Food Production Case Studies

  • Associated Seafoods


    Aging gracefully is never easy, unless you are a good Scottish single malt.  So, we’ll settle for gracefully-ish. With a remarkably ripened appearance, scoured painted components and the original controls systems mounted on slightly aged metal and wooden panels with gauges and cut-outs, Star Refrigeration’s oldest cooling plant might seem a relic from another era to the untrained eye, but the proud owners will tell you a different story.

    A leading supplier of some of the finest seafood caught right on its doorstep, Associated Seafoods has been in business since 1913. Experiencing steady growth over the years, the company now owns a specialist group of seafood companies comprising Moray Seafoods, Lossie Seafoods and GlenIsla Shellfish. The company is internationally recognised for the premium quality of their langoustines, prawns, crabs, scallops, shellfish, and the famous Scottish smoked salmon, The pride of Scotland.

    In 1979, Star Refrigeration provided the company with two refrigeration packages for their cold storage and production facilities located on the Moray Firth coast of Scotland, in Buckie. According to Wikipedia, ‘1979 (MCMLXXIX) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar’, but for Star Refrigeration, it marks an era as this represents the oldest operating plant in Star’s history. And to add a time perspective, here are a few things some of you might remember: Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister, Sony introduced the ‘Sony Walkman’, YMCA was in the charts and Superman, the movie, had just been released.

    Built to last, each package consists of a single compressor, LPR, four way valve with patented reverse cycle defrost technology, an evaporator and twin circuit condenser. This industrial system is true Star quality through and through. “It’s a great system, it still hits -25 in the cold store”, says Roddy McDonald, Associated Seafoods Maintenance Manager in charge of routine checks to the system.

    “I’ve been here for around 27 years, and the system was already in place when I started. It is always running – 24/7. We worked out that it’s been running for 324,342hours non-stop. When we need to do maintenance work we shut one down and keep the other one running”, Roddy adds.

    The systems initially ran on ozone-depleting R502. Although very common in the 1970s and 1980s, it is now illegal to use HCFCs, and the system has since been converted to non ozone-depleting and low global warming potential refrigerant.  Star Refrigeration was a precursor in the use of natural refrigerants since its inception in 1979, but “ammonia in those days wasn’t as common in food factories. Depending on the size of the plant, there was a break-over point on whether to use ammonia or not” , said Calum McKenzie, Star’s Regional Manager for Star’s service and maintenance branches in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

    With such a long-standing relationship, the two companies have worked together effortlessly as they both grew substantially to become leaders in their respective markets. Calum McKenzie, said, “This is one of the first systems built using the  low pressure receiver. During defrost, refrigerant flow is reversed, with hot gas flowing to the evaporator where the latent head of condensation is used to melt ice formation. This process has now been proven to be an exceptionally efficient way of defrosting and it is used in the most modern and energy-efficient refrigeration systems today.”

    Apart from replacing the cooling fluid with a drop-in refrigerant and replacing one of the evaporators, there have never been any major issues with the system or loss of cooling in almost 40 years.  Roddy McDonald confirmed that “it is basically the same plant, with all the original electrics, Star’s controls system and components. We have not even rewound the motor so it’s still working fairly efficiently”. Reliable refrigeration over the past 38 years have enabled Associated Seafoods to focus solely on what they are best at, allowing it to grow to employ over 150 people in their factory in Buckie alone. 

    Despite running for almost 40 years, Roddy MacDonald is confident Star’s system can keep going for another decade, “as long as it is kept well looked after as until now, it could keep going for another 10 years, easy.”

    The company has a lot resting on its shoulders. The reliability of the plant as well as good aftercare to ensure continuous smooth operation is critical to their business success. Associated Seafoods supplies to the UK’s leading premium food retailers and also ship their produce around the world.  Exporting to 23 countries, including the States, China and Dubai and with a turnover of £15 million per year, the company takes in around 40 tonnes a week of Scottish salmon and shellfish and has recently invested £3 million refurbishing its warehouse.

    “We are hoping to expand in the near future and continue our relation with Star Refrigeration. For me, there’s never been anybody but Star to work with”, said Stuart Gibson, Operations Director of Associated Seafoods.

     


  • Blakeman replaces R404a with eco-friendly ammonia system


    James T Blakeman & Co is a meat wholesaler and manufacturer of the famous “Supreme Sausage.” Recognised as a leading supplier of cooked sausage and meat products to the ready meal and contract cooking markets, the company was searching for a replacement for their existing R404A system, which is being phased out under recent changes to environmental legislation over the next 15 years. 

    Star Refrigeration helped the sausage manufacturing company upgrade their existing refrigeration system, futureproof their factory and increase energy efficiency at their production site in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

    James T Blakeman & Co’s recognition of more climate friendly alternatives that perform to a higher standard was one of the driving factors behind the replacement of R404a – a widely used refrigerant accounting for 46% of worldwide F-Gases – for ammonia, which has zero global warming and ozone depleting potential. 

    With an overriding commitment to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, James T Blakeman was looking to achieve long-term sustainability and at the same time avoid future increases in HFC refrigerant costs, linked to a decline in their availability.

    In conjunction with Starfrost, one of the Star Group of Companies, Star Refrigeration introduced and installed a new inverter driven Glacier GP2 and spiral freezer system which ensures the continued freezing of cooked sausages for James T Blakeman.

    Kevin Moller, Factory Manager at James T Blakeman & Co, said, “The spiral freezer/chiller system features a stainless steel dual conveyor belt around a single rotating drum, with 28 tiers in total. The dual twin belt with additional side guards allows us to process multiple products simultaneously, giving increased flexibility to the processing line. The product belts also have a stainless steel interior panel, which offers a more hygienic, easy to clean solution.”

    “Our spiral system has been designed to maximise uptime and requires minimal ongoing maintenance. In addition, the temperature control and unique airflow is specially designed for our delicate products, such as skin on sausages, ensuring product quality is maintained for our customers.”

    Star Refrigeration and Starfrost offered a turnkey solution for the sausage manufacturer, installing a zero carbon ammonia plant rated at 159kw at - 42°C SST. The product throughput of the spiral is 900kg per hour of cooked sausage, at an inlet of 85°C and discharging of -18°C. One of the key benefits of this upgrade was energy efficiency. The Glacier uses ammonia, which besides being a naturally occurring gas which has zero GWP for a real eco boost, it is a highly efficient and low-cost refrigerant. In fact, it is 25% more efficient than its HFCs counterparts.

    Phillip Blakeman, Managing Director of James T Blakeman & Co, said, “As an existing customer of Star Refrigeration, we already know the company can provide excellent service levels. We have trusted Star with other installations and aftercare solutions, and they have proven to be highly reliable.”

     “We’re very satisfied with the smooth running of the installation and the post-commissioning process. The new solution has offered us security for the future and we feel it has met all the criteria specified.” 

    The food manufacturers’ power reduction requirements were met by installing an inverter to eliminate high spikes when starting the motor. This resulted in energy savings for the Newcastle based meat company. Kevin Fieldsend, Sales Manager – Food at Star Refrigeration, says, “The project with James T Blakeman & Co has been very successful. We replaced their old system with a solid, energy efficient and environmentally conscious solution that will ensure the performance 

    of the production site for at least another 20 years. Star offered a one point of contact solution to cover all their requirements, which resulted in a straightforward and cost effective job.”

    Independent specialist consultants Star Technical Solutions (STS), a business of Star Refrigeration, were the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) coordinators. 

    STS Director David Blackhurst said, “We are pleased with the overall process. All parts involved delivered on time and on budget. The customer has received a robust solution, which includes site training for operators, as well as Ammonia Hazard Risk Assessment (pre and post project) and Written Scheme of Examination (WSE) to ensure legal compliance of the business.”

    Star Refrigeration’s long-standing relationship with the “Supreme Sausage” manufacturer is down to understanding the strict demands of a company with a reputation for consistent high quality produce. Star have worked with the wholesaler on other projects, including a central ammonia plant serving two more spiral freezers and a single spiral freezer, and maintenance contracts including ongoing maintenance for the new installation to ensure the refrigeration plant remains reliable and efficient.


  • Pinneys Annan


    Pinneys of Scotland, part of the Youngs Seafood Group, is a leading processor of Scottish smoked salmon and are based at Annan, Dumfriesshire. Cooling is a key requirement for their production processes and the majority of the factory was installed using systems operating with R22 refrigerant. Under the Montreal Protocol and subsequent European and UK legislation, the phasing out of R22 comes to a conclusion at the end of 2014 and so Pinneys needed to develop a strategy to meet this deadline.

    Pinneys asked their existing maintenance provider, Star Refrigeration for support with their phase out strategy. This involved looking at a variety of high, medium and low temperature cooling requirements on site currently running on R22 and assessing an appropriate alternative solution. Key requirements were to keep the facility operational during the changeover from R22, provide  a solution that offered long term cooling security for the site and to deliver a solution that balanced efficiency and capital cost.

    A number of options were considered including retrofitting systems with alterative gases, installing new HFC refrigeration systems and switching to natural refrigerants. 

    A critical part of the R22 strategy was conversion of the factory’s cold store where frozen product is stored at -25°C before further processing.  This chamber was cooled by two existing R22 refrigeration plants housed in different plant rooms. Both plants were assessed for possible gas conversion but due to their age, condition and the need to retain the cold store operation during any conversion works, this was ruled out. A decision was therefore made to look at new equipment.  

    One of the R22 plant rooms had been earmarked as the location for a new ammonia/glycol refrigeration plant which would serve other areas of the factory and the other was ruled out due to access issues. This meant that any new equipment would need to be located elsewhere. Pinneys were keen to avoid the added cost of building a new plant room and so packaged equipment with its own enclosure was preferred.

    Options for refrigeration plant using synthetic refrigerants such as R404A and R407F were considered but Pinneys were concerned about the long term availability of these refrigerants following news of the phase down programme detailed in the European f-gas regulation earlier in 2014. A decision was made to look at natural refrigerant alternatives.

    Star proposed their Azanefreezer system, an air-cooled, ammonia refrigeration system for cold storage applications.  Its packaged design avoids the need for a plant room and it can be located at ground or roof level on either a concrete plinth or steel frame. Azanefreezer’s combination of ammonia refrigerant, Star low pressure receive technology, EC fan and PLC control technology delivers efficiencies 15% to 20% higher than traditional HFC technology and with a refrigerant charge that is 80% less than pumped circulation ammonia.

    Two pipes between the Azanefreezer package and cold store evaporators keeps site installation time to a minimum. All equipment requiring regular inspection is located within the package, simplifying maintenance and eliminates the need for roof void valve stations.

    Alex Henderson, Key Account Manager at Star Refrigeration said, “As a long standing maintenance customer, we have been working with Pinneys for a number of years. The latest project involved the development of a long term refrigeration solution for the Coldstore plant as well as the rest of the site. It has reduced the amount of refrigeration equipment and helped improve both operating temperatures and efficiency.

    Using our packaged Azanefreezer concept avoided the need for a new plant room and we were able to position and commission the new coldstore plant before decommissioning the existing equipment.”

    Gary Parker, Pinneys Engineering Manager, said “Star Refrigeration have a long history of installing and maintaining plants both at Pinneys and also across the wider Young's Seafood group. 

    This is our first ammonia system at Annan and Azanefreezer’s low ammonia charge was a big reason for selecting it over more conventional ammonia solutions. Since its installation, our cold store temperatures have noticeably improved.”

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s leading independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 300 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK. Star’s technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost; mechanical and electrical contractor Star Mechanical and Electrical Solutions; internet-based learning solutions i-know.com; and Star Renewable Energy providing natural fluid district heat pump technology.


  • Anglian Meats


    Star Refrigeration has recently completed the installation of a new cold store facility within an existing warehouse building for pet food manufacturer and distributor, Anglian Meat Products Ltd.

    Anglian Meat Products is a leading manufacturer and distributor of frozen and ambient pet food products exported to over 20 overseas territories, whose portfolio includes the Natures Menu and Prize Choice pet food ranges. Due to continued business growth and space constraints at their original storage depot in Leeds, Anglian Meat Products took the opportunity to move into larger warehouse premises when they became available on the same industrial estate.

    Unlike their original depot, the new warehouse premises comprised no cold storage facility and as such, cooling solutions specialist Star Refrigeration was approached to design and manage the total solutions installation of a new 70 pallet -18°C refrigerated cold storage chamber. As well as the cold store refrigeration plant and insulated structure, Star was also responsible for upgrading the mains and sub-mains electrical distribution within the building, cold store lighting, emergency lighting, small power, builders work to accommodate the new condensing units, evaporator support steelwork and the role of Principal Contractor and CDM Co-ordinator as defined by the CDM Regulations 2007.

    Anglian Meats Managing Director, Scott Maunder, says: "Star’s ability to deliver a total solution meant that we could undertake this project on a satellite site with minimal input, whilst confident of a successful outcome. They developed a cost effective, energy efficient solution and delivered it on time and within budget."

    The cold store chamber measures around 850 cubic metres and requires to be maintained at a temperature of -18°C. Cooling is provided by two independent refrigeration plants operating on a direct expansion basis with the synthetic refrigerant R404a.

    The two refrigeration plants each comprise a ceiling mounted evaporator connected to an air cooled condensing unit. The capacity of each plant is nominally 14kW i.e. 60% of the estimated maximum heat load.

    The plants have been designed with efficiency in mind, incorporating the use of electronic expansion valves and ‘defrost on demand’ functionality. The use of electronic expansion valves means that the plants can operate at lower head pressures for significant periods of the year and also that much closer superheat control is achieved, thereby increasing the wetted surface area within the evaporator and enhancing performance. The use of electronic valves guarantees optimised performance all year round regardless of load on the plant, and enables energy savings of around 15 to 20% when compared to an equivalent system fitted with a standard thermostatic valve.

    The newly installed evaporator controllers not only look after control of the electronic expansion valve, but also incorporate a ‘defrost on demand’ functionality. This enables significant energy savings when compared with standard timed defrost systems, as the evaporator is only defrosted when required, thereby avoiding the introduction of unnecessary heat into the store.

    Anglian Meats are delighted that initial records show the new plant is consuming 15% to 20% less energy.

    Star provides total cooling solutions for refrigeration, air conditioning and process cooling. The company offers a turnkey supply and support package to all users of cooling equipment. Star continues to invest in the development of new products to provide energy conscious cooling systems for the benefit of customers and the environment.


  • Apetito


    Star Refrigeration has completed a refrigeration plant upgrade for frozen food and catering specialist Apetito at its manufacturing facility in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

    Star undertook a major overhaul of Apetito’s existing refrigeration system to boost reliability and reduce equipment downtime. By updating the plant control system and replacing ageing components, Star has also improved energy efficiency and reduced running costs for Apetito.

    For over 50 years, Apetito has provided frozen food and catering solutions to care homes, local authorities and hospitals. The award-winning company also provides a frozen meal home delivery service across the UK via the Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise network.

    Originally installed by Star in 1995, Apetito’s bespoke ammonia LPR (Low Pressure Receiver) system features four refrigeration plants providing multi-temperature cooling. The system supplies over 800kW of cooling for blast freezing and chilling, production areas, a cold store and series of chill stores at the Trowbridge manufacturing facility.

    Star was awarded the Apetito contract following a competitive tender process. The Total Solution project was completed over 15 weekends, with all work taking place outside factory operation periods to prevent any disruption to production. Star acted as principle contractor throughout the project, with Star Technical Solutions (STS) acting as coordinator for CDM (Construction Design & Management) regulations.

    Operations Manager Andy Bone of Apetito says: “Star Refrigeration worked closely with Apetito throughout the project, and a carefully phased programme of work ensured there was no disruption to production. We’re confident that the plant upgrade and new energy enhancing control system will enable us to operate more efficiently, with less production downtime and lower running costs.”

    The Apetito cooling plant upgrade included the removal of evaporative condensers and associated ducting from inside the factory. Star replaced these condensers with 10% larger models to reduce compressor power consumption. The new condensers are supported on a steel frame outside the building with access gantries for ease of maintenance.

    The project included the replacement of an obsolete control system with a new Star PLC control system. This provides Apetito with the very latest refrigeration management system, with broadband enabled remote monitoring.

    Star also fitted its energy efficient Aether control system to optimise condenser fan operation. This computerised PLC motor and pressure control system features a night-time function to reduce fan speed and noise to help meet the site’s environmental requirements.

    Star was also responsible for installing a new water treatment system for the condensers and a new ammonia detection system. A new corridor cooling/dehumidifying system was designed to reduce moisture ingress to the cold store and increase operational efficiency.

    Following the completion of the upgrade project, Apetito is now benefiting from Starcare, Star’s planned, preventative maintenance (PPM) programme for refrigeration plant operators. This proactive PPM programme ensures optimum longterm performance and reliability, to increase energy efficiency and reduce lifecycle costs.

    When it comes to designing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with strategic partners across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.


  • Blakeman's Stoke


    Leading UK sausage manufacturer Blakeman’s has employed the joint expertise of Starfrost and Star Refrigeration to supply a high efficiency freezing system at its new £4m production facility.

    Freezing and chilling technology specialist Starfrost has installed two custom built Helix spiral freezers for raw sausage production at Blakeman’s showpiece Staffordshire factory. Starfrost’s parent company Star Refrigeration supplied an environmentally responsible plant to provide energy efficient cooling for the new freezing system. Star also installed new cooling systems to supply the factory’s storage and processing areas.

    James T Blakeman & Co Ltd is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of over 50 sausage and meat products to ready meal, catering and fast food industries. The company has invested in a new industry-leading manufacturing facility to accommodate increasing orders from customers and double production capacity.

    As part of the development programme, Blakeman’s was looking to upgrade from a traditional blast freezing process to a fully automated inline freezing system for a variety of sausage products. Increased energy efficiency, maximum throughput and consistently high quality products were key drivers in sourcing an equipment supplier.

    Company Managing Director, Philip Blakeman, says: “Starfrost was able to supply a bespoke system with a unique air-flow, designed for fast, energy efficient and uniform freezing of different products. Through working together with Star Refrigeration, Starfrost offered a total solution or ‘one stop shop’ for our freezing requirements, which also met our overall environmental policy.”

    He adds: “By combining fully qualified staff with the highest quality ingredients and the world’s best equipment, we are now able to produce a consistently high standard of product.”

    Starfrost custom designed, built and installed two in-line Helix Spiral freezers for Blakeman’s – a twin and a single belt system. The twin belt system allows two different product lines to be processed simultaneously. It features two 760mm wide conveyor belts, each with 18 tiers spiralling around a single rotating drum. The single belt system features a 37-tier spiral. Each freezer is capable of processing up to 3,000kg/hr of raw sausage products.

    Cooling for both freezers is provided by Star Refrigeration’s ammonia pump circulation plant. The plant has a total cooling capacity of 650kW and operates on a high efficiency natural refrigerant to meet Blakeman's environmentally conscious policy.

    It features two screw compressors, one surge drum, evaporative condenser and Star’s Telstar PLC control system, with energy enhancing features to maximise performance. The packaged plant was designed to fit the space restrictions of an existing plant room, with surge drum and condenser located on the roof of the building.

    The factory’s processing area also benefitted from new food specification cooling equipment. Refrigeration plant designed by Star was coupled to existing equipment relocated from a separate Blakeman’s facility. This ensured a high quality installation, whilst operating within the customer’s budget.

    Starfrost’s Helix Spirals have a low tension, flat belt design for ultimate durability and require minimal maintenance. Available with a range of belt sizes and tier heights, the Helix system can be designed to process from 500kg/hr, to capacities over 6,000kg/hr.

    Starfrost’s Helix Spiral is suitable for freezing and chilling food that requires medium to long retention times, such as ready meals, poultry, pizzas, potato products, desserts, pastries, and ice-cream. A product specific “guided flow” air circulation system that can be vertical, horizontal or a combination of directions, ensures quick and even freezing without excessive air speeds.

    Star is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems.


  • Braehead SFO


    A Scottish seafood processor has cut over 25% from its annual energy bill by investing in a high efficiency cooling system from Star Refrigeration.

    Braehead (SFO Enterprises) is a seafood processing company run by the Scottish
    Fishermen’s Organisation (SFO). The firm operates a large processing facility in the coastal town of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland.

    Braehead (SFO Enterprises) is a key producer of high quality whole Scottish langoustine, landed by SFO members. The company processes and supplies the fresh and frozen Scottish shellfish to retail and food service markets across Europe.

    The company was looking for an energy efficient and environmentally conscious cooling system to replace aging refrigeration plant at its langoustine processing facility in Fraserburgh. The existing plant operated on R22 gas, a HCFC refrigerant with high global warming potential that is currently being phased out by European legislation.

    A world leader in cooling and heating system innovation, Glasgow-based Star designed and supplied a bespoke multi-temperature refrigeration plant for Braehead (SFO Enterprises). The plant supplies a total of 460kW of cooling to three cold store chambers, an in-line freezing tunnel and a blast freezer.

    Star handled the removal of the existing R22 plant and installed a single stage economised pumped circulation cooling system, with two Star built compressors and a surge drum/economiser package, all operating on natural ammonia refrigerant. The plant provides 270kW of cooling for the three cold store chambers (-25°C), 190kW for the freezing tunnel (-40°C) and 65kW of cooling for the blast freezer (-35°C).

    Star’s Operations Director, John Fraser, says: “Star secured the contract following a competitive tender process and recommendation from an independent survey by the Carbon Trust. Our competitors specified HFC refrigeration systems, but the client was ultimately looking for an environmentally sound and energy efficient solution.”

    He adds: “Star’s low charge ammonia plant uses an environmentally benign refrigerant in terms of global warming and ozone depletion. Highly efficient operation was key to the plant’s design and an advanced control system ensures an energy saving, low carbon cooling solution. We’re delighted that the client’s energy bills are less than 75% of the previous cost.”

    Star’s Telstar PLC computerised control system ensures optimum plant performance, with HMI touch screen interface. Plant operation can be monitored remotely and power consumption is measured and input into the Telstar system, which produces a graphic record of performance. The Telstar system hardware and control panels were supplied by Star M&E Solutions, Star’s mechanical and electrical contracting company.

    The operating efficiency of the plant is further enhanced by Star’s energy saving Aether system, which automatically reduces condenser fan speed and uses floating head pressure control to optimise performance. Further energy saving features include high efficiency motors, evaporative condenser, automatic leak detection and a hot gas defrost system.

    A new weatherproof plant room adjacent to the main building houses the plant’s compressor packages, whilst the surge drum and evaporative condenser are located outdoors. The new refrigeration plant at Braehead (SFO Enterprises) site is now benefiting from Starcare, Star’s planned, preventative maintenance (PPM) programme for refrigeration plant operators run form the local branch office in Aberdeen.

    When it comes to designing and maintaining energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with strategic partners across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.


  • Fraserburgh Fish Market


    Star Refrigeration has completed a turnkey building refurbishment and cooling system installation project at the famous Fraserburgh Fish Market in Scotland.

    In a contract valued at over £1million, Star designed and installed a flexible and energy efficient cooling system for two market buildings. As principal contractor on the refurbishment project, Star also took responsibility for coordinating all associated building works including insulation, lighting and electrics, plumbing, fire alarms and security systems.

    Market operators the Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners required a new refrigeration system for temperature control in two market buildings. One building was already insulated and partially temperature controlled, but the system needed to be upgraded to meet current standards. The second building required new insulation and refrigeration equipment.

    Both quayside buildings were being used for the intake and distribution of seafood direct from fishing vessels. Star had to carefully phase construction work to allow the market to continue to operate, with the landing and sale of white fish and shellfish to the trade.

    Star designed a cooling system with in-built flexibility to accommodate varying trawler landings at Fraserburgh. The plant features three refrigeration units in each building. Each unit operates independently, providing cooling for a different building section. This provides the flexibility to control building temperature exactly as required.

    Each building is approximately 4,500m³ and has an operating temperature requirement of zero to two degrees centigrade. The plant capacity of 190kW is provided by compressor receiver units linked to very low air velocity evaporators within the market buildings and roof mounted air-cooled condensers.

    Additional building works managed by Star included the reinforcement of existing steelwork to accommodate the weight of coolers and insulated panels. Star’s Aberdeen branch installed the refrigeration system and pipework and also coordinated insulation works, including new ‘up and over’ quayside and roadside doors.

    Commenting on the project, Star Refrigeration Sales Director Rob Lamb says: “The Fraserburgh Fish Market project demonstrates that Star is a total solutions provider. In our role as principal contractor we worked closely with Harbour Board staff, who assisted us greatly to ensure the facility remained operational throughout each planned construction phase.”

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.

    Star has an unrivalled track record of high quality products and services across a broad range of industry sectors including food production, cold storage and distribution, brewing and distilling, building services, leisure, pharmaceutical and petrochemical.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.


  • Greggs Electrical Refurbishment


    A major incident occurred at one of Star Refrigeration’s key customers in the North East, Greggs PLC in the early hours of Monday 1st October 2012.

    A major electrical fire within one of the 250kW compressor starter control panels caused unrepairable damage to itself and also an adjoining control panel. This contained the Telstar MK3 control equipment for the 1215kW Ammonia Spiral Freezer plant, originally installed by Star in 1997.

    The Greggs factory at Longbenton, Newcastle, is the heartbeat of Greggs’ bakery production for the whole of the UK. The severity of the fire resulted in the 3 Spiral Freezers immediately being unavailable for production. As Greggs' specialist refrigeration contractor, Star had to react immediately to re-establish production at the earliest opportunity.

    Star was faced with several key challenges from the outset; the local branch engineers at Newcastle were immediately despatched to support the operation on the ground. This meant working 24 hour shifts in an attempt to establish and keep the plant running, albeit in manual operation with 24 hour site cover. Despite extensive water damage in all remaining control panels, this was achieved in a little over three days!

    The main challenge away from site saw Star designing, manufacturing and installing 4 new control panels complete with Telstar PLC controls in record breaking time, whilst ensuring 2 out of 3 WRV Howden compressors were kept running at all times. This was a huge test for both Star and Star Mechanical & Electrical Solutions (SMES) who, quite simply, rose to the challenge outstandingly.

    When Martin Price, Installation & Controls Manager of SMES, first heard about the incident at Greggs, he quite rightly indicated that this type of project would “usually take some 10-12 weeks from start to finish.”

    Greggs’ operation, with concerns of meeting customer demands for their products leading up to Christmas, could not accept this time period so they empowered their trust in Star and challenged the Star team to complete the project in just 6 weeks.

    The local branch was under immense pressure to deliver, so they called on the company’s vast array of resources to ensure that the project was completed on time.

    “It was a fantastic team effort, they did us proud” – George Barnes, Greggs Head of Engineering

    Team Star, which comprised the Glasgow design department, SMES panel design and manufacture team in Derby, Star’s national commissioning team, the local branch management team, engineering technicians from both Newcastle/Leeds branches and BMS electrical contractors each played their own pivotal role in delivering the project on time – in just 6 weeks.

    SMES’s expertise and capability enabled them to design and manufacture 4 new control panels in a record space of time – the first control panel being delivered and commissioned on site within 2 weeks of the fire!

    The Star team were able to meet the challenges set by Greggs in delivering the project on time and they also took the opportunity to improve the overall plant controls within the new PLC programme; redesigning it to help alleviate several plant issues which, due to the plants increased duty, were affecting production reliability.

    The main issue was the number of high/low surge drum level faults the site was experiencing due to the continued growth of the spirals to satisfy production.

    Star were able to improve the system so that controlling of the spiral freezers during start-up, freeze, defrost and unscheduled periods of downtime were all vastly improved.

    “This was the most severe incident I have witnessed in over 25 years. The hard work and long hours put in by our teams should not be underestimated” – Jeff Little, Operations Training Manager, Star Refrigeration

    The final piece of the jigsaw for the project was a new SCADA package, which captures every single plant event complete with data logging and VCR playback, thus ensuring the history of plant operation is visible at all times for both Greggs and Star.


  • Macrae Ammonia Plant


    Star Refrigeration has completed a major £1.3M cooling project in partnership with leading seafood processing firm Macrae Edinburgh, at a brand new facility in Livingston.

    Macrae Edinburgh is the long-standing partner of supermarket chain Waitrose, supplying a wide range of ready-to-eat seafood. The company is part of the Macrae Food Group, one of the UK’s largest seafood processing firms and a subsidiary of Young’s Seafood Limited.

    Cooling solutions specialist Star partnered Macrae Edinburgh on the design and installation of a refrigeration system at its new seafood processing plant in Livingston. The state-of-the-art facility is designed for processing smoked salmon, mackerel and shellfish for Waitrose.

    Star worked hand-in-hand with Macrae Edinburgh throughout the project. After advising on various technical options and plant design, Star and Macrae developed a cooling solution that offered optimum performance and value.

    Star’s partnering approach included agreeing a guaranteed maximum price and ensuring the project was delivered on budget. Star’s refrigeration plant is energy efficient and environmentally conscious.

    It provides cooling for chilling and freezing equipment, as well as various cold storage and seafood processing areas on site.

    The chilled glycol system operates with ammonia as the primary refrigerant. The plant offers numerous benefits including low maintenance and reduced energy consumption, as well as the environmental advantages associated with ammonia as a natural refrigerant.

    Cooling to the factory is provided at two temperature levels. Low temperature (-37°C) ammonia is circulated to a spiral freezer and three blast freezers. Propylene glycol is pumped to air coolers serving blast chillers, holding areas and air handling units for working areas.

    The refrigeration plant’s design incorporates a variety of energy saving features designed to minimise running costs. These include floating head pressure control, heat recovery off the high stage compressor discharge for water heating, hot gas defrosting, optimised compressor sequencing control and an automatic air purger.

    The refrigeration plant features a computerised control system for monitoring and optimising operating conditions. Star-owned electrical contractors Penec provided the refrigeration wiring and starter/control panels for the project.

    The project forms the latest in a long line of work completed by Star for the Macrae Food Group, spanning four decades. In the last four years Star has partnered Macrae on three major refrigeration plant installations at its Fraserburgh site.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.


  • Nestle Halifax


    Star Refrigeration has been providing Nestlé UK with refrigeration solutions since 1990 and this strong partnership led to the latest challenge for Star. The challenge was to find a Heat Pump solution for reducing the Nestlé Halifax factories refrigeration and heating energy demands.

    The Nestlé Halifax team had previously completed an energy audit on their central coal fired boilers, the steam distribution and all of the end user heating systems throughout the factory. This enabled the team to clearly identify, grade and consolidate the various end user heating requirements which identified significant design and operational inefficiencies.

    Previously one central coal fired steam generation plant served all of the individual end users, where high grade steam would be degraded to suit the processes. The new concept was to simply heat the water to the desired process temperature and the Star Neatpump would serve to provide hot water to end users requiring 60°C and to preheat those operating in excess of 60°C.

    Nestlé’s global commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its operation, demands the use of natural refrigerants for all new factory process refrigeration equipment. This presented a number of challenges for Star as heat pumps until now had been either HFC dependent, which was not an option, or they had utilised reciprocating compressors which were beginning to show high regular maintenance costs or with screw compressors operating at their limit.

    Star Refrigeration, Vilter Manufacturing Inc (USA) and Cool Partners (a Danish consultancy) formed a collaborative effort to devise a high pressure heat pump solution using ammonia and screw compressors up to 90°C. This enabled Star to comfortably take heat from the 0°C process glycol at -5°C and lift it to 60°C in one stage for heating.

    Their challenge was to utilise a heat pump that drew electrical energy and thereby reduced the load on the proposed replacement gas fired equipment. Alternative solutions such as geothermal and CHP were considered, but the client recognised that these technologies imposed limitations to future land resale and/or development and high annual maintenance charges offsetting the predicated savings in cheaper electricity.

    A key stage for the Vilter/Star/Cool Partners (VSC) team was the establishment of bespoke selection software as it was essential to know how to assess the overall effectiveness of the system. Previous projects had been assessed in terms of COP. This project needed to be COPc for “cooling effect/absorbed power.” In addition, COPh for “heating effect/divided by absorbed power” was required, but the real measure of the heating efficiency is COPhi. This is the total heating capacity divided by the net difference in compressor absorbed power between the design cooling only condensing condition and the heat pump design condensing condition.

    Based on the clients' previously measured heating and cooling load profiles, the analysis showed that to meet the projected hot water heating demands from the ‘Total Loss’ and ‘Closed Loop’ circuits, the selected heat pump compressors would have to produce 1.25MW of high grade heat. To achieve this demand, the equipment selected offers 914kW of refrigeration capacity with an absorbed power rating of 346kW. The combined heating and cooling COP, COPhc, is calculated to be a modest 6.25. For an uplift of 17k in discharge pressure the increase in absorbed power was 108kW, boosting the COPhi to an impressive 11.57.

    Without Nestlé’s commitment to research and logging site energy performance, it would have been impossible to gauge how much can be saved by using the waste heat from the cooling process. Since plant handover in May 2010 Nestlé Halifax are heating around 54,000lts of towns water each day to 60°C, which costs around £10, saving some £30,000pa on gas. By late 2010 site will be utilising a further 250kW of waste heat for their Closed Loop systems and by mid 2011 the demand on all heating systems is set to double.

    Nestlé can save an estimated £143,000pa in heating costs, and 119,100kg in carbon emissions by using a Star Neatpump. Despite the new refrigeration plant providing both heating and cooling, it consumes £120,000 less electricity per annum than the previous cooling only plant.


  • Nestle UK Hayes


    In Hayes, Middlesex towards the end of last year a world premiere occurred, but it passed with relatively little comment, no national press coverage, and certainly none of the razzmatazz that would accompany such an event on the other side of the Atlantic. For the first time, certainly in this generation of refrigeration engineers, a large, low temperature industrial refrigeration system had been commissioned using a cascade between carbon dioxide and ammonia as the working fluids in the plant. There is almost certainly no comparable system currently anywhere in the world; although the success of the Hayes project means that several more will undoubtedly follow in quick succession.

    The Hayes plant is used by Nestlé UK in the production of freeze dried and spray dried coffee, including the world famous Nescafe brand. The choice of such a system in such a high profile and product-critical system may at first sight seem unusual, but there were clear and strong imperatives which made the choice a simple one. Nestlé’s factory in Hayes has been in production since 1913, originally producing chocolate and more recently coffee. The freeze drying line was installed in the 1960s and has seen several refrigeration plant refits since then. Until now the refrigeration requirements have been met by a central plant using pumped R22 at several temperature levels, but for almost ten years it had been clear to a few of Nestlé’s refrigeration experts that the successful replacement of the R22 system with a more acceptable alternative would be necessary in order to continue coffee production on the site. The factory still makes chocolate, including Milky Bars, and this had to be unaffected by any coffee refrigeration work. In addition, the art deco building is a famous local landmark and is recognised as a work of architectural heritage.

    Paradoxically, the challenges posed by the existing production lines and the traditional style of the building were key to the selection of this mould-breaking system. The existing R22 plant requires extremely large suction pipework. Running ammonia pipework through the same spaces without first decommissioning the R22 plant would have been impossible – the ammonia suction pipes would have been over 800mm diameter when insulated. Using carbon dioxide as the refrigerant provided a much more dense gas for the suction pipes and enabled the line size to be reduced to 150mm diameter. In addition, the suction pressure is about 8 Bar, so many of the traditional problems of running low temperature refrigeration plant in a vacuum are completely avoided. An early design study conducted by Star Refrigeration showed that the carbon dioxide plant would be cheaper to install than any of the alternatives considered, including a two-stage ammonia plant.

    While carbon dioxide requires a cascade condenser (which acts as the ammonia evaporator), the higher cost of this vessel compared with a standard intercooler is more than offset by savings made in the price of low stage compressors and site pipework.

    The compressors required for carbon dioxide are roughly one-eighth the size of equivalent capacity ammonia machines. In fact the projected installation cost for the cascade system was about 13% less than the ammonia equivalent. The small size of carbon dioxide pumps required, and the relatively good efficiency of the compressors led to a predicted system coefficient of performance marginally better on carbon dioxide than on two-stage ammonia. The pre-study predicted a difference of 5% in overall plant efficiency, primarily because the carbon dioxide compressors were expected to be more efficient.

    The plant operates on two low temperature levels, -48oC and –54oC, and in addition has a small side load, also on carbon dioxide, at –16 oC. The total low temperature capacity, which is handled by the carbon dioxide compressors, is 2,400kW. The side load is met by pumping high pressure carbon dioxide from the HP receiver to the load and returning the evaporated gas to the compressor discharge line, so there is no load on the low temperature stage.

    One slightly unusual feature of this highly unusual plant was that the low temperature system pipework was all stainless steel. Although this gives some benefits in corrosion resistance, the main reason for its selection was the high strength of stainless steel at low temperatures. The pipework and fittings were therefore readily available, whereas special low temperature carbon steel could have been much more difficult to obtain. The stainless steel pipe can also be thinner wall and hence lighter and easier to handle than carbon steel. As a result it was estimated that there was no substantial cost penalty for the use of stainless. The only negative aspect to this choice was a concern about chloride attack on the outer surface, so great care was taken in surface preparation before insulating, and in the selection of suitable adhesives for the insulation.

    To gain experience of many aspects of carbon dioxide use at low temperatures, Nestlé UK installed a demonstration unit to chill air in a low temperature cold store before the main project. The demonstration unit was fitted with a Bitzer screw compressor and a Hermetique pump, and was connected to the existing R22 system using a brazed plate heat exchanger as the carbon dioxide condenser. 

    The demonstration plant used polyol ester oil, and gave very good performance characteristics for the evaporator. Although there were no problems with the oil in the low side of the system it was found to be difficult to return it from the surge drum, and as a result it was decided that the main plant should be equipped with oil-free compressors. Given the lack of experience world wide with oil injected compressors for this type of application at the time the Hayes project was being installed, this was a wise decision. However thanks to a huge development push in the last two years, at least four screw compressor manufacturers, including Grasso, Mycom and York, have introduced screw compressors for carbon dioxide, and it seems certain that many more enhancements will follow in the near future.

    The oil free compressors selected were by Quiri Refrigeration of France – a very traditional design of reciprocating compressor with three double acting cylinders in a W configuration. These compressors have a long track record of use on many recovery plants, typically raising nominally dry carbon dioxide from atmospheric pressure and temperature to about 20 bar. The machines selected were capable of 800kW at a suction pressure of -54oC, and were fitted with inverter drives to enable the capacity to be matched to the load at commissioning.

    The system commissioning started in December 2000, but the phased installation process required to avoid production disruption continued until September 2001, when the plant reached full load. Operating experience so far has shown both evaporator and compressor performance to be even better than predicted. Some early piston ring and shaft seal wear problems were experienced with the compressors as a result of the exceptional dryness of the carbon dioxide. These have been resolved by the selection of an alternative material with self-lubricating properties, and the compressors have now run for about 5,000 hours. One substantial benefit which was not foreseen is that the new system is significantly easier to operate than the previous R22 plant, despite the complexity of the distributed carbon dioxide network. This is because each stage of the cascade can be treated as an independent simple circuit.

    The successful completion of the project was celebrated by the Nestlé UK and Star Refrigeration project teams in January 2002. This included the world premiere performance of a fanfare called "Coffee Break" composed for the occasion in recognition of Nestlé’s world premiere. The fanfare may never be heard in public again, but the news of carbon dioxide in industrial installations will be repeated many times in the coming years.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 260 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.


  • New Britain Oils Limited


    Star Refrigeration successfully completed a Total Solutions project for sustainable palm oil producer New Britain Oils Ltd (NBOL). The Liverpool based company is part of New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL), the largest palm oil producer in Papua New Guinea and The Solomon Islands. NBOL only refines sustainable palm oil that has been independently certified against the standard defined by The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. Star Refrigeration’s ethos of using green sustainable refrigerants, coupled with high efficiency cooling equipment complements the vision and policies of NBOL.

    As part of their palm oil refining expansion programme Star worked alongside the NBOL project team and assisted in the development of the palm oil cooling system. Star designed, project managed, installed and commissioned an ammonia refrigeration plant to serve the clients new scraped surface heat exchangers.

    The refrigeration system was designed for high energy efficiency, low carbon footprint, longevity and reliability. Key design requirements involved minimising both noise and vibration.

    The major equipment consisted of a pair of inverter driven reciprocating compressors, a combined surge vessel/high pressure receiver package unit, an evaporative condenser and Star’s refrigeration management system.

    High efficiency was accomplished by using Star’s very own reciprocating inverter drive technology in conjunction with high efficiency drive motors. The compressor control philosophy further enhanced system energy efficiency characteristics. Heat rejection was achieved using an evaporative condenser complete with Star’s Aether condenser fan control system which reduces the annual operating costs by matching fan speed to ambient conditions and cooling load.

    Star achieved minimal noise and vibration through careful design of the compressor plinth. Pipework was designed and installed to prevent the transmission of the vibration through the brackets into the building structure.

    Rapid variation in the production process load meant that the system needed to respond quickly to an instantaneous reduced or increased cooling requirement whilst also maintaining stable temperatures. Star’s compressor control system varies compressor speed to match cooling capacity to the production heat loads. This ensures optimum system efficiency, high reliability and most importantly, continuous production.

    Star’s in-depth knowledge of chilling food products with scraped surface heat exchangers was significant. A key feature of the installation is Star’s bespoke combined surge drum receiver which transfers any liquid that returns from the process back to the high pressure receiver within minutes. During commissioning this proved to be of paramount importance in maintaining product trials.

    As part of Star Refrigeration’s Total Solutions package NBOL employed Star Technical Solutions to carry out an Ammonia Hazard Assessment (based on DSEAR and Health and Safety Regulations). STS also carried out the written scheme of examination. Star M&E Solutions designed and supplied the electrical panels and carried out the entire electrical installation.

    When it comes to designing energy efficient cooling systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with clients across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.


  • Northern Foods, Palethorpes


    Cooling specialist Star Refrigeration has completed a plant relocation and refurbishment project for one of the UK's leading food producers, Northern Foods.

    Northern Foods produces own label and branded convenience foods for major retailers. With production facilities across the UK and Eire, the company specialises in frozen, chilled and bakery products including ready meals, pastry products, snacks and pizza.

    In 2005 Northern Foods was looking to transfer production of chilled savoury products from a site in Evesham, Worcestershire, to its Palethorpes production facility in Shropshire. Existing processing equipment including a Starfrost spiral chiller and associated refrigeration plant was required to be relocated to a new factory extension at the Palethorpes facility in Market Drayton.

    Freezing and chilling equipment manufacturer Starfrost was called in to undertake this project for Northern Foods. Starfrost’s project team worked in conjunction with engineers from Star Refrigeration, a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry. The project demonstrates another successful joint venture for the two firms, since Starfrost was acquired by Star in 2004.

    Star’s first task involved decommissioning and dismantling the 250kW refrigeration plant on site at Evesham. The plant comprised two reciprocating compressors (run and standby), an evaporative condenser complete with water treatment equipment, plus high and low side vessels and electrical panels.

    The refrigeration components were then transported over 80 miles to a brand new purpose built plant room at the Palethorpes facility. The plant was reconstructed, tested and commissioned by Star engineers, before being cleaned and painted. New aluminium clad insulated pipework helped complete the transformation of the refurbished plant.

    Prior to relocation, the plant operated on the R22 gas refrigerant. Due to the current phase out programme, Star took the opportunity to replace R22 with Isceon (r) M079, a modern ‘drop-in’ gas refrigerant. Developed by Star and a chemical partner, R-422A removes the need for expensive system flushing and requires minimal plant modifications. The new refrigerant has also improved the performance of the plant’s compressor.

    The Starfrost Helix Spiral chiller had been in operation at the Evesham site for a number of years. The overall performance and condition of the chiller was deemed excellent and the machine only required minor refurbishment. Technical changes to the configuration of the system were required due to the layout of the new production line at Palethorpes. The direction of rotation within the chiller was reversed and the number of spiraling tiers was adjusted by Starfrost engineers.

    The installation of the chiller at Palethorpes was concurrent with the relocation and refurbishment of the refrigeration plant. This helped to ensure that connection, testing, commissioning and handover were completed on time and on budget.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s leading independent refrigeration engineering company. Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide, providing technical support at 11 locations across the UK. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.


  • R Y Henderson


    Cooling solutions specialist Star Refrigeration has completed work at a brand new state-of-the-art abattoir for one of Scotland’s largest beef and lamb processors.

    Based in Linlithgow, West Lothian, R Y Henderson produces a full range of bone-in and boneless primal meat cuts. Its customer base includes food service distributors, multiples, caterers, retailers and major manufacturers across the UK and Channel Islands.

    R Y Henderson has been producing top quality meat including beef, lamb and pork for more than 50 years. All livestock are sourced, slaughtered and processed through the company’s own abattoir. In 2005 the company announced exciting expansion plans and construction work began on a new abattoir development – the first greenfield new build in Scotland for 25 years.

    In order to meet the 65,000 sq ft facility’s post-slaughter refrigeration requirements, R Y Henderson sought expert advice from Star, a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry. Star was commissioned to design, build and install an industrial refrigeration system, in a contract valued at over half a million pounds.

    Star designed an innovative and environmentally conscious refrigeration plant with evaporative condenser to boost energy efficiency. The provision of waste heat recovery from the plant’s oil cooling circuit is capable of meeting 50% of the facility’s wash down and hot water requirements.

    The ammonia central chilling system features pumped propylene glycol as secondary refrigerant. Glycol is distributed through a network of pipes to 13 coolers, which serve various post-slaughter and meat production chill areas. In post-slaughter chill areas, air is distributed directly at the meat carcasses via a sock system to aid the cooling process. The primary ammonia refrigerant is confined to plant room areas to reduce risk.

    Star worked in conjunction with R Y Henderson and its project team to meet the challenging installation programme. The installation of the refrigeration plant has enabled R Y Henderson to boost production at the new facility to meet increased orders.

    R Y Henderson has invested over £6million in the new abattoir and processing plant. It was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne in September 2006.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s leading independent refrigeration engineering company. Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide, providing technical support at 11 locations across the UK.


  • RF Brookes Rogerstone


    Driving north from Newport towards Risca on the A467 along the banks of the River Ebbw you cannot fail to notice the new RF Brookes ready meals factory. Its smoothly curved roofline and sleek, silver cladding suggest a quiet confidence in a quality product.

    The factory, built by Bovis Europe at Rogerstone Park, covers 20,000 square metres. It provides sufficient capacity to relocate RF Brookes’ existing local facility from The Wern and will more than double the existing production capacity. This will provide a springboard for growth of their business with key brand name clients such as Marks & Spencer, Pizza Hut and Whitbread. The site will produce chilled and frozen meals for distribution throughout the United Kingdom and across Europe.

    The land, formerly the Pontyminster farm and hence a genuine “green field site”, was occupied early in 1998 for preliminary groundworks and a major construction project in the heart of a scenic Welsh valley, the project was subject to close scrutiny by the Welsh office and the Department of the Environment. Strict codes of practice relating to airborne, ground, water and noise pollution were laid down by RF Brookes and policed by Bovis. Design and construction work progressed rapidly, and the first services installations commenced early in November. The programme was driven by the need to meet key production dates in the third quarter of 1999, but the development of the RF Brookes business throughout the project meant that the design had to remain flexible for as long as possible.

    This required close contact between the RF Brookes team, the design team (architect, structural engineer and services consultant) and the squad of specialist sub-contractors who turned the plans into reality. This high degree of co-operation was achieved by Bovis through a management contract (JCT87) which brought the various groups together in regular services co-ordination meetings, and allowed frequent shifts in requirements to be incorporated into the scheme.

    Room temperatures are monitored throughout the factory to provide full traceability, and linked through the Allen-Bradley control system to a Rockwell RSView 32 control and data acquisition package. Control of the process environment and refrigeration systems is also achieved with Allen-Bradley plcs, with four separate plc racks in roof void control panels.

    The control software was designed on a modular basis to assist with initial commissioning and ongoing maintenance, but with over two hundred separate rooms to control there are many variations on each theme. All of the plant control is linked to the RSView 32 system allowing the site services engineer to check on the operation of process equipment, air handling systems and cooling plant from computers around the site. In the event of an alarm an auto-dial facility links to Star Refrigeration’s Bristol office to call out a standby engineer on 24-hour cover.

    Star provided a full Project Management, Design, Construction and Commissioning service for the factory’s refrigeration systems, air handling, heating, ventilation, extraction and office air-conditioning. All areas of the factory are climatically controlled to temperatures ranging from 3ºC to 18ºC and relative room air pressures are used to segregate low risk and high risk areas. With growing concern about the environmental effect of industrial installations, RF Brookes chose ammonia as the primary refrigerant. This gives high efficiency freezing at low temperatures and has no direct effect on ozone depletion or global warming. The secondary refrigerant used for chill areas and air handling units is a non-toxic, food-safe potassium salt solution.

    The main refrigeration plant comprises nine Howden ammonia screw compressors with ammonia pumped to the factory at –40ºC and –15ºC, and potassium brine at –7ºC and 0ºC. Star’s design for the compressor network optimised the flexibility of the plant, with compressors able to transfer from one cooling duty to another in order to keep the available capacity in balance with the load requirement.

    The services plant, including refrigeration, boilers, electrical distribution, sprinkler water storage tanks and maintenance workshop, is housed in a separate Energy Centre adjacent to the factory. The factory equipment includes five Frigoscandia Gyro freezers, four blast chillers, an 18,000m3 cold store and a 40,000m3 dispatch chill, as well as numerous smaller production rooms controlled at a variety of temperature and humidity levels. At the peak of the installation effort, Star had up to seventy five subcontract welders, pipefitters, insulators and electricians on site in addition to their own engineers.

    With a five-strong project team permanently on site, supported by a team of six designers at their head office in Glasgow, Star took on the task of co-ordinating all services in the roof void, including sprinklers, steam and water pipes, electrical services as well as their own primary and secondary refrigerant pipes, drains and air ductwork. This produced an integrated services installation with maximum flexibility and a minimum of unnecessary complication.

    In keeping with such an impressive facility the adjacent office building is well equipped to accommodate all the necessary support activities, including a test kitchen for new products, a restaurant and a 400 seat lecture theatre. The office air conditioning uses Mitsubishi splits with ozone-friendly R407C as the refrigerant.

    Four outdoor condensing units serve a total of fifty two fan-coil units which can provide heating or cooling to each zone within the office block.

    Despite the usual hurdles found on all major construction projects, Star Refrigeration’s team was able to start commissioning the refrigeration system in June 1999 as required. Process fit-out then started in earnest and the site is now well on its way to full production. The contract, for just under £7.5m, was the largest in Star’s thirty year history. It has provided a wealth of knowledge to an already experienced team.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK's largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.


  • RHM Group


    Star Refrigeration has completed two major projects for businesses within the RHM group, confirming its position as a key supplier of cooling solutions for the UK food industry.

    RHM is one of the largest food companies in the UK and Ireland, with over 50 European manufacturing sites. The company manufactures some of the leading brands in bread, cakes and groceries and supplies own label products for major retail customers.

    Star recently completed work on flagship refrigeration engineering projects at RHM’s Charnwood Foods site in Leicester and Avana Bakeries, Newport. The two refrigeration contracts were valued at over £2.2M in total. Star is currently working alongside a number of businesses within the RHM group to develop further specifications for energy efficient and cost effective cooling solutions.

    The Charnwood Foods and Avana Bakeries projects included ammonia refrigeration plants to serve Starfrost spiral freezers and chillers on both sites. As a natural refrigerant, ammonia is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. A low charge ammonia system is widely recognised as highly suited to food processing environments.

    Star also designed and installed a number of air cooled chiller packages. These supply cooling to process areas at Charnwood Foods and provide comfort cooling and product conditioning at the Avana Bakeries facility. A series of direct expansion (DX) refrigeration plants for cold stores and chill rooms were also included on both contracts.

    Star Refrigeration’s National Key Account Manager James Ward says: “Both projects required a range of cost effective and highly energy efficient refrigeration systems. Our engineering team worked closely with each client to develop cooling solutions that deliver best value and maximum operational efficiency.”

    Charnwood Foods manufactures pizza bases for one of the UK’s leading pizza restaurant and delivery chains. Over the past year the company has extended its manufacturing site in Leicester, doubling production capacity to meet increased customer demand. A range of cost effective and energy efficient refrigeration plants were central to the new manufacturing facility.

    Commenting on the completion of the refrigeration contract, Managing Director of Charnwood Foods Richard Cooper says: “Star’s expertise and the equipment installed has complemented other investment that has been made at Charnwood Foods. We have been able to make significant technical advancements in how we manufacture our product. We believe it is important to invest in new technology to make the business more competitive. It is equally important to work with business partners that deliver against their promise. Star has achieved both these key success criteria.”

    Avana Bakeries produces a wide range of cakes and desserts including famous name brands and own label products for major retailers. Earlier this year, a £21million regeneration project was completed at the company’s manufacturing site near Rogerstone, South Wales. It was vital that new refrigeration systems were efficient in operation and provided the company with the flexibility to process a wide range of products.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems. The company offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant.

    Established in Glasgow in 1970, Star has over 250 employees nationwide and provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.


  • Scotbeef


    Meat processor Scotbeef has chosen a high efficiency cooling system from Star Refrigeration for a factory extension at its facility in Stirling.

    Scotbeef is a major supplier of Aberdeen-Angus, Scottish beef and lamb products to supermarkets in the UK and across the European Union. The company was recently looking to extend its existing processing site at the Bridge of Allan, in Stirling.

    An energy efficient refrigeration system was required to provide cooling to three new beef processing rooms within the extended facility. It was vital that the cooling system provided accurate temperature control to a post slaughter chill area, beef quarters chill room and boning room.

    Scotbeef opted for a high efficiency ammonia packaged Azanechiller from Star Refrigeration to meet its cooling requirements. The client had visited Star’s manufacturing facility at Westway, near Glasgow, to see the Azanechiller in operation and was impressed by its build quality and low noise levels.

    Star’s Azanechiller is a complete refrigeration package, ideally suited to food and drink production, cold storage, distribution and process cooling. It offers exceptional operating efficiency and has a robust construction designed to provide over 20 years of hassle-free performance.

    Star was responsible for the design, supply, installation and commissioning of Scotbeef’s aircooled Azanechiller, including pumps with variable speed drives, six ceiling mounted glycol coolers and a computerised control system.

    Scotbeef’s low charge ammonia Azanechiller is a central pumped glycol system with a total cooling capacity of 365kW. The unit is fully packaged and located externally.

    Suitable for cooling both water and glycol, Azanechiller was developed by Star for environmentally conscious end users. Ammonia is a naturally occurring refrigerant with zero ozone depletion potential and zero global warming potential. Each unit is pre-charged and factory tested ready for fast installation.

    Star Refrigeration Key Account Manager Grant Buchanan says: “Azanechiller typically offers a 30% increase in performance compared with standard HFC chillers. Its packaged design and careful component selection result in an ultra low refrigerant charge, with all ammonia contained within the chiller and sited outside the facility.”

    He adds: “As a complete refrigeration package, Azanechiller is easy to install. Only an electrical supply and flow/return pipework is required to provide cooling. This cuts down site installation and commissioning time, whilst also avoiding the need for a plant room.”

    Azanechiller is available as an air-cooled or water-cooled unit with cooling capacity from 200kW to 850kW. Azanechiller features high quality, industrial components to offer unrivalled performance, reliability and low maintenance.

    Each unit includes two screw compressors, low noise drive motors, a low charge, low pressure receiver and semi-welded PHE evaporator. Star’s Telstar computerised control system ensures optimum performance, with HMI touch screen interface and broadband connection available for offsite remote monitoring.

    When it comes to designing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, Star is a natural innovator. Star works with strategic partners across the globe to deliver low carbon, cost saving solutions.


  • Shetland Catch


    Clibberswick, Burrafirth and Caldback sound as if they could be somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales, home of James Herriott, Nora Batty and Emmerdale. If you thought so, think again, for they are over 500 miles further north, and halfway to Norway. They are on the tiny island of Ulva, and for their inhabitants the town of Lerwick in the Shetlands represents the fleshpots of the south. For the rest of us Lerwick is so far north it needs to be dragged into a special box in the corner of the weather forecast. While it may be remote, it is certainly not a backwater, as recent developments at Shetland Catch Ltd in Gremista, just outside Lerwick, can testify.

    The deep inshore waters, which made Orkney and Shetland home to the Scapa Flow fleet and more recently to the oilmen of Sullum Voe, allow trawlers like MV Serene and MV Adenia II (pictured) to berth right alongside the new Shetland Catch factory on the quayside.

    The recent factory expansion, involving a £9.5m investment in buildings and plant, has increased blast freezing capacity from 200 tonnes per day up to over 750 tonnes per day, and the total daily throughput, including plate-frozen filleted and whole fish, is in excess of 1000 tonnes. "This is probably the largest pelagic factory anywhere in the world," said Derek Leask, Shetland Catch’s Managing Director, at the opening ceremony.

    For the opening ceremony, on the 18th of August, the sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky, giving no indication of the additional difficulties, which had been posed by the weather through the project. Even in the summer months, flight delays of several hours owing to sea mist were common, and on a few occasions engineers flew all the way from Aberdeen, only to be turned back on final approach as the fog rolled in.

    Shetland Catch is a joint venture between the Lerwick Port Authority, the Shetland Fish Producers Organisation, Jaytee Seafoods and Whalsay Fish, and it provides processing facilities to the pelagic fleet based around Shetland. Unlike cod and haddock, pelagic fish (herring and mackerel) are still plentiful in these waters, but until now much of the catch had to be landed and processed in Norway. Most of the factory’s output goes overseas, with up to 50% destined for Nigeria and much of the rest shared between Russia and Japan.

    The strategic importance of the new facility is that it is now large enough to accommodate two trawlers at once. As they often fish in pairs, and otherwise would have to seek separate ports to offload their catch, twin processing in Lerwick can save up to four days sailing time from a twelve day voyage. This is highly valuable to the ship owners and crews, but also to the processors and their clients.

    Like many other food processes, the fishing industry is highly seasonal. Shetland Catch work the herring season, which runs from 1st July to mid-September, and the mackerel season, from 1st October until mid March. Plant reliability is imperative, for if the system does not work in season the fish will not wait and huge amounts of product will be lost. Access for site work is also, by definition, seasonal; strictly confined to the short periods between fishing.

    Working with Shetland Catch and Dr Mike Hewitt of Cuillin Refrigeration Services, Star Refrigeration developed a project plan which enabled the fourfold increase in capacity to be achieved without loss of processing time, but also enabled the existing plant to be upgraded to current technical standards and integrated into the new system.

    The green light for the project was given on 21st December 2000, and the New Year started with a frantic design and fabrication process, ready for the site start on 1st April. The amount of new construction and pipe installation work required for the project made it impossible to complete everything for the herring deadline, so the agreed plan was to retain the existing 200 tonnes/day plant from 1st July. On 1st August the new plant was introduced, giving 520 tonnes/day, and the existing system was shut down for transfer onto the new central plant. This transfer, including all piping, wiring and control modifications was completed in fourteen days, just in time for the project’s opening ceremony, which was attended by guests from all round the world.

    To achieve detailed design and construction in such a short timescale, Shetland Catch short circuited the usual tender bid process, cutting an estimated two to three months from the total programme. Star provided detailed costs for all elements on an open book basis as the design was developed, and this close correlation of detailed design and budget planning enabled several cost savings to be identified and implemented, even after the design was well underway. Once the design was finalised the price was agreed and the contract then proceeded along traditional "fixed price" lines. "This gave the whole process the kick start that it needed," said Star’s Sales Director, David Blackhurst. "With the knowledge gained from other recent projects we also evaluated a cascade system based on carbon dioxide. A brief feasibility study conducted over the Christmas/New Year holiday showed that while the costs looked attractive, we were less certain about achieving the tight timescales. We therefore were able to start back after the break fully committed to the traditional two-stage ammonia plant design."

    There are ten blast freezer chambers, each roughly 100m2 in plan and 6m high, and the evaporators are fed from a common surge drum located outside, at the end of the freezer hall. The existing plant used three Grasso packages, each with a booster and high stage screw compressor on a common baseplate. This configuration is becoming quite common but to meet the increased duty a further seven packages of the same size would have been required. It was quickly decided that this was not economic, and so Grasso were asked to look at larger packages instead. The new skids, the largest of this type ever built by Grasso, use thecolossal Gamma compressor with a suction swept volume of 4,900m3/h.

    Four of these monsters, together with the three existing packages, provide a total installed capacity of 5,400kW at –40°C suction pressure. Each screw compressor is controlled by a Simatic PLC, and these are linked to the latest generation of Star’s TELSTAR control system. This provides full colour graphics and data logging for the entire system, and links by modem for remote monitoring.

    It was easy to incorporate the existing compressors into the new SCADA system once a few minor modifications were made to the older PLCs. As the new system uses Echelon processors on a LONworks network it is also ideal for future expansion, just in case four million herring per day turns out to be insufficient for world demand.

    Star Refrigeration is the UK’s largest independent industrial refrigeration engineering company. Star focuses on the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial refrigeration systems.

    Star offers a turnkey package to all users of refrigeration plant. Established in Glasgow in 1970, the company provides fast response 24-hour technical support from a network of nine branches to customers throughout the UK.

    Star's technical advisory arm, Star Technical Solutions (STS), operates as an independent consultancy providing advice on refrigeration engineering issues. Star also owns food freezing and chilling equipment specialist Starfrost, as well as mechanical and electrical contractors Penec.