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Product storage

Prior to the invention of the type of refrigeration systems we use today, fresh produce was stored in ice houses and used ice harvested during the winter months to keep perishable goods cool for the majority of the year. Cold storage has come a long way since then and the majority of cold storage facilities use modern vapour compression systems to maintain the desired store temperature. It’s not only food that requires temperature-controlled storage.

JD Cooling has installed cooling systems for the cold storage of composites used in motorsport and aerospace industries. Mechanically engineered products, which are manufactured to specific tolerance, including your fresh prepared sandwiches from the petrol station, all need to be stored in temperature-controlled environments.

JD Cooling will design, install, commission and maintain refrigeration systems to maintain product temperatures from -35°C to +35°C using the most cost effective and energy efficient components.

Long term storage

The method of long-term storage provides optimal storage for root crops such as swede, carrots and potatoes. In addition, this type of storage can be used to provide extended storage time for brassicas and top fruit such as apples and pears, as well as other fresh produce. The aim – to maximise the storage life, shelf life and freshness of the product.

Passive Up Flow (PUF) is a unique cooling process that allows fresh produce to be cooled with minimal air movement.  This method of cooling provides ultra-stable temperature and humidity, minimising any moisture loss from the produce.  The PUF cooling process has been designed to provide optimal long-term product storage.

Ultra-stable temperature and humidity is the key to providing optimal crop storage conditions.  When using air as the cooling medium the cooling process removes moisture from the air (which forms as condensation on the cooling coils).  In turn the products within the store will lose moisture until an equilibrium is reached between the moisture level of the air and the product.  Keeping the temperature of the air as close to the temperature of product minimises moisture losses.

Controlled Atmosphere (CA) stores prolong the storage of fresh produce like apples, onions, cabbages and grapes. They do this by vastly reducing oxygen levels whilst also controlling levels of CO2 and sometimes ethylene. In conjunction with temperature and humidity control this allows fresh produce to be held in storage for up to 12 months. JD Cooling has a high level of expertise in the provision of CA storage.

JD Cooling have delivered a number of energy efficiency benefits to our customers by using our experience and skills to apply the very best solutions to any application – including our very own innovative heat recovery system for ripening. A great stride towards making such systems feasible has been the move towards central glycol cooling systems. Traditionally large factories, packhouses and storage complexes would have applied multiple individual systems to serve the various areas across a site. This meant that the huge amount of heat being rejected by the cooling systems was spread out across a wide area and therefore difficult to harness into any common heat recovery system.  The centralised nature of a glycol system means that heat can now be recovered from one central location at the main glycol chiller plantroom. This greatly increases the feasibility of integrating heat recovery systems to a site, offering very attractive pay-backs for the investment through reduced utility bills and lower overall service and maintenance costs.

Mid-term storage

Fresh produce in particular keeps fresh longer when stored at lower temperatures, which are typically between +0.5°C and +5°C. For JD Cooling, the ‘mid-term’ fresh produce store is one of the most common projects and would be used to store produce for more than a day but less than a month.  Chilled distribution or finished goods would also be held in mid-term storage prior to passing into despatch. Mid-term storage is not limited to fresh produce but would also be used in the frozen food sector.

Conventional cooling systems using a primary refrigerant to cooling air within a store is a cost-effective method of providing product storage.  The key to success with conventional storage is developing an efficient, balanced system that is sympathetic to the products being stored.  Subtle differences in system design can provide invaluable across the lifetime of the store.

Short-term storage

The purpose of a short-term temperature controlled room would vary depending on the process, however in most cases, forms part of the cold chain transit process. A Work In Progress (WIP) chill store and despatch store are good examples of this where the product turnover is very fast, typically in and out of the store in less than 12 hours.

Intake stores are often the first point of temperature reduction for the product.  In many instances Intake areas can be heavy traffic areas, busy with personnel and product moving equipment along with lots of door openings and subsequent air changes.  All these factors can require significant amounts of cooling which can lead to early dehydration of the product.  Careful design is required to ensure that product quality is maintained, and that the area is comfortable for personnel to work in.

WIP Chill stores are used to provide short term storage during the production process.  These stores are typically designed for quick turnaround of product.  Product type influences the temperatures and air movement rates.

Despatch Areas are the last point before products are shipped out. Typically Despatch areas can be heavy traffic areas, busy with personnel and product moving equipment along with lots of door openings and subsequent air changes.  Often product enters at the correct temperature allowing the design of the cooling system to be to maintain temperatures with reduced air velocities to keep the working area comfortable for personnel.

Low temperature

In its simplest term a low temperature chill store is a freezer. We consider any store below -5°C to be low temperature. The construction of a low temperature store requires a different specification that of a medium or high temperature store. We would need to consider defrosting of the cooling coils as well as protecting the surrounding environment from frost or freezing, which could involve auxiliary heating or extra insulation depending on the location, temperature and use of the store.

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