How cool are your products? – Climate control for the food industry

Expert spotlight: Penmann Climatic Systems

As anyone in food and drink manufacturing will know, temperature control plays a vital role – not only in ensuring its safety, but also in maintaining production flow. Process and product cooling, for example, will minimise health risks, maximise throughput, provide additional shelf-life, aid product consistency and eliminate product rejection.

Britvic2What the average consumer will not realise is that modern food and drink production is not solely concerned with ingredients and processes: Production facilities require a series of effective climate control systems to ensure that the environments in which products are processed meet temperature, airflow and extraction requirements. Moreover, with energy costs on the increase, manufacturers also want to be sure that those systems are working as efficiently as possible. This is where a climatic control specialist is indispensible.

Expert solutions from the industry experts

One of the UK’s leading climatic control companies is Penmann Climatic Systems based in Otley, West Yorkshire. The company delivers turnkey solutions for process cooling, factory air conditioning, ventilation and extraction systems as well as chilled water refrigeration systems. Their knowledge and expertise has provided advice and expert solutions to the food and drink industry for the past 38 years. In fact their impressive list of customers reads like a roll call of some of the biggest names in the business – many of them VWA clients.

Optimum temperatures for product throughput and food safety

“Identifying the optimum temperature and time for product cooling is essential,” says John Kirwin, Penmann’s Commerical Director. “If you cool it too quickly then the end product may not be to specification. Cool it too slowly and you’re left with a production line bottleneck and insufficient space.” To solve this problem, Pennman designed and built their own Mobile Product Test Unit. This unique device can be employed to determine cooling profiles for a broad range of products. “Several companies have improved food safety and productivity by using the mobile unit to produce cooling profiles” adds John. “It’s tested everything from poultry and ready meals to dairy products, sauces and confectionery; and because it’s mobile, it can be used in-situ or off site.”

Muller2As product lines change, so too can climatic requirements. Sometimes existing systems are unable to cool products quickly enough to meet demand. This was the case at a well-known international biscuit manufacturer. To cater for the increased throughput, Penmann designed, supplied and project managed a 30 metre extension to the existing line comprising a direct expansion cold deck with a contra flow air cooled cover. The existing refrigeration plant and controls were all replaced and a menu-based control system was provided to enable easy selection of alternative parameters for different product types.

Taking care of high care requirements

When we think about contamination and cross-contamination of products, it’s often personal hygiene, cleaning products, cooking temperatures, physical contamination, pests and storage that readily spring to mind. However risk also extends to other sources, such as condensation and inadequate air pressure. Additionally, manufacturers need to ensure that products which must be cooled prior to packaging and storage have cooling profiles which meet food hygiene standards.

High care production areas i.e. areas where chilled foods particularly vulnerable to microbiological contamination are handled need specialist air pressure control. Penmann have considerable experience in providing solutions which consider all elements of a process, including requirements for Cleaning in Place (CIP) on certain lines whilst maintaining production on others. A good example of this is work undertaken at a dairy product filling area which used a 100% fresh air system filtered to H10 standard to minimise contamination risks from yeasts or moulds. Penmann designed and installed an energy efficient displacement air distribution system. This reduced the air volume to 65% of that of a conventional mixing system. The addition of an enthalpy wheel to assist with cooling meant that the refrigerant plant size was halved.

Make sure your cooling systems are working efficiently

In order to tackle issues such as high temperatures, humidity, air quality, energy efficiency and product cooling rates, a comprehensive survey should always be the starting point. The team of professionals at Penmann offer surveys on the following:

Pressurisation survey to ensure the correct positive air pressures are being maintained in High Care Areas and also that the whole factory operates on a positive pressure to prevent egress of contaminants.

Condensation surveys to establish the causes of internal condensation and to design solutions to eliminate any cross contamination risks.

Product cooling surveys to ensure the correct cooling profile is achieved to meet food hygiene standards; but also to establish how cooling times can be improved to prevent bottlenecks and to improve shelf life time.

Energy surveys of existing HVAC systems to see how they can be improved to provide energy savings e.g. convert to displacement air distribution.

Hygiene surveys of existing HVAC systems to ensure they meet current standards and to advise on improvements to reduce hygiene risks.

LEV (Local Extract Ventilation) surveys to ensure systems are performing to HSS.258.

Following the surveys, Penmann will provide you with a detailed report of the findings and make recommendations for practical, efficient solutions, bespoke to your situation. As a ‘one-stop shop’ for consultancy, design, installation and commissioning, they are able to offer real value for money, supplying quality products and services that are delivered on time and within budget.

Products/Services supplied:

  • Process and product cooling
  • Air conditioning
  • Refrigeration
  • Clean rooms

For more information, including case studies, please visit

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