The 15hp Daikin units were installed at Eskimo’s Crawley factory to provide cooling to the blast chillers that take newly-made cubes down to -15ºC, ensuring that they stay dry and don’t stick together during the automated packing process.
The Daikin units were specified after it became clear the chilling system in use since the factory’s opening in 2011 was insufficient when the factory’s output increased from 50 tons to almost 200 tons of ice per day.
The factory, close to Gatwick Airport, supplies cubes and crushed ice to the London market, and also to customers as far afield as Ireland and Belgium.
Eskimo’s ammonia refrigerant ice machine produces 750kg of cubes every five minutes. The fresh cubes are dropped into storage bins in the rake room, where mechanical rakes level the load and move cubes towards the outlets and to the packing machines.
Explaining the reasons for the plant upgrade, Eskimo owner Gavin Marks said: “We were having increasing problems with cubes sticking together and blocking the conveyors and machines. This was because the cubes are wet when released from the ice machine. If the film of water is not quickly dealt with by blast chilling it tends to refreeze, ‘gluing’ the cubes together. Wet cubes are also unsuitable for crushed ice production.”
“Since installing the Daikin ZEAS units, those problems are behind us. The cubes and crushed ice slide smoothly through the process.”
Billed as Europe’s most modern ice factory, Eskimo’s Crawley plant has capacity to produce up to 1,400 tons a week, with its packing machines running up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s a far cry from the company’s origins in a Battersea railway arch 20 years ago, when up to three tons of ice a day were packed by hand. Eskimo Ice continued to make ice in London until the Crawley factory opened, and still maintains a depot at New Covent Garden, which acts as a base for London local deliveries.
With the issue of wet cubes threatening his existing and potential business, Gavin Marks called in his refrigeration consultants, Royale Refrigeration, also based in the south-east, to find possible solutions.
The Daikin solution proved to be the most attractive. As well as offering a trim modern alternative to the usual big condensing units, the ZEAS units feature scroll compressors which modulate according to demand and offer greater operating efficiencies.”
ZEAS is a packaged system based on Daikin’s VRV technology and using R410A refrigerant. The range includes nine sizes from 5hp to 40hp, and offers a COP of up to 3.0.
ZEAS caters for medium temperature applications of 10°C to -20°C and low temperature applications down to -45°C. It is designed for situations such as supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and food processing plants where loads fluctuate and energy requirements are high.