Kevin Imrie, Branston Potatoes, Abernethy
BRANSTON AIM TO BE BEST NEIGHBOURS
A new potato store located immediately next to housing is proving to be a “friendly neighbour” thanks to the use of innovative technology and design.
Branston’s factory is in the middle of the village of Abernethy, Perthshire.
The company’s new WarmStorTM is at one end of the site, adjacent to housing and other commercial premises. The nearest house is less than 10 metres away.
With a building that contains 31 fans, keeping noise levels within the limits stipulated by local planning regulations could have been an issue.
But developers Crop Systems Limited has overcome all of them by harnessing a range of technology in what was already an innovative design.
That includes installing silencers to all the ducting in the building and adding extra insulation around all major equipment.
In addition, all the fans used to move air around the facility are of a special quiet running design.
Fitting the store onto an irregular shaped site posed some problems, but the design has achieved it and installed a 1,400 tonne capacity store where its two predecessors could hold just 910 tonnes.
The shape of the site posed some interesting challenges, says Ray Andrews, from Crop Systems Limited:
“It is an unusual shape and meant we had to install 900 separate pieces of ductwork and 31 fans to ensure efficient air flows around the 26 automated storage bays”.
The new facility is already excelling, says Kevin Imrie, general manager, and proving very economical to run. At full capacity it holds around 1,350 tonnes and currently energy costs are averaging £53.35/day.
The fact that it is fitted with Crop Systems’ SmartStorTM controllers helps here, as these enable staff to monitor and manage the store remotely, and ensure it is always making best use of the different tariffs for electricity on offer.
The facility was in need of an update, Mr Imrie says:
“Our previous stores dated back to the 1980s and were nearing the end of their serviceable life. Insulation efficiency was deteriorating and the chilling equipment was getting old and unreliable.
“One particular concern was that we could not chill crops quickly enough if the ambient temperature was above 15oC”.
Branstons already had three Warmstors, one at Ilminster, Somerset and two at Lincoln, so it was the obvious choice for this new project.
The facility was built in just six weeks, and met another important aspect – that the rest of the factory could continue to function as near as normal while the work was in progress, while still ensuring that the site complied with safety regulations.
WarmStorTM is a concept created by Crop Systems Limited to warm the crops very gently over a two or three day period as they come out of low temperature cold stores in readiness for processing.
The facility uses low grade ambient air via a heat-pump, and can also be used to cool new potatoes with high field heat, maintaining the quality with the high humidity system:
“This store allows us to both warm and chill crops in the same building, and improves our conditioning because we have better control of the temperature and airflow.
“As a result we can achieve more consistent crop temperatures before we process them through the factory.
“That translates into a better quality of product for our customers, because the potatoes are less susceptible to damage or bruising when being handled.
“They are also less susceptible to ‘thumb nailing’ – the damage that can occur when the tuber’s skin splits as it warms up”, says Mr Imrie.
One of the key challenges was to meet the strict noise levels insisted on by the local council:
“We worked closely with Crop Systems’ staff to design a building and system that fully met all relevant noise standards and minimized the site’s impact on its neighbours. We believe this store sets new standards”.