FOOD: Modern Technology In Poultry Production
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE smooth running and production over the past year at the Elgin Poultry Abattoir in the Western Cape is due to a large degree to GEA Grenco’s installation of its state of the art refrigeration technology and the company’s expertise over many years in getting a job done under challenging conditions through its in-house project management division, GEA Project Solutions.
GEA’s South African arm, GEA Grenco Africa and GEA Project Solutions that specialise in projects requiring refrigeration as a core part of the facility, including abattoir layouts, despatch areas, high care areas, holding stores and supplies blast freezers, air line chillers and low temperature freezer stores handled the complete renovation of the abattoir last year.
The plant had a production capacity of 1 100 birds an hour that was increased to 2 500 birds an hour with a further phase development to 4 500 birds an hour.
The rest of the upgrade consisted of a new office block, staff canteens and ablution facilities.
Grenco Africa manager Ilse van der Merwe says that more than doubling the size of the abattoir without disrupting the existing operation, not compromising food safety and obtaining HACCP accreditation during the construction phase, is an achievement the company is proud of.
This issue was a key factor during the upgrade; production could not be slowed or reduced.
The abattoir had to maintain its HACCP-approved hygienic environment during the construction process which included maintaining the products’ cold chain and regulation temperatures whilst installing new refrigeration units and relocating the old units to the newly constructed areas.
GEA Grenco Africa executive director Ken Reed of the Industrial Division points out that another major factor in the upgrade process was the installation of a new airline chiller which is designed to chill 6 300kg of slaughtered whole chicken from +40 degrees C <+6 degrees C.
Before the upgrade, the abattoir’s refrigeration system consisted of a number of stand-alone, Freon (HCFC) condensing units.
This was replaced with a centralised ammonia system that consolidated all of the abattoir’s refrigeration facilities into a common system.
The new ammonia system reduces operating costs (electrical power consumption) as well as considerable ‘lifetime’ costs such as maintenance and service.
The system has GEA Grasso compressors installed which are world renowned for their high efficiencies and low maintenance costs.
Reed says ammonia is a natural refrigerant and has a zero global warming potential and is therefore eco friendly and inline with Elgin Poultry’s corporate strategy.
Product now leaves the abattoir via three HACCP-approved loading dock systems.
Each has loading dock cubicles and an air lock to ensure a well-maintained cold chain.
Elgin Poultry Abattoir MD Jeanne Groenewald says the ammonia refrigeration system is working well and any issues that occurred during the installation were resolved satisfactorily.
“We couldn’t have any downtime during the operation and had to keep all existing systems running. The project management side of the job entailed all the renovations and construction work.”
“This was impressive. If we needed project management again in future, I wouldn’t even bother to get a quote from anyone but GEA Projects,” she says.
Once again, as in the case of many other similar facilities, Grenco Africa designed and installed the refrigeration system while GEA Project Solutions managed the overall project.
The abattoir’s new office block comprises three spaces that consist of an administration section and ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas required by the HACCP and government regulations.
Part of the upgrade was also an overall site improvement that consisted of outside surface work, including a complete new concrete road as well as paved walkways.
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