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.

New cold chain study reveals cost of wasted food

A new government and industry-sponsored study has revealed that food waste attributable to failures in the cold food chain costs the Australian economy nearly $4 billion at farm gate values and causes annual greenhouse gas emissions roughly equivalent to all of the cars in Queensland.

The study, Australia’s first in-depth examination of the cost of food waste because of deficiencies in the cold food chain was carried out by the Melbourne-based Expert Group, for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and Refrigerants Australia.

The country’s peak cold food chain advocacy body, the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) has labelled the report a wake-up call, demanding an urgent response by governments and businesses.

AFCCC chairman, Mark Mitchell, said the study highlighted the shocking abuse of temperature control and food handling processes in refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.

“It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten,” said Mitchell.

‘This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion. Meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million,’ he added.

The Australian government has committed to reducing food waste by half by 2030 to alleviate hunger, reduce greenhouse emissions and water usage and increase the efficiency of the economy. But Mitchell warned that this goal would never be reached unless there were substantial improvements in the way chilled food made its way from farm or production facility to the consumer.

Field studies by the AFCCC have highlighted critical shortcomings in the cold chain, and it has embarked on an educational campaign to try to improve standards, even down to the basics of temperature measurement with properly calibrated thermometers, and how to pack food pallets in a refrigerated space.

“We need to work cooperatively across industry and government to improve cold chain efficiency,” Mitchell added. “Most of the cold food chain’s problems are human-induced. Technologies and processes already exist that would dramatically cut food losses, but nothing can be achieved while food manufacturers and distribution channels operate in isolation and secrecy. They are responsible for a cold risk chain, rather than a cold food chain.”

For the first time, the new study balances the bad news with a range of practices that would cost-effectively reduce perishable food waste. These include simple, but logical food handling processes, such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer, more accurate measurement of food temperatures, and far more transparent monitoring of food in transit, so that failures could be quickly identified and solved.

“An Australian Cold Food Code could be a game-changer for food producers and consumers. It is all very well to implore cold storage facilities, trucking companies and supermarkets to redouble their efforts to reduce food waste, but they need the support and guidance of an updated and practical code, combined with an education campaign for cold chain practitioners. The AFCCC is working on this, in cooperation with the many Australian food and transport groups who share our concerns,” said Mitchell.

Deutsche AM buys Australian cold logistics facilities

German financial services company Deutsche Asset Management has purchased cold logistics facilities in Melbourne and Brisbane for $73 million.

The facilities, located in Melbourne’s Derrimut and the Brisbane suburb of Parkinson, were originally built to connect to the port, airport, railway stations and major transport routes in the two cities. They were purpose-built in 2010 for refrigerated interstate transport and warehousing company Rand Transport.

“We are pleased to add Rand Transport’s facilities to our portfolio,” said Victoria Sharpe, Head of Real Estate – Asia Pacific, Deutsche Asset Management.

“With good quality, cold storage accommodation in prime Australian locations in small supply, over the long term we expect the assets to deliver stable cash flows with low volatility in line with the strategy for our investors.”

McCain to move into robotic cold storage facility

McCain Foods Australia has announced a new contract agreement with cold storage provider, NewCold as part of an ongoing effort to improve supply chain efficiencies.

NewCold’s first warehouse in Truganina, Melbourne will manage the storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products, as part of a 10-year agreement.

Construction has significantly advanced on the automated facility, which will consist of an integrated system combining automated, state-of-the-art pallet handling systems, using in-house warehouse and control software developed by parent Dutch cold storage innovator, NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics.

McCain Foods ANZ Supply Chain Director, Taso Kourou, stated that this facility upgrade would drastically improve logistics capabilities, meeting the needs of local and international customers, demanding improved efficiency from production to distribution of frozen products.


“The storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products in the new automated facility will give us a more stable temperature regime and highly accurate stock control,” says Kourou.

McCain Food’s Regional President for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India & China, Louis Wolthers, says the McCain team is keen to see the outcomes of the new agreement take effect.

“From a sustainability perspective, through the use of the warehouses’ highly controlled in-and-outflows combined with efficient cooling equipment, energy usage per pallet stored is up to 50 per cent lower compared to a conventional storage option.”

From receipt, storing and subsequent retrieval of palletised products, the warehouse makes use of unmanned stacker cranes, conveyors and automated truck unloading systems, all together capable of handling more than 11,000 pallet movements per day, allowing McCain to efficiently move stock out of the warehouse to customers more efficiently than ever before.

McCain will also have access to continuous feedback on performance, service and efficiency, allowing for a great opportunity for continuous improvement through its supply and delivery methods. The focus will be on recruiting local employees to staff the facility, with extensive skills and technology training for employees to ensure they can manage the facility at maximum efficiency.

The NewCold Advanced Logistics warehouse is a first of its kind in Australia, giving McCain an unparalleled mix of efficiency, speed, sustainability and automation, which in turn will create better outcomes for FMCG customers.

NewCold will be open for business in Autumn 2017, and is the beginning of a new approach to temperature-controlled storage in the southern hemisphere.

McCain Foods will store all frozen products with the automated facility on Robinsons Road, Truganina by July 2017.


Two high bay cold storage warehouses to be built

NewCold Advanced Logistics has awarded contracts to manufacturer and supplier of storage equipment, Dematic to build two high bay warehouses at new sites in Truganina, Melbourne.

The automated cold storage facilities, which when built will be the largest of their kind in the Southern hemisphere, will include ColbyRack high bay racking capable of housing 100,000 and 106,000 pallets.

Various pallet weights and configurations will be deployed within each facility up to a maximum pallet weight of 1,265kgs. The ColbyRack components, comprising more than 8,500 tonnes of roll-formed Bluescope G450 grade steel, are being locally manufactured at Dematic’s factory in Belrose, Sydney.

“Dematic is excited to be partnering with NewCold as they establish their presence in Australia’s cold storage supply chain,” said Dr Murray Clarke, Structural Engineering Manager, Dematic.

“The award of the contracts to build NewCold’s first two sites demonstrates Dematic’s capability to competitively design, manufacture and install large-scale, heavy-gauge high bay racking solutions in Australia.”

NewCold Founder and Executive Vice President Bram Hage said: “The new warehouses will be two of the very few facilities in the world that are both ambient and temperature-controlled in a highly automated environment. The scale and height of the racking required for the DCs made Dematic the logical choice as our storage equipment partner.”

The new warehouses are due for completion by mid-2017.