HOW DOES a public refrigerated warehousing (PRW) operation keep the cold air in and the warm air out? We began to answer that question last month, when the focus was on better construction materials, specifically better insulated walls and moisture barriers. This month, technology takes the stage.
Not that long ago in warehousing, doors to temperature-controlled compartments mostly were aided by visible “air curtains.” These curtains, made from long strips of thick vinyl, are hung from the top of a door frame and extend to the floor. Still in use by some PRW companies, these curtains serve as pass-through doors and air barriers when the primary doors have to be kept open for long periods for product delivery and retrieval.
Today, the newest air curtains are invisible “air dams” — walls of air created by computer-controlled super fans. Their purpose, like the strip air curtains, is to prevent cold air escape and warm air intrusion — and to do it more efficiently. When the freezer doors are opened to forklift drivers, the super fans come on. Aided by motion-detecting electric eyes, the freezer doors close automatically after a few minutes of inactivity and the fans shut off.
In addition, modern refrigeration operations make extensive use of digital sensors that monitor temperatures, refrigerant pressures, and other critical functions. The sensors are tied to a central “brain” that makes equipment adjustments automatically, eliminating the need for a lot of on-site review and manual adjustments. Emergency shutdown procedures are programmed into the main sensor computer, which can be checked remotely by smartphone and tapped for data if a paper trail of activity becomes necessary.
This is all state-of-art technology, and those of us in refrigerated warehousing are happy some very smart people came up with it.
This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage.
column by BEN ADAMS, JR.
BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.