Deciding if you need cold room storage is something any business involved in the preparing or processing of food needs to think about. Large business organisations such as hotels and restaurants need chilling facilities for foodstuffs and cold room storage is often the answer when a cabinet fridge or freezer can no longer satisfy their needs.
The beauty of cold room storage is that it provides walk in facilities that can house large quantities of food and perishables making them easy to view. Cold room storage will also keep food at steady temperatures for either chilling or freezing.
There are a variety of cold room storage options available each with their own unique features and benefits. Modular cold rooms are made so they can often fit into tight spaces and are quick and easy to assemble. This makes them a good solution for medium sized businesses when a commercial fridge or freezer can no longer deal with the volume of produce they store. Combi- cold rooms have both a chiller and freezer compartment, which is perfect when you need to hold a very large quantity of products at different temperatures.
Industrial cold rooms are custom made to suit the individual requirements of the business but are often vast, some even the size of a warehouse and used in major commercial situations.
If your business is involved in food preparation then you will almost certainly have a variety of commercial refrigerators and freezers - and for some types of small business this may be perfectly adequate. But when does a cabinet fridge or freezer stop being a suitable solution and a cold room become necessary? Here we look at 5 signs that it could be time to move over to cold room storage.
Large overall volume
Cold room storage has the advantage over fridge or freezer cabinets due to its sheer size. Cold rooms of all types can hold a bigger volume of produce making it useful for kitchens in large hotels and restaurants, schools, hospitals and industrial food processing. Cold rooms have a storage capacity far bigger than a standard commercial refrigerator and can cope with huge quantities of foodstuffs without compromising the temperature in the room and ultimately the temperature of the products inside. This regularity of temperature maintains the overall condition and lifespan of the produce kept in cold room storage.
However you do need to consider both the chill volume and freezer volume of the foods you wish to store and any movement between the two. Frozen food will need to be thawed out safely and food that has been cooked will need to be chilled and then perhaps frozen at the correct temperatures.
A Combi cold room gives you both chiller and freezer compartments, the ratio of space allocated to each part can be altered to suit your needs. If required the chiller unit can be substituted for medium temperature units. They come with shelving to assist storage and stock control. Chiller sections can be supplied with either flooring or without to enable trolleys to be loaded inside.
If you increasingly find yourself running out of space due to the storage of large items in your commercial refrigerator then this is a sign you need to switch to cold room storage. Some pieces of meat, such as large joints or whole sides of an animal would not fit in a traditional fridge or freezer cabinet. Other goods are sometimes delivered boxed and have to be unpacked into cabinets, which can compromise the temperature of the unit. Boxed items like fish, fruit or vegetables can be unloaded in a cold room or kept in the box and just placed on a shelf directly. Cold room storage is also ideal to put large cooking containers onto shelves to chill down their contents quickly and efficiently.
For really large items, industrial cold rooms can store entire pallets of food products. This cold room storage is sometimes used for plants, flowers, and crops and companies that process meat and fish where a large area is needed not only for storage but for food preparation too.
Ease of access
One of the main advantages of cold room storage, whatever its size, is the ease of access for staff. Having a walk in facility makes it so much easier to see what is in the cold room. In fridge or freezer cabinets items of stock can be hidden behind each other but with the shelving in a cold room products can be placed individually. This aids good stock control and rotation for your company and means staff can easily access what they need without having to open and close multiple cabinets, which affects temperature regulation.
If space is tight it’s also good to choose cold room storage where the doors can be hung to open and close either to the left hand or the right hand as this will also make access easier.
Taking deliveries is easier with cold room storage too as boxed items can just be put straight on to shelves and stored in their packaging rather than unloaded into cabinets.
Need for temperature stability
Whether chilling or freezing for commercial purposes the need for a constant temperature is paramount. With cabinet refrigerators and freezers warm air flows into the unit every time the door is opened, threatening temperature stability. This can be critical for some foods such as ice cream as it will affect the quality of the produce but it can also compromise food safety when dealing with foods such as fish or meat. If the temperature varies and is not kept under control then this could lead to you losing expensive produce and affect your stock levels. If cold storage is being used for medical supplies then the consistency of the temperature is vital to maintain the chemical structure of the medicines or samples.
With cold room storage it is possible to close the door while you go inside, to review stock, unload deliveries, discuss menus and check off orders without compromising the temperature of the cold room. Of course with staff members inside a cold room safety is very important to avoid being trapped inside. You need to choose a model with strong hinges on the doors and handles that will lock to keep stock secure but has an easy emergency release mechanism to allow personnel to leave.
As produce is kept against the actual walls of a cold room, rather than stacked on top or behind each other, any warmth they give off whilst chilling is extracted over the door of the room. This means the temperature is affected to the absolute minimum.
Need for trolley access
Some large cold room storage can accommodate trolleys and these are ideal for big commercial food processing companies where food is cooked in trays, stored on a trolley but then can be taken straight into a cold room without having to be unloaded.
For trolleys to be wheeled in and out, the cold room you choose needs to be floorless so there is no difference in level between the cold room and the floor of your premises.
An insulating floor is required for freezer and medium temperature rooms so if you do wish to use trolleys then the problem can be surmounted in two ways. The original floor level can be raised for the portion of the floor where the freezer room will be located or a ramp can be placed at the entrance to allow trolleys to be moved in and out.
Porkka specialises in cold room storage including cold rooms, cabinet refrigerators and freezer units for industrial and commercial use.
We can use our knowledge to advise you on the correct cold room for your business and advise you on all the points mentioned above such as temperature control, volume, capacity and access. Porkka have a range of over 300 modular cold rooms, in a variety of storage volumes and sizes.