We recently sat down to speak with Steve Lowry from The Master Group and his client, Shawn Robinson of Shawn Robinson Refrigeration to talk about a unique use of KeepRite Refrigeration products — a walk-in mobile freezer/cooler unit that’s cold and quiet!
KeepRite Refrigeration: Steve, How did you hear about this innovative cooler trailer project?
Steve: Shawn already had a shipping container that he transformed into a cooler so the idea is not entirely new. He supplies the shipping container cooler to a few of the local stores whenever they are having specials and need additional cooler capacity.
Shawn is involved in his community and he volunteers each year to help run the Navan Fair. The shipping container has some drawbacks and Shawn thought he could improve on the first generation design to create a more efficient and effective cooler/freezer for the local fair and other area clients.
KeepRite Refrigeration: What were the design challenges for this project?
Steve: We had to find a solution for the condensing unit. The evaporator and the cooler box were pretty straightforward but we needed to find a condenser solution that traveled well — one that didn’t bang around going down the road. Our timing was good, as KeepRite Refrigeration had recently announced the little scroll KQ Condensing Unit, the ultra quiet model. We felt the scroll compressor would travel well on the road and the new, quieter condenser would be perfect for our needs.
KeepRite Refrigeration: How important is having a Quiet Unit in this application?
Shawn: It was very important. In fact, it was the main reason we went with the KQ unit. When we have the cooler trailer on a noisy job site, it’s not a big issue because noise is irrelevant. But in other settings like the Navan Fair for instance, the noise level is a big issue. We did a backyard wedding and so the cooler was placed very close to the food tent. You don’t want to hear a loud condensing unit when you’re serving food or drinks.
KeepRite Refrigeration: Are you satisfied that this is a decent solution with positive results?
Shawn: I’m very happy with the results for two reasons. The first reason is that the KQ unit provides ultra quiet operation. The second reason is the size; it’s nice and compact. If you look at a normal KEHA or KEZA, the comparable physical size of the KQ is about half which made it that much easier to mount on the tongue of the trailer.
KeepRite Refrigeration: I understand that the wheels can be removed from the unit?
Shawn: Yes the wheels do come off. The problem with a reefer truck is that the door is approximately four feet off the ground. Even a shipping container, you’re approximately eight inches off the ground and can’t leave a ramp on all the time. The wheels also come off for safety and security reasons. We welded 5 jacks to the trailer so we can jack it up, remove the wheels and lower it down so the axles just are about to touch the ground. It makes it more convenient, you don’t need a railing and you can roll a cart up the ramp and back out. It’s much safer and having it on 5 jacks gives it more stability then leaving it on wheels. By having the wheels off also decreases the chances of the trailer being stolen.
KeepRite Refrigeration: Shawn, how confident were you in investing in this project?
Shawn: Pretty confident. We knew that there was going to be a demand for it and last summer it was out from the day we built it until Christmas time. The last few weeks I’ve received 4-5 calls to rent it for summer events. I have a feeling this year it will be gone for another 3-4 months.
KeepRite Refrigeration: How does the unit switch from cooler to freezer?”
Shawn: We wired the controls so it can run as a cooler or as freezer with a flick of a switch.
KeepRite Refrigeration: How is the unit powered, can it run off a generator?
Steve: The unit is powered by electricity, and yes it can run on a generator. The power hook up is a generator twist lock plug (30amps 220volt with a neutral) which feeds a breaker panel. We have circuit breakers for the condensing unit, evaporator, controls, lights, door heater and the drain line heater. The mobile cooler/freezer is pre-wired and ESA approved, all one has to do is plug it in and flick the switch either to cooler or freezer mode.
KeepRite Refrigeration: Have you found any other interesting uses for the trailer?
Shawn: Along with the weddings and the fair last year, we supplied the trailer to the Queensway Carleton Hospital. They did a big renovation in the kitchen and needed some where to store their frozen food. They weren’t able to have a reefer in because of the location and also (because) it had to be able to operate on electricity because of its proximity to the hospital.
KeepRite Refrigeration: If you were to this again, what would you differently?
Shawn: We don’t need to change anything. For this small unit, the design is perfect. However, if we were going to make another unit I would make it a combination box so we would have a freezer and cooler side by side. Right now its either runs as a cooler or freezer but as a combo box we could run both at the same time.
KeepRite Refrigeration: So it’s clear that that the technology behind the KeepRite Refrigeration Quiet Unit has made this project shine. What is the marketing and promotional plan for the Quiet Unit line?
Steve: The Quiet Unit has only been around a couple of years. It’s basically a new product for KeepRite Refrigeration. We’re introducing the product to clients like some of the smaller stores and gas stations in the higher end residential areas where you want it as quiet a unit as possible.
You don’t want to disturb the neighbours. Some of the equipment out there is very noisy. If your apartment building is beside the store and you’re 3 floors up, you’re looking right at the top of the roof of the store and all you hear is the equipment running. There are many areas with a decibel restriction now and the Quit Unit will help stores stay compliant. The other advantage is the small size. I can mount this unit on the side of a wall and it looks like a residential air conditioner. The public doesn’t know the difference and the client gets commercial grade cooling in a small form factor.
KeepRite Refrigeration: And finally, a question to both of you, why chose KeepRite Refrigeration components for this project?
Shawn: We’ve been dealing with Steve (Le Groupe Master) since the mid 90′ and we have a good track record with Keeprite Refrigeration. We use their products on a regular basis. We use the standard series KEHA, KESA, or the KEZA series. We’ve had minimal issues in the past. Keeprite Refrigerations products are reliable and that’s a big thing for us. Either if we are renting our cooler/freezer or installing a new refrigeration system for a customer we don’t want any breakdowns due to manufactures defects.
Steve: Reliability, service… the quality is there. And Shawn has been the buying KeepRite Refrigeration products through us for at least 10-12 years and the amount of callbacks and issues we have received are very very minimal.
Shawn: Any problems we have had have been dealt with right away; KeepRite Refrigeration is very good for that. Our after-sales service is good. They look after us very well and we have had very few issues so it’s easy to promote a product like that.
Shawn Robinson Refrigeration:
Steve Lowry – The Master Group