Axiom Cloud Leak Detection
Sprouts Famers Market is one of the initial users of Axiom Cloud's Early Leak Detection system. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Littletung

Axiom Cloud Releases AI-Based Early Leak Detection Software, Tested at 242 Facilities

Sprouts, Grocery Outlet and HelloFresh are among initial users of the new software.

A new AI-based leak detection software system that provides early identification of refrigerant leaks has already been beta-tested by 242 grocery stores and cold-storage facilities, according to Amrit Robbins, CEO of San Jose, California-based Axiom Cloud, the software’s supplier.

The system, Early Leak Detection (ELD), is being released for commercial use in North America on August 31. It is one of five new software modules that Axiom is offering to replace its previous three apps, Facilities Analyzer, Virtual Technician and Virtual Battery, said Robbins. The other modules include Enterprise Visibility, Energy Efficiency, Predictive Maintenance and Demand Response.

The patent-pending ELD module is “much more comprehensive” than the leak-detection functionality used in the Facilities Analyzer app, Robbins noted, adding that the module leverages AI-powered algorithms instead of physical detectors to detect leaks earlier than most facilities do today. The module is available as part of the Axiom Cloud solution for a “low monthly subscription fee.” Bulk and bundling discounts are available.

The majority of Axiom’s 13 “enterprise” customers are currently subscribed to the ELD module and the other new systems, including Sprouts Farmers Market, Grocery Outlet and HelloFresh, Robbins said. “Some of our customers are still subscribed to the legacy apps from a contractual standpoint. We will likely transition existing customers to the new modules upon renewal in the coming years.” Last year, SproutsGrocery Outlet and HelloFresh reported using the legacy apps.

“I am more excited about our Early Leak Detection module than any other new technology we have introduced to the refrigeration industry yet”, said Robbins. “Across the 240-plus sites where it’s already operating today, the ELD module has proven it can increase Axiom Cloud’s greenhouse gas impact by over 10 times, which is incredibly motivating to me and the Axiom team. I’m excited to partner with the big grocery and cold storage companies to deploy ELD in thousands of facilities fast so we can realize these climate and financial benefits at scale soon.”

The ELD module is operating at facilities that use HFC and HCFC refrigerants and is still in beta testing for CO2 (R744), propane (R290) and ammonia (R717). The vast majority of grocery stores in the U.S. currently use f-gases, noted Robbins.

With the introduction of the ELD module, Axiom Cloud has been listed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as an Automatic Leak Detection (ALD) system, which enables facilities to avoid required quarterly or monthly manual leak checks while simultaneously lowering leak rates, Axiom said.

Axiom will be hosting a webinar at noon EDT on August 31 to explain the operation and benefits of the ELD module with City Building & Engineering (CBES), CoolSys and Therm. Information and registration for the webinar can be found here

Identifying leak indicators

The ELD module uses AI to identify primarily eight system-level changes in performance that are “leading indicators for a leak,” including superheat values, valve positions, component runtimes and enthalpy values, explained Robbins. The module can detect leaks anywhere in the refrigeration system, including cases, case groups or racks, providing notifications that often specify the location of the leak to enable “faster and more efficient service calls,” said Axiom.

Leaks have traditionally been found by tools such as refrigerant sniffers and receiver-level sensors when the refrigeration system “can no longer support cooling loads,” Robbins said. “This can lead to spoilage, downtime and loss of sales.” By contrast, the ELD module, he added, enables companies to catch leaks at an earlier stage – as soon as one to seven days after they start – “saving not only refrigerant costs, but potential outages.”

The ELD module’s software can be remotely deployed across thousands of sites quickly, Robbins said. It does not require receiver-level sensors or refrigerant sniffers to work, but these can be incorporated “if the sensors are installed and are functioning properly and properly calibrated.”

Sprouts case study

Axiom Cloud released a case study featuring the application of the ELD module at a Sprouts Farmers Market store near Sacramento, California. The ELD module detected back-to-back leaks within seven days in July, avoiding two emergency cooling outages, preventing approximately 300lbs (136kg) of R404A refrigerant and saving the facility approximately $9,600 (€8,881) in refrigerant costs and 1.2 million lbs (0.54 million kg) of CO2e emissions.

“Without Axiom’s support, we would have lost hundreds of pounds of refrigerant and experienced a critical cooling outage within 24 hours,” said a Sprouts service manager, “and it happened twice in a week!”

According to the case study, no receiver level alarms were triggered by the first leak, and the store’s leak detector was out of calibration and was being ignored. The ELD module confirmed the leak less than two days after it started, opening an urgent work order. A technician repaired a leaky rack compressor fitting at the site a few hours later, adding 50lbs (22.7kg) of gas but avoiding a storewide cooling outage and about 200lbs (90.7kg) of leaked gas.

However, the leak was only temporarily resolved. Seven days later, the ELD module identified another significant leak on the same rack, and a technician went onsite later that day. The technician tightened up the fittings on the rack and resolved the leak, preventing another storewide cooling outage and about 100lbs (45.4kg) of leaked gas.

“Without Axiom’s support, we would have lost hundreds of pounds of refrigerant and experienced a critical cooling outage within 24 hours.”

A Sprouts Farmers Market service manager

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