Western Cape Business News

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FOOD: What Makes Orion Attractive


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE brand new 3 000 ton Orion Cold Storage project at Muizenberg’s Capricorn Business Park required an investment of close R43 million and it is money well spent, according to Orion’s managing director, Patrick Gaertner.

For one, there is a keen and ongoing demand for cold storage facilities across the food sector but, more importantly, although the initial start-up costs were high, these ought to be recouped fairly quickly through savings – especially so energy.

The project came into full operation last month with Orion Cold Store taking up more than half of the pallet space, with three other potential anchor tenants negotiating seriously for the balance, according to Gaertner.

By the time of going to press OCS’ application to have it certified as a Bonded Warehouse was also well advanced, with customs bond approval expected anytime soon. This all adds up as an attractive proposition.

Gaertner is particularly proud of the cost-effectiveness of the cold store.

This flows primarily from the combination of the installed mobile racking system  and the installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) to each of its screw compressors – including the back-up compressor – which reduce electricity consumption by 30% to 45%. “The electricity crisis was very high on our planning agenda”, says Gaertner.

When the company purchased the existing Parmalat facility in Capricorn Park in 2009, the intention was to convert the existing facility into a Cold Store. However after careful consideration the decision was made to completely renovate the building and offices, keeping the existing facility as a dry-goods store and warehouse for other business operations within the group, and to purchase the adjoining two properties for the purposes of erecting a new cold storage facility.

The cold store will be running at minus 20°C to minus 25°C. In order to install underfloor heating (to prevent the ground from icing up beneath the surface and cracking) as well as tracks for a mobile racking system, we would have been forced to lift the existing floor.

Furthermore the existing facility had height and layout restrictions which would have limited the space available for storage. It was therefore decided to build a completely new store adjoining the existing warehouse, thereby increasing access into the cold store by the existing 15 loading bays.

The decision to go with a fully mobile racking system was a simple one. Although the initial cost is significant, the system requires only one aisle in each section of the cold store – almost doubling the storage capacity, and reducing the cooling costs per pallet. The company decided on the UK Storax System installed by Barpro in South Africa.

I have visited cold stores all over the world, and have been planning this store for the past 20 years. I have yet to find a mobile solution that can come close”, admits Gaertner.

Orion Building is also the corporate head-office to other companies within the group, including Gaertner Exporters, Pateca (Pty) Ltd and Superwatt (Pty) Ltd. Pateca, an importer of steel and building materials sourced the steel used in the manufacture of the cold store panels, ensuring that the material used would stand up to the harsh Cape coastal climatic conditions.

Drawing on the expertise of Superwatt, a leading supplier of back-up power solutions, the new cold store has installed Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) to each of its screw compressors.

With some 30 years experience in meat, poultry and fish import and distribution Orion Cold Storage supplies leading retailers, caterers, wholesalers and manufacturers throughout Southern Africa.

The company intends to use approximately 50% of the store for its own requirements, and will make storage space available to existing clients.

With cold storage space at a premium, the interest has been overwhelming.”

After more than 20 years in the business we know just how important it is to be able to offer clients prompt access to their stock, short turn-around periods, and an efficient and professional service”, adds Rory Klemp, a director of


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