PBBG’s Paul Brady knows the importance of the cold chain process in Australia’s food landscape and knows what it takes to build an efficient cold storage facility. Food & Beverage Industry News explains.
Paul Brady has spent the best part of three decades making sure Australia’s food cold chain is up to standard with the best in the world. And while the director of the Paul Brady Building Group (PBBG) knows there is more work to do, he is optimistic the country is moving in the right direction when it comes to the food cold chain.
Specialising in the fit out of food and cold storage facilities, Brady’s knowledge of design and construction methods, insulated panels, door systems, space efficiency, and accuracy for temperature, results in smart, durable builds.
“Cold storage Facilities are extremely important and the way they are designed and built can have huge ramifications for the client in terms of efficiency – how they use and operate it and the amount of energy savings,” said Brady.
And it is the little things that make the difference between an efficient cold storage facility and one that can cost a lot of money to run. Energy is the big drain on finances when it comes to industrial coolrooms and freezers, and a lot of money can be saved if the design is up to specifications.
“One such idea is to have an ante room,” he said. “It is a temperature-controlled room leading into the freezer. It acts as a buffer between the outside warm air entering directly into the freezer. It takes a lot of pressure off the freezer room because you’re not going from an ambient temperature directly to what would be a minimum holding freezer operation of -C. What this means is that you’re not getting as much ingress of heat, which can affect maintaining internal temperature, which makes the fans work harder, therefore a loss of energy efficiency. By controlling warm air ingress, there is less chance of the fans icing up and ice formation on the walls and ceilings, as well as around the door surround, all this leading to what can be unnecessary additional maintenance costs.”
“Smart design is key when looking at building any kind of cold store,” said Brady.
We advise our clients to always consider maintaining the cold chain, always taking into account how perishable items come into the facility, how and where they are stored and how they leave, ensuring strict control of required temperature along each step of the way.
Brady has designed his cool rooms and freezers with space saving and efficiency in mind; this plays into consideration of the door – its location and how it opens.
“What some people forget is that door openings play a critical role, especially in freezer rooms,” said Brady. “There is a massive amount of energy lost with door openings and it’s critical to get the right opening. It is wise to invest in door systems that reduce the doors remaining open unnecessarily. There has been great improvements in this area over the past few years. We supply and manufacture a range of different doors for the coldstorage industry, for example automated insulated sliding doors, fast action rapid roll doors, vertical lift insulated doors and pedestrian access hinged doors.”
“We are trying to educate the marketplace to start to veer away from human error and getting these door systems to work for the business,” said Brady.
Brady knows how expensive it is to consistently run cold storage rooms. That’s why, he said, it’s so important to build them correctly from the start.
“Another area that we strictly control is how our facilities are built on-site,” he said. “We have measures in place to ensure we follow a process. Our own guys are trained on how to build cool rooms and freezer rooms – any kind of cold storage facilities. We have a protocol that they have to follow, and its consistently checked on site every day.”
PBBG has some more cold storage projects in the pipeline, but has also dipped its toe into another food-related enterprise – ripening facilities.
Paul Brady and his business partner Steve Oakley own EcoTop Ripening Australia (ERA), which as the name suggests, specialises in building fruit ripening facilities. We have set up using the latest tarpless room technology out of Europe and have locally improved the design to meet Australian building code requirements.
According to Brady, Australia was 20 years behind Europe in the way it ripened its fruit, and already the systems EcoTop are developing are taking off on the east coast.
In 2018 the Ecotop team constructed an Australian 20 Pallet R&D variant of the Euro system in Melbourne to both prove the technology was suitable for unique Australian demands and to allow continuing research of new fields.
They asked themselves what else the compact, high airflows and ultra-stable temperature systems might also be useful for.
In 2019 they worked with the Montague Fresh team to perform trials of fruit conditioning at various high and low temperatures.
The exceptional results in both fast heating and cooling times and even temperature profiles throughout the test fruit boxes, have opened up further opportunities for the import and export conditioning of various products.
“Not long after initial trials we built four ripening rooms up in Brisbane, about 18 months ago. It was the first four rooms of its kind in Australia and we’ve already been contracted to do another two variants of that ripening room – fast cooling chambers in Melbourne,” said Brady. “And on the back of the Brisbane project we have orders to build another seven. This new tarpless system is more efficient and accurate in temperature, humidity and ethylene dosage. It’s built as a true gas-tight room.”
Among the current R&D programs for the Ecotop R&D Room are controlled atmosphere techniques for ripening, chemical-free pest control for young fruit plants and the adaptation of fully automated loading and unloading pallet systems.
Brady’s expertise is not only what defines him from others – his desire to provide the best potential growth for his clients is what puts him on the next level.
“We want to assist those businesses that are growing and direct them along the right path in terms of the right facility by designing it to its maximum capacity in terms of their potential and in what they will achieve in future growth. It’s also about delivering them a project that works for them and serves them well,” said Brady.