As owners of large equipment, we’ve all been guilty at some point of exiling maintenance procedures to the shadows while the spotlight of attention is kept on installation procedures and repairs. Well, at least in the case of walk-in coolrooms, this indolent attitude can’t be afforded when perishable contents are at risk. Hygiene is the number one factor to consider here, with breakdowns and excessive energy expenditure trailing in slightly behind this environmental issue. In other words, you want to keep the machinery fully functional, saving cash on utility bills and avoiding expensive breakdown due to a faulty condenser unit, but customer health always comes first.
Thankfully, as serious as we’ve phrased these maintenance considerations, the actual implementation of a basic care strategy isn’t hard as long as you adopt a systemic approach. Begin by reading the manual that came with the coolroom gear. Ask the installing company questions. The engineer will be only too willing to support you in your hygiene-centric endeavours, and, in all likelihood, has a service plan on hand that assigns your product with regular maintenance visits. But let’s return to your role in caring for your product. Design a maintenance schedule for your staff, one that includes the recording of any and all issues so that you can detect developing trends. Place emphasis on observational skills, on looking for leakages and cooling irregularities.
The next task asks for a deeper level of involvement, taking you beyond simple observation. Keep the internal and external wall space clean with a damp cloth and a liberal sprinkling of a mild detergent. Remember, some insulating panels are fabricated from exotic new materials, so avoid chemical cleaners unless you know the system is approved for the formulation. Wipe away those chemical stains. Of course, this is an opportunity to employ a log book and record the stains. If they keep returning, there’s likely a leak somewhere, and it’s time to call in an expert service engineer. Turn next to door hinges and the gasket seal that frames the door, as this critical seal is responsible for maintaining climate-control, the internal cooling that your perishable items need to stay safely frozen. It’s entirely possible that the produce will stay frozen, assuming we’re referring to a walk-in freezer, but the refrigeration machinery may have to work twice as hard due to the gasket leak, thus sending your utility bill rocketing upward.
The secret of this basic maintenance plan comes from using the five senses. This is your basic guide to coolroom and freezer maintenance. A staff member can see a leak and smell spoiling food. You can hear the bearing of an air handling unit running roughly and see a torn entryway gasket. Beyond these fundamental points of care, it’s time to call on your local coolroom contractor for a more potent solution. Condenser coils need to be checked, as do the coolant levels of the refrigeration unit and the lubrication of motor bearings. By all means, adopt your own maintenance plan with all the best in hygiene-related care in place, but turn to the experts when maintaining refrigeration issues.
Apart from the industrial-grade appliances that populate your kitchen, you know, the ones that cook huge quantities of food for your hungry guests, a walk-in coolroom or freezer is the biggest investment you’ll make. As such, you need to make your buying decision based on certain factors. These include but are not limited to what’s being stored in the room and whether a combination workflow is to be put in place by the kitchen manager. We’ll come back to this latter factor further on in our discussion. Learn what features and factors determine the type of cooling space you’ll adopt. The typical coolroom, for instance, doesn’t drop the interior climate down to subzero realms, but it is responsible for creating a low temperature space, one that’s reminiscent of a frosty cellar.
That last romanticized image works well for wine cellars where cold beverages are placed on hold for an evening soiree, say around the 15ºC mark, but the temperature needs to drop before it can be classed as a coolroom. Note, the frosty but almost comfortable 7.5ºC level is considered suitable for these purposes. Now, without further ado, let’s fill in some of the details that determine the type of coolroom for any particular business.
1. Size and Location – It’s best to start with the building blocks of the project. Discuss where the room is to be installed. A modular approach can be used here to build the cooling room onsite, or it’s possible to build the unit outside. Internal and externally installed units use different construction techniques, so know where the unit is going and the capacity required.
2. Preparation or Storage – It’s true that some boundaries are soft edged and without definition. The freezing of food is not one of these instances. If you want a preparation and short-term storage area for food that’s being served soon, opt for a coolroom. On the other hand, a heavily insulated walk-in freezer is the only solution when you’re storing perishable food items such as meat.
3. Incorporate Scientific Precision – There are many monitoring and control options for differing coolroom scenarios, but some applications simply demand high accuracy. The storage of sensitive laboratory materials and pharmaceuticals demand nth-degree accuracy. Additionally, this business environment comes with added hygiene and clinical accessories, parts that include glass-panelled cabinets and easy-wash steel shelving.
4. The Combi Coolroom – We promised we’d return to the aforementioned combination workflow, and here we are. This configuration splits the climate-control paradigm down the middle, offering the convenience of a prep room and a companion cooling space that enacts a dual-zone model of operation. Assign one room to prep work and adjust the second to take on the role of walk-in freezer or a secondary coolroom.
Other types of coolroom include beer cooling areas and large spaces for storing just-slaughtered meat on rows of hooks. Some variants combine elements of industrial models, partnering high-capacity outlays with domestic scaled features. Above all, it’s imperative to know the purpose of the room and record these labelled functions with pen and pencil before ever laying down a single insulating panel.
C&M Coolrooms can create a custom solution for your specific needs. Talk to one of team members today.