Choosing a Cold Room
Porkka are one of the UK’s leading cold room suppliers, offering an extensive range of cold rooms for commercial use. When choosing a cold room, it's useful to know what general features to look for in a cold room supplier, as well as having a good idea of your own specific needs.
This article looks at the features of good cold room suppliers that you should look for. It also takes you through a check-list of design factors to consider when choosing a cold room.
Cold Room Suppliers - click here to browse Porkka's range of cold rooms and freezer rooms including modular cold rooms, industrial cold rooms, small cold rooms and walkin cold rooms.
Key Features of Top Cold Room Suppliers
When you’re choosing a cold room you want to find a supplier who can provide the following:
Large scale manufacturing: This keeps down costs, as well as giving you faster delivery times, since they will be more likely to have what you want in stock.
A large range of modular options to choose from: This also helps to keep down costs, while maximising the chance of finding a standard solution which is still highly tailored to your needs.
High levels of safety: For instance, to meet 2006 HACCP regulations, and to ensure the safety of personnel using the rooms. Choosing a design which has these features built in gives you one less thing to worry about.
Ease of use and convenience: A good cold room needs to do a lot more than just keep things cold. It needs to be easy to get stock in and out, to move stock around inside for stock rotation and to keep clean easily.
A complete site survey and installation service: This ensures you have the right cold room for your needs and which is suitable for your site. It also means you get a turnkey solution which is ready to use as soon as it is installed.
A good warranty, backed up by a network of engineers trained in the supplier’s specific products.
Porkka has all of these features and more. As part of an international company with over 50 years experience, we have manufacturing plants in Europe and Asia. We use modular designs throughout our product range, with 81 “standard” sizes and many additional options.
All our cold rooms satisfy HACCP regulations and come with emergency entrapment release as standard. Also all of our cold rooms have been designed with ease of use in mind. They contain features such as built in door frame heaters to prevent doors freezing shut, the choice of left or right hung doors and all cold rooms are fitted with our unique shelving system.
We perform site surveys as standard to check for any potential problems and our rooms are installed by our network of Porkka trained sub-contractors. Finally, all our rooms come with a standard 2 year warranty.
The following gives an overview of the main considerations when choosing a cold room.
What Size Room Do You Need?
Getting the size of your cold room right is essential. A cold room which is too small is likely to result in stock being packed in too tightly, which reduces the air circulation and prevents even temperature control. A cold room which is much too large results in excessive cooling costs.
So your choice of room size should not be based primarily on available space. It should be based on your operational requirements, such as frequency and size of deliveries, and how fast the stock is used up. This will specify an overall volume of space required. If you are an existing operation you will probably already have a good idea about your normal volume of stock. If you are a new business this could take some thought to come up with an accurate estimate, but it will be time well spent to get the space you need. Porkka cold rooms can provide between 1.2m<sup>3</sup> and 22m<sup>3</sup> of storage.
Once you have an overall idea of required volume and the available floor space, you are then in a position to choose from one of our standard rooms. The following table indicates the range of volumes and floor dimensions we can cater for at Porkka. Clicking on a cell leads to floor layout details.
What Temperature Range(s) Do You Need?
After volume, the next most important factor in choosing a cold room is to know exactly what temperature range(s) you need for your business. This will be determined by the type of stock you handle. There are three temperature ranges available:
Chiller: Temperature range +2C to +12C. This range will provide adequate chill protection for a wide range of fresh foods including vegetables, salad products, cooked meats, cheese, butter, yogurt, fruit, milk, cream pastries, prepared meals, pizza, sauces and dressings. It is ideal for any product with a “Store Below +4C” label.
Medium: Temperature range -2C to +5C. This range is used mainly for fresh fish and meat. It can also be used to chill all the foods listed in the Chiller section provided the temperature is set above +2C.
Freezer: Temperature range -18C to -22C. This range is used for frozen goods of all kinds including frozen meat, frozen fish, frozen chicken, frozen vegetables, frozen cream, ice cream, frozen bread, frozen burgers, frozen chips, frozen pasties and pastries.
Walk In or Non Walk In?
Do you need a walk in room? Although Porkka provide walk in cold rooms for volumes as low as 1.2m<sup>3</sup>, you may not necessarily need a walk in room for this type of volume.
For lower volumes, one of Porkka’s commercial refrigeration cabinets may provide what you need instead. For instance, Porkka’s 1460mm width cabinets have a volume of 1.245m<sup>3</sup>.
The main benefit of a walk in cold room is ease of access to stock. As a cabinet or chest gets larger, it becomes progressively harder to reach stock towards the back of the cabinet. Most businesses need to ensure strict stock rotation to minimise waste, so anything which makes it easier for staff to reach and use older stock will ultimately improve the efficiency of your business.
What Type of Cold Room Do You Need?
Once you know your required volume and temperature range(s) you are in a position to start deciding what type of cold room you are likely to need. Porkka will be happy to advise you on what options might suit you, but here are the main types:
Standard Modular: A one zone room chosen from a range of standard size options. These are generally most suitable for a large volume of stock all requiring a single temperature. If you need multiple temperature zones but have high volume for each, you may opt for a multi-room installation.
Combi: A two zone room with internal separation. This option uses less overall space than having two standard modular rooms and so may be suitable when space is at a premium. A chiller/freezer combination is standard, but the chiller zone can replaced by a medium zone if required. The combi room comes in a range of standard sizes, with a height of 2400mm as standard.
Made to Measure: This option is available if neither the standard modular or combi options can provide the solution for a particular site. A modular system is still used, with panels of 150mm, and there is a wider range of insulation options.
Industrial: A much larger space used for storing produce in bulk packages e.g. by the pallet. These can be drive in rooms (i.e. forklift trucks) rather than walk in rooms, and have much larger doors and possibly pallet racking.
For more information about these different types of cold room, see our article “The Main Types of Cold Room”
How Much Insulation Do You Need?
Porkka cold rooms have a standard insulation thickness of 80mm which is adequate for most sites. A 100mm option is also available, and this is most applicable for freezer rooms and for sites with higher ambient temperatures.
The 100mm option costs more, but this cost is offset by the increased efficiency of the room. Thicker insulation means less heat ingress into the room and less power required to maintain internal temperatures, resulting in lower running costs for the life of the room. The estimated payback period for a small room is around 10 years, while the estimated life of the cold room itself is 10-20 years.
Do You Need a Floor?
For Medium and Freezer rooms, an insulated floor is essential in order to maintain the required temperatures.
But Chiller rooms may be supplied with or without a floor. While having an insulated floor will obviously help with energy efficiency, there are two main reasons why you may prefer not to have a floor. The first is that a floorless room will cost less to install – but this saving needs to be offset against increased running costs, especially in warmer environments.
The second reason is to allow trolley access, without having to negotiate a step into the room. Gastronorm trolleys can be used as well as cages with milk, yoghurt, butter and fats deliveries. Plated meals on stack-a-jack can also be wheeled in to the rooms for storage after preparation and before serving such as cold starters or desserts.
If a floor is required and you also need trolley access there are two options. The first is to excavate the floor to the necessary depth to enable the cold room to sit in the recess, resulting in the internal and external floors being on the same level. This obviously requires some expense and upheaval to the site prior to installation, but this needs to be offset against the cost of the time spent by personnel getting stock in and out of a room by hand and in smaller quantities. The second option is to use ramps to allow trolleys to get up the step. It will depend on the type, height and typical load weight of the trolleys whether ramp access will be a feasible option or not.
What Room Height Do You Need?
The standard height of a Porkka cold room is 2100mm, but they can also be built to a height of 2400mm.
In general, most personnel will find it difficult to reach stock stored above 2100, but sometimes the only way to get the required storage volume in a small space is to have some extra height.