REFRIGERATION / GENERAL FOOD PROCESSING
It all started with a local baker who needed a temporary refrigeration solution. Since building a new space was simply not a viable answer, a normal square, practical and functional shipping container provided the best option. Hubert Grevenbrock, refrigeration technology specialist based in the Westphalian city of Velen in Münsterland, got his hands on a container, installed high-quality Kelvion refrigeration technology, insulated the standardized steel cases, wrapped them in stainless steel and lay power and water lines. And presto! The self-contained “cooler” was born. It was then transported to the customer's site on a flatbed truck. Once delivered, it took only minutes to put it into operation. What was originally designed as a temporary solution was enhanced and has now evolved into a unique selling point for Grevenbrock Kältetechnik GmbH & Co. KG.
A standard container has an exterior width of 2.5 meters. In the past, this was the only container dimension that was restrictive. The standard lengths of three, six and twelve meters could be shortened down to the centimeter as needed thanks to modern metal-cutting technology. But now restricted widths are no longer an issue. Because, in the meantime, Grevenbrock can join together up to three container structures, one next to the other, thus extending the width to 7.5 meters and making it XXL in size. Any larger and the flatbed truck wouldn’t be able to transport it. The interior floor plan as well as the refrigeration equipment can be individually configured. Customers may also specify the number and style of doors. “No two containers are identical in design,” says Grevenbrock, who builds a good 50 custom-designed refrigerated containers each year – and has done so for decades.
Ninety percent of his customers are bakeries, which have specific refrigeration requirements. Dough is a sensitive material that can quickly dry out and form a skin if the temperature is not right; this renders the dough useless. The company Grevenbrock Kältetechnik was founded in 1974 by Hubert Grevenbrock's father and ranks among the few companies on the market that design and construct refrigeration plants for bakeries. Hubert Grevenbrock simply transferred his knowledge of how to direct cold air to the container design to ensure that the air flows around the oven racks holding the dough. Here's how it works: The Kelvion DE professional ceiling-mounted air coolers blow the cold air through a suspended chamber to the opposite end of the container. Here air baffle plates direct the primary air flow toward the ground where it discharges. Despite the low temperature difference on the evaporator, continuous and controlled air moisture is produced by the large surface and air output from the DE ceiling-mounted air cooler, which keeps the dough moist. Simply ingenious.
In the meantime, refrigerated containers from Münsterland are now being used in other sectors, such as refrigerating beverages at the numerous football stadiums of major Bundesliga clubs (Dortmund, Stuttgart, Schalke, Kaiserslautern or Bochum) or for refrigerating blood plasma at university hospitals. However, the majority of the company's customers are and will remain expansion-oriented bakeries that deliberately need refrigerated space outside their existing premises. One single standard container can be subdivided into a refrigerated cell, a fermentation interrupter and a deep freeze room, thus completing the “refrigeration chain” as required. Several containers next to one another can be switched on or off separately or used on an as-needed basis, during production peaks, for example. This saves on energy costs, but mainly keeps the investment in refrigeration technology within a manageable range.
“Those who need more refrigeration space can simply add containers, instead of constructing a new building or adding on to an existing one to adjust for growth,” explains Grevenbrock. A major consideration, but not the only benefit. Refrigerated containers can be set up at any time, if, for example, production space has to be expanded, whereas space has to be made for permanent cold storage and then constructed. Also, every container is completely self-sufficient in terms of refrigeration technology. If one container fails, the other continue to function reliably. This creates redundancies that ensure production reliability.
Grevenbrock’s specialists at the company headquarters in Velen-Ramsdorf assemble the individual components and set up the standard container to produce a large cold store. The entire container is constructed in the company's production halls, which involves installing welded floor paneling beveled as a tub in 4 mm thick stainless steel, the V2A steel air baffle plates that direct the cold air toward the ground, the refrigeration equipment and the Kelvion evaporator; also the installation of individually selected sliding doors, double folding doors or standard doors with right or left-hand stop, interior lighting and all of the electrical work.
Refrigerated containers are not only in high demand in Germany, but also elsewhere in Europe, from Cyprus to Norway. There are many diverse areas of application. Grevenbrock containers can also be equipped as a normal cold store, a climate-controlled creamery, storage or blast freezer, semi- or fully automated fermentation interrupter and vacuum blast freezer. For such a comprehensive range of options, not only the finish, but also the quality of the components plays a decisive role.
For Grevenbrock, there is no alternative to using high-quality refrigeration equipment and Kelvion evaporators from the Küba product line. “Reliability is an absolute must, particularly for the evaporators. Kelvion’s SG Class has set the bar high. We install Kelvion evaporators only because there is simply nothing better,” adds Grevenbrock. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to offer a 60 month guarantee with quiet conscience. The containers have a complete service life of 25 to 30 years, estimates Grevenbrock, who presented two containers equipped with Kelvion DEBE 083-D evaporators at the “Südback” trade show in Stuttgart 2017. The containers are operated with the new 449 A refrigerant.
Two years ago, Grevenbrock presented its newest container creation for bakery customers: A drive-in bakery as a mobile unit with bathrooms for staff and customers and even a cafe. This new mobile unit is a result of consistently enhancing container refrigeration cells and equipping them with electrically retractable panorama glass panes made of bullet-proof glass. “We build the drive-in bakery according to the customer's specs and deliver them in turnkey condition to the desired location. These are absolutely self-sufficient units that only need power, water and a sewage system connection. And if it turns out that the desired location, in retrospect, is not suitable, operators can hook up the drive-in bakery to a truck and haul it to a better location,” says Grevenbrock in describing yet another unbeatable benefit.