Mortuary coldroom installations are an unfashionable sector of the industry that rarely make the headlines but it is a growth sector that provides the challenge of combining custom-built installations with reliable and efficient cooling equipment.
Not surprisingly the work can be too sensitive a subject for some but specialists like Milby Coldrooms of East Goscote, Leicestershire, have been providing a bespoke coldroom installation service since 1981. The company’s design team works closely with the client to deliver the best possible solution for each project, however sensitive it may be. They offer a one-stop shop for mortuary work and this includes body racks, body trays and purpose-built control panels. The company has an impressive track record in this field, installing mortuary facilities for funeral directors, local authorities and the NHS. They also build mortuaries tailor-made for television and film sets.
Managing director of Milby Coldrooms Nigel Rodgers said: “While we tackle every installation with the same level of professionalism, with mortuaries you are acutely aware of their importance. Quite simply, the equipment has to work and we always specify trusted components to help ensure this. In addition, on many sites you must also be sensitive to the building’s purpose.”
This was the challenge for Milby Coldrooms at a job for A Wass Funeral Directors of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, a company that has been operating for more than 100 years. The business was moving to new premises and needed a new mortuary.
Mr Rodgers said: “Unlike a hospital mortuary, at a funeral directors everything is much more accessible and the public needs to be met by surroundings that are sympathetic to the memories of what will often be the last time they will see their loved ones.”
Having the right setting is of utmost importance but so too is having equipment that makes it possible for small businesses such as A Wass Funeral Directors to carry out their work efficiently and to prosper. For the new mortuary Milby Coldrooms chose a J & E Hall Fusion medium range JEH2-0150-M-1 commercial condensing unit system.
As standard, Fusion units operate on R404A but medium range models fitted with scroll compressors can also operate on R134a. Although capable of temperatures as low as minus -30°C, in a funeral director’s temperatures of between +2°C and +4°C are normal and as a consequence the efficiency of the unit is extremely high.
Mr Rodgers explained: “In this installation we fitted a three-door, stainless steel lined coldroom capable of receiving up to 12 deceased. The room was built to fit the premises and requirements of the custom. The three differently sized doors give access to separate compartments – accommodating average sized subjects, those of greater physical size and finally an area that can bear the proportions and weight of occupied caskets.
“Externally it is not immediately obvious that the structure is a mortuary coldroom. Given the nature of the establishment, we chose to use tongue and groove panels that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly insulative.
“The Fusion unit we selected had to be oversized to a small degree but we were also conscious of the need for economy. In normal use the Fusion is more than capable of maintaining the correct temperature within the coldroom but you must also factor in the arrival of new ‘guests’.
“From a thermal perspective, new arrivals introduce a relatively large amount of heat that must be cooled quickly. Installing a slightly oversized cooling system allows for this and enables the unit to operate mainly at partial load, helping to ensure indefinite, trouble-free operation.
“For this installation we also had to think about the funeral director’s residential neighbours who would not appreciate the droning noise that comes from some makes of cooling equipment. The unit we used is only about half a cubic metre in size and emits less than 40dBa so, as far as nearby properties are concerned, it will be virtually silent.”