In this case study we helped a long-term client to maximise use of space and equipment for best efficiency during a long-term phased factory expansion project.
We had already completed a series of significant design and build works for our client PK Foods as part of an ongoing phased factory expansion. In line with anticipated factory growth, the overall project design had allowed for the introduction of a new production area in Phase 3, where a range of Indian food would be produced, including curried ready meals, pakoras and bhaji.
Key Fact: What is a Blast Chiller?
Also referred to as flash freezers/blast freezers, a blast chiller allows the rapid lowering of food temperature. Commonly used in food production processes where food is cooked at high temperature before packaging/transportation they are able to inhibit the growth of bacteria and better seal in nutrients and vitamins.
The new production area included the addition of equipment that would allow for the cooking, packing and rapid chilling of the new Indian range products. Process included high temperature frying of chicken before addition to curry sauce pot before portioning, chilling, packing and storage.
During Phase 1 of the project, an original blast chiller had been decommissioned from use and repurposed temporarily for storage. We had already designed and planned for this chiller to be used within the new production area but, at 5m x 2.5m it did not have the required space or load capacity to handle the cooling requirements within the new curries production line. We therefore completed excavation of additional ground adjacent to the original chiller area, applying hard core to make ready and then build the final extended chiller area. New refrigeration equipment was then installed that ensured adequate capacity for the required load during the chilling phase of the production line. Key stages of the production also included:
- Revisions to the hygienic wall structure
- New lighting and ventilation
- Removal of underfloor heating from the new chilled space
- New cooking vessels and cooking equipment specification and installation – including Bratt Pan for frying of chicken and auto-controlled cooking pot for production of the curry sauce
- Blast chiller
- Packing area and chilled storage
The design of the production area has also allowed for the future automation of a number of processes, including an in-line tray sealer and sauce depositor.
Why Use Refurbished Equipment?
One of the advantages of designing this factory extension with a number of project phases was that we were able to make best use of existing space and equipment. Equipment refurbishment can be highly financially advantageous and, when previously owned within the same environment, the maintenance schedule and history of the machine is fully known. It also avoids any wait time or lengthy delivery that can sometimes happen when ordering new equipment. Obvious disadvantages are that it does not carry the same aesthetics as new machinery and it is crucial that an experienced design engineer understands and specifies its use within any new process, as required volumes, loads, power sources and outputs should all be considered within its suitability for any application.
We are proud to report that the project was completed in line with all client requirements and we are looking forward to the next phase of this ongoing factory extension.