A before look at the freezer doors at the Nash Finch grocery distribution and retail facility in Michigan.
Snow was the daily weather forecast last summer for Randy Perry, building mechanic at a Michigan refrigerated warehouse for grocery distributor/retailer Nash Finch of Minneapolis.

Perry found himself walking in a winter wonderland just inside the two door openings of the 61,000-square-foot freezer in Nash Finch's 600,000-square-foot Bridgeport warehouse. "It was just like Christmas every day in there," Perry said.

Snow was produced from summer humidity loads on the 40 degree F, 83-dock position facility. The moisture migrated into the -15 degree freezer due to problems with two rigid slab, biparting doors with an air curtain, and plastic strip barriers that were originally installed when the 25-year-old facility was built. The facility supplies a full line of grocery products to independent grocers throughout Michigan.

The original doors had inadequate sealing that resulted in snow and ice accumulations as far as 100 feet into the freezer. Perry and his assistant found themselves dedicating several hours per week dislodging and removing enough ice to fill up to seven dumpsters.

Although the ice didn't affect storage capacity, the drain on manpower, production delays, and potential hazards due to slippery floor surfaces justified the investment in new doors, according to Perry.

Time To Change

After reviewing the industry's newest technology, Perry contacted Applied Handling, a Dearborn, Mich.-based industrial equipment distributor/installation/service company specializing in dock equipment, industrial doors, safety devices, and modular offices. Applied Handling suggested the Barrier® Glider cold storage door by Rite-Hite Doors of Milwaukee. Perry said he initially liked those doors (Thermal Air™ sealing system), consisting of inflated 6-inch-diameter, conforming-fabric ducts, designed to seal the perimeter of the biparting doors and create a pressurized energy-saving seal. Plus, Perry saw no risk in the in-vestment since the manufacturer offered a full satisfaction guarantee.

Perry said he is pleased with the retrofit. After 180,000 trouble-free door openings, Perry said ice removal has dwindled to a manageable 10 minutes every two weeks.

The changeout is also allowing improvements in the freezer's refrigeration system. Perry said lower energy costs could mean tens of thousands of dollars of savings. Perry estimated he has already reduced energy-intensive coil defrosting by 50 percent because of fewer coil freeze-ups due to less moisture migration into the freezer. Other energy savings will result from the fact that the rotary screw compressors won't have to work as hard to maintain temperatures, he said.

The two new doors also have withstood a number of impacts without sustaining any broken parts or bending that would affect seals.

For more information, contact www.ritehite.com.

Publication date: 11/21/2005