A recipe for refrigeration success

Posted in: Food & Beverage

Recipe for refrigeration successA well-functioning refrigeration system is one of the most important elements to success for any food plant. What does it take to whip up an effective refrigeration system that will successfully serve its production needs for many years to come? In my experience it comes down to a pretty simple, yet effective, recipe.

1. M2M design philosophy.

Starting with a maintenance to management design philosophy means engineers consider the theoretical performance of the refrigeration system, as well as the continued life cycle maintenance of the system. A successful system design not only provides the essential refrigeration your process needs – it does so without placing unrealistic burdens on the refrigeration operators for continued life cycle maintenance and daily operation.

2. Refrigeration engineering experience and knowledge.

Next, add the ever-so-important technical, first-hand knowledge of refrigeration design. The kind of knowledge developed by years of working in production facilities and understanding how they need to run on a daily basis. Pair this experience with continuous technical trainings so that your design engineer is at the leading edge of industry best practices.

3. Effective documentation.

How do you capture all the front-end investigation and engineering performed on a project in a manner that provides long term value to the facility? The answer is providing organized, intuitive documentation of the system that operators can readily access. Having the relevant drawings, manuals, and calculations available years down the road means that system understanding is retained and transferred to future projects. Clear, concise and organized system documentation that can be readily accessible during training can provide hands-on involvement.

4. Effective training.

Without this ingredient, all the prior steps can be executed to perfection – but they will all be for naught without effective training. So, what does effective training look like? It’s a collaborative process between the design engineer and the plant stakeholders who will be operating the system for years to come. It requires a hands-on training approach where you are reviewing the design intent of the system, encouraging plant stakeholders to ask questions, and thoroughly reviewing the documentation we previously mentioned so the facility has it readily available at the moment they need it. Design engineers look forward to this part of the project as it is a wonderful opportunity to transfer their in-depth knowledge of the system to those who will be responsible for its continued success – from first shift through third shift.

We see how difficult operating a successful refrigeration system can be. Our job is to deliver a system that plant stakeholders thoroughly understand and have input on the design, so it can benefit them for many years to come.

Andrew Darst

About the Author

Andrew Darst is a senior project engineer with Mead & Hunt’s Food & Beverage sector in the Fenton, MO office. He specializes in the analysis and design of ammonia refrigeration and mechanical utility systems. Andrew enjoys investigating existing systems to identify improvement opportunities and resolving issues to allow plant operators to run more effectively. In his free time, Andrew enjoys traveling and golfing wherever he can get the chance.

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