How to

7 August 2017

Common Cold Storage Issues & Suggested Remedial Actions

Cold storage facilities perform a vital function for those industries which rely upon the safe storage of perishable goods. Regular maintenance is of course vital if such facilities are going to continue to operate as they should, but even with all the care in the world some issues can easily arise. Below we detail some of the more commonly-encountered of said issues, the underlying causes, and the recommended remedial action you should take to correct them.

Rotting Products

Considering the rather obvious fact that these facilities are designed specifically with preservation in mind, the rotting of products within the facility is a sure sign that something isn’t right. It is unlikely that this issue would be affecting all your stock, and if so it is a clear indication of a much wider-spanning issue. Rather, the rotting of some goods within the facility is typically a result of 1 of 2 causes; either the goods were over-ripe and beginning to rot when placed in storage, or uneven temperatures lead to warmer air rising, thereby affecting the quality of goods stored on the upper shelves.

To prevent this potential issue becoming a reality, it is advised that all stock is carefully checked for damage or ever-ripening as it enters the facility. Beyond that, make use of temperature mapping techniques to ensure a stable temperature throughout, and stack products properly so as to allow cooling airflow to cycle.

Over-freezing of Some Products

Over-freezing can significantly compromise the integrity of perishable stock such as fruits and vegetables. Much like the previously detailed issue, this can arise from something as simple as the way in which products are stacked. Other causes include freezing air from the evaporator coils being expelled directly onto the product, usually as a result of them being stacked too close to the vital component.

To get around this you should examine the way in which products are stored, ensuring that their stacking does not block the flow of air. Also consider the use of a restraining device installed under the coils to deflect some of the cold air away from the products themselves. This will allow the room as a whole to cool more effectively and efficiently whilst also hopefully preventing any one area from becoming overly-chilled.

Water Build-up

A build-up of water on or within products can result in no end of potential issues, but the cause is usually a fairly obvious one. For example leaks, particularly within the draining tubes used during defrosting, can cause water to drop down upon products and compromise their quality. If no leaks are present then the culprit is likely temperature; this may be spots of higher temperatures within a product, which is common among food items with variable consistencies and multiple ingredients, or it may be a result of frozen goods coming into contact with warmer, unfrozen stock, typically as it arrives and is initially placed into storage.

To prevent water build-up it is highly important that you regularly check the facility’s pipework for leaks, as this is arguably the most common cause. Also make sure you have a proper plan in place for the arrival of new goods and the layout of your facility, which will help you in keeping frozen and unfrozen goods separated. The installation of effective humidification equipment should also lessen the likelihood if this issue arising.

Temperatures Higher than Specified

If the temperature throughout the facility is higher than expected then you do of course have something of an issue, and a potentially major one at that. This could be a result of either improper airflow which prevents the room as a whole from cooling, or it may be that your refrigeration unit is simply unable to cope with the volume of stock being stored. Depending upon the quality of the building itself, outside temperatures may also have an effect.

The best way to fix this is to examine your layout so as to ensure proper airflow, and replace existing refrigeration units which higher capacity gear. If external temperatures are having a notable effect you may also need to install extra insulation – but remember, floors and roofs need insulating too, not just the walls.

Loss of Refrigeration Function

Of all the potential issues listed here this is arguably the most severe, as it all but ceases operations until it can be resolved and could cost a fortune in lost stock. Likely causes include faulty switches, loose connections to the power source, an unsuitable line voltage, or faulty circuit breakers.

In such instances it is worth seeing if the tried-and-tested method of ‘on and off again’ could fix the issue, but failing that you will need to check on the condition of all the aforementioned components until you find the culprit. If you are unable to identify the cause in good time, bring in a specialist who can thoroughly examine the system for any faults.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.