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May 3, 2017 Food Distribution & Cold Storage

How to Create More Cold Storage Space


On any given day, I am faced with copious challenges as a Project Manager for A M King. It might be maintaining thermal envelopes, steering clear of ongoing operations or being aware of preexisting conditions that may not match original drawings. But one issue that is surfacing more and more lately is the desire by clients for me to create temporary cold storage space or modify existing space to allow for growth and change.

One of our clients had 40,000-square feet of freezer space, but only 15,000-square feet of cooler space. The lack of cooler capacity became a problem as their cooler product line began growing exponentially. Even though we are working with the client on a longer-term expansion project, in the short term it was urgent that we convert an ice cream freezer (at -20 degrees) to a meat cooler (30 degrees) to make room for their new products. That’s a 50-degree difference!

The facility had to briefly give up some space entirely so we could convert the temperature in the ice cream cooler to a more meat-friendly climate. Since it was a temporary conversion, instead of crossing over the existing ice cream freezer to high-temp refrigeration, we left it on the low side. Then we utilized a hot gas defrost system to warm up the space and manually adjusted the pressure regulators to maintain temperature. That’s an inefficient way to bring the temperature up to the new operating standard, but it temporarily allowed us to minimize impact to their operations.

Whenever you have a big change in temperature, you are supposed to have a complete break (where the wall goes through roof). In this instance, two of four walls were interior that sit on the existing slab and only went up to the bottom of the metal deck. We had to verify and/or seal the wall to the roof structure and provide a thermal break in the floor slab to prevent any thermal transfer.

When companies are considering expanding cold storage space, they need to consider the cost-benefit of the project. The temporary expansion at this facility made sense in concert with the larger scale plan. But in other facilities the desire to quickly convert freezer or cooler space may cost more and may not be worth it. Sometimes we have to suggest the client just rent some temporary space while going through expansion. The benefits of working with a company like A M King is that the client doesn’t have to deal with a third party, transportation costs or the hassle of moving product. We are a turnkey operation that offers comprehensive design and construction services.

Carl Morse
Carl Morse
Carl Morse is Business Unit Leader at A M King, an integrated Design-Build firm serving the U.S. food distribution, food processing and industrial manufacturing industries. He headed up the Mission Produce project in Laredo, TX, which was completed earlier this fall.
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