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Staying cool in a crisis

31 October 2016

Food Processing looks at a variety of cooling solutions for the food sector. 

Food manufacturers are continually pushing their systems to maximise production capacity and the effect of a heat exchange failure can result in production lines shutting down. Heat exchangers are prone to fouling or corrosion problems, which can develop gradually or spring up without warning. Complete replacement of a heat exchanger can take some months. 

Fouled heat exchangers can also limit the operations of a process unit operation and can reduce efficiencies due to cooling limitations during warmer weather or because dry coolers using warm ambient air become less effective. Any of these common problems can force a plant to reduce plant/unit rates, product quality or exceed permitted environmental limits, risking significant fines.  

Aggreko, a supplier of mobile power generation and temperature control equipment, is now offering a heat exchanger hire service, to help prevent downtime and lost production in the event of a heat exchanger failure. “Anywhere where there is a process involving a heat exchanger and an issue in terms of it fouling or failing, we can provide a rental solution, and has the capability to rapidly deliver exactly what the customer needs,” said Chris Smith, head of temperature control, northern Europe at Aggreko. 

The company also offers a disaster recovery service. An engineer will survey a customer plant and identify the consequences of heat exchanger failure and the temporary solution needed to get the process back up and running as quickly as possible. “Our contingency planning service means that if something goes wrong, we already understand the technology in detail, so can implement a temporary fix quickly while a long-term solution is found,” continued Smith. “For the manufacturer, this level of proactive planning can mean reductions in insurance premiums over time as it demonstrates they are doing everything they can to avoid a production shutdown.”

Heat exchangers form part of most food and beverage cooling plants to and if an element of this system needs repair, maintenance or replacement, then a complete rental package may be needed to ensure that production is unaffected by the failure. For one customer, a milk processing site, this service has been invaluable. When one of its three permanent chillers, which provides chilled ice water at 1ºC for the entire plant broke down Aggreko was able to install five 800 kW chillers and delivered a complete temperature control package, including five 1.5 MW heat exchangers, three-way valves, pumps and buffer tanks. This rented equipment was able to handle the plants entire process cooling requirements while it exchanged the faulty chiller, ensuring there was no break in production.

Five J & E Hall Fusion Commercial Condensing Units have been installed in Bradford at Delifresh, a specialist supplier of fresh produce and delicatessen products to the catering industry. The company works with hotels and restaurants throughout the north of England and is passionate about the quality of its products.

Condensing solution 
Cooling equipment for a new Delifresh premises in Bradford was specified and installed by GRS Refrigeration. The facility, which is constructed from highly insulated panels, presented some interesting challenges which requiring a creative engineering solution. With a total of more than 8500m3 of cooled spaces, each of five separate food-handling areas at the facility had their own individual temperature requirements. 

Andrew Pinder, contracts manager at GRS Refrigeration, explains: “The total project cost for the new site was in the region of £3 million but with reasonably modest cooling technology costs of around £150,000 we needed to be able to compete with the industry’s big names. Price isn’t everything, of course. The equipment has to work. We are confident that J & E Hall equipment meets our criteria.” 

The project for Delifresh called for a number of units to be installed to achieve the correct temperature requirements for cooled areas of differing sizes. Installed indoors were two 8.25-horsepower units for a 10.4m x 6.3m -20°C freezer. Two 10-horsepower units were installed outdoors for a 30.7m x 12.8m pre-pack area together with a single three horsepower unit for a smaller chilled store. 

J & E Hall offers a range of medium and low temperature reciprocating and scroll-housed commercial condensing units using R404a. Medium temperature scroll condensing units qualify for Enhanced Capital Allowance. This Government scheme allows tax relief for businesses investing in energy efficient projects. The acoustically-lined Fusion range houses a reciprocating compressor which is fitted with a compressor jacket to further reduce noise. “Although the area around the site is not particularly residential, and there is a major road running alongside, we were conscious not to add significantly to the noise levels,” continued Pinder. “The J & E Hall Fusion units have inbuilt sound insulation for the cabinet and the compressors, so are particularly quiet, with the loudest of them being no more than 42 Db(A), even at full load. 

“Another benefit of the Fusion range is the blue anti-corrosion coating on the condenser fins which comes as standard, giving increased resistance to any corrosive elements that may be present in the atmosphere. In the long term this will extend the working life of the equipment but in normal use it also helps to improve condenser efficiency.”

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