest tool for wineries seeking to cut costs and improve their refrigeration and energy usage.

The AWRI Refrigeration Demand Calculator is a spreadsheet-based software tool, for analysing and managing winery refrigeration demand.

AWRI Manager – Industry Engagement and Application, Peter Godden said the need for such a tool was first identified and developed by Dr Richard Muhlack in 2012 as part of the AWRI’s Riverina Regional Node key priorities.

“It was also clear from the start that Riverina wineries aren’t alone in the need to improve the financial bottom lines or in seeking ways to improve refrigeration costs and energy use… so while the project was initiated from a regional priority its much broader application for the whole industry was evident from the beginning,” Mr Godden said.

“It’s taken considerable work to get the software and application right –but the early feedback we’re receiving and the results we saw during validation show the calculator has the potential to definitely help cut costs and improve refrigeration for many wineries.”

Mr Godden said the calculator allows wineries to enter in a range of production data and grape intake to simulate refrigeration demand across their entire production cycle.

“Users are also able to assess the effect of factors such as cellar storage, cold stabilisation temperatures, fermentation conditions, climate, brine temperature, tank size and insulation on their refrigeration demand and energy costs,” he said.

Three wineries in the Riverina and three in Hunter Valley, through the AWRI’s regional nodes, helped the AWRI team to validate and test the calculator.

“When we first started to test the calculator only one of the six wineries actually had a dedicated power meter in their winery to record electricity usage and peak demand times,” he said.

“Not knowing your electricity or refrigeration usage often means you can’t fully identify problems or the areas where easy efficiencies can be found. If you can’t measure your performance, then you have no way of assessing if you have improved, or if any changes you make actually lead to greater efficiency. The new calculator allows you to measure your improvements. “

“The AWRI has developed a large amount of resources and best practice advice in this area – but not taking that initial step to investigate or analyse usage means it’s difficult to know what questions to ask to get the right answers and advice.”

The AWRI has also hosted a webinar and several workshops across Australia to explain and introduce the new calculator since its launch earlier this year.

“Eventually, and in line with feedback we’ve already received, we’d like to see the software platform improved so it can be used on a web-based platform and integrated with the full range of current mobile devices.”

The AWRI Refrigeration Demand Calculator is funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority and can be downloaded from the AWRI website at: http://www.awri.com.au/industry_support/winemaking_resources/refrigeration-demand-calculator/ (login required, request login at: http://www.awri.com.au/subscribe). Any queries about the calculator can be directed to Peter Godden on 08 8313 6600 or peter.godden@awri.com.au.

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