Expertise key to a coldstorage and food build

At the Global Food Forum in Sydney last year, non-executive director of brewing giant Lion, Sir Rod Eddington, pointed out that in order for Australia to have a vibrant food and beverage export sector, it needed a good cold store supply chain.

The need for good cold store supply chain is one thing, but that isn’t possible if the facilities that store cold foodstuffs are not up to scratch. This is not lost on Paul Brady, director of Paul Brady Building Group (PBBG), specialists in coldstorage builds.
Having been in the building industry for the best part of 30 years, the last 25 building food and coldstorage facilities, Brady knows how important it is to get it right. And it was 20 years ago that he decided that these builds would be his specialty.

“We specialise in temperature-controlled hygienic environments, which means we understand refrigeration, scale, production, storage, energy outputs and efficiencies and logistics” he said. “We provide all the specialist and necessary expertise and services to build food and cold storage facilities.”

One such build the company recently completed was for Ash Bros Food Services, based in Sunshine West in Melbourne. A company that has been around for 50 years, Ash Bros felt the march of progress when the Victorian government gave the go-ahead for the West Gate Tunnel project, which meant the Ash Bros premises in Yarraville had to make way for the new piece of infrastructure.

It wasn’t a case of just finding an existing warehouse to fit out, there were other factors Ash Bros had to look into, such as servicing clients, as well as staffing considerations.

“It took a while to find the right property, but one was found that was going to work,” said Brady. “We started design in November, and we managed to get it completed in April with certificate of occupancy and Primesafe accreditation.”

But there were a few hiccups along the way. First, to get any type of fit out completed in such a short time takes a lot of effort and co-ordination. Add in progamming building works through the Christmas and holiday period, COVID-19 restrictions, and deadline constraints in terms of Ash Bros vacating their existing premises, the pressure was on.
“There was refrigeration equipment stuck on the docks in China, however, we managed to locate equivalent units within Australia and had the system tested and commissioned one week before the deadline. It is one of the builds I’m most proud of,” said Brady.

Ash Bros director Christos Christou couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the project.
“Going into a new premises was as bit daunting,” he said. “It was a big difference in operation, in sheer size and space. Everyone who has seen it is in awe of the design, quality and workmanship – it couldn’t be any better. Paul doesn’t cut any corners. It is a state-of-the-art premises that will keep us going for the next 20 years. It ticked all the boxes as far as being a great seafood processing premises.”

Australia is a vast continent and most of Australia’s food comes from the country areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as well as the rural climates of South Australia and Western Australia. Distance is a huge problem in terms of getting from A to B with the Australian supply chain. However, these distances cause another problem that is becoming more on the radar of councils and both federal and state government – food waste. This was reinforced by The Expert Group’s study, Waste in the Cold Chain and Opportunities for Improvement, which stated that, “Conservative estimates put the cost of food waste within the cold food chain at $3.8 billion at farm gate values.”

Again, quality cold storage is essential for preserving the food supply chain. This is why it is important to get a company that specialises in such builds.

Brady admits that it is imperative to engage a building company with the right knowledge.
PBBG is also a one-stop shop. “Early design involvement is key” said Brady. They will oversee mandatory planning and building permit requirements, as well as meeting auditing authorities build standards. PBBG are then ready for the build from the beginning right until the keys are handed over to the new owner.

How quickly can they work? Brady gives a recent example.

“We came across a project that had already been designed with a full set of building drawings completed, we found the design did not address key compliance requirements and incorrectly detailed such areas as the cold storage build.

“The client came to us in frustration and we managed to turnaround correct design and permits with handover all within four months and in time to meet the deadline.

Unfortunately, the owner had spent the best part of $30,000-40,000 with the initial designer.”

Energy efficiency is also a big issue for any food/cold storage operation, and PBBG covers a range of smart design options and engage building products/systems that ensure ongoing costs savings for their clients.

“We look at such areas as constructing an ante-room as the first point of entry before entering a holding freezer, this separation can prevent direct warm air of any ambient warehouse temperatures entering into the freezer, therefore, decreasing the strain on the refrigeration units and the potential ice up of the fan coils.”

It is for these types of reasons it is important to have the builder onboard from early on, said Brady. With their experience, they can see pitfalls, specify through design building products and systems where they are best suited and make sure the materials being used will do the job properly. Paul Brady Building Group carry out in-house insulated panel construction and recommend the use of FM-approved insulated panels on their projects, which are preferred by insurance companies.

As well as new builds, PBBG can do refurbishments, provide advice on preventative maintenance solutions, and provide emergency repairs. It also custom manufactures insulated door systems to fit the bespoke needs of its many clients.

For more information on the Paul Brady Building Group, please click here.