If experience is indeed the best teacher, then Steve Williams may be considered a professor of public refrigerated warehousing. This 32-year industry veteran has filled nearly every cold storage warehouse position throughout his career and today he’s the president of Eskimo Cold Storage in Gainesville, Ga.
Williams says this Atlanta-area operation handles large volumes of poultry, pork, seafood and other products for export and domestic distribution. A 100,000-square-foot building, Eskimo Cold Storage offers -40ºF blast freezing services in addition to its -5ºF to -10ºF storage freezer (with adjustable, single-deep pallet racking) and refrigerated shipping and receiving docks.
Facility details aside, Williams notes that this two-year-old operation is known for its high activity levels - whether that involves receiving and blast freezing product or preparing that product for distribution. In the process, Eskimo Cold Storage forklift drivers average as many as 50 doorway pass-throughs per hour.
When it came to equipping his facility, Williams says he selected three air doors from HCR Inc., a Lewistown, Mon., division of Jamison Door Co. HCR says it pioneered the technology, which utilizes a (1) horizontally directed air stream that (2) travels in a curvilinear path and (3) is recirculated. The end result: a clear doorway that keeps cold air on one side and ambient air on the other.
“The only improvements in traditional door technology during the last 20 years have been to make them faster and more ‘hittable,’” notes Dwight Clark, Jamison’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Hard doors only work when closed but what do you do when you have significant open door time?”
HCR says its air doors provide an attractive return on investment - and many more benefits - for bustling operations with forklifts making 25 or more doorway pass-throughs per hour.
Says Williams, “At first, I was very skeptical [about air doors]. I thought, ‘There’s no way that can work.’ But now that I’ve had them, I wouldn’t buy anything else. . . . Even when it’s below 40º F inside and 100º F outside with high humidity, there’s no ice anywhere.”
Most importantly, Williams says air doors instantly enhance his operation’s productivity and employee safety.
“I started in this business in the mid-70s and I’ve had every kind of door - including bi-fold, rapid-roll and others - and doors have been a common problem in every facility,” he says. “Ice is a huge problem in a freezer, whether you’re talking about forklifts sliding on the floor, or ice and frost building up on the ceiling and on racks.
“It’s a constant issue and we’d have at least one man at every facility who spent the entire day sweeping and cleaning around doors. . . . I’ve even had people injured while doing door maintenance.”
Williams continues, “It’s a door - but it’s a not a door. The opening that’s always there. And no matter how fast any other manufacturer says its door will open and shut, your drivers still have to wait and that hinders productivity.
“Meanwhile, our forklift drivers have a clear view, whether they’re going in or out. I’ve had no accidents or even near-accidents and that also has increased my productivity. . . . These doors are basically maintenance free. They do everything they’re advertised to do and they make me look smart for recommending them. I would never build a facility without them.”
- HCR Inc.
(800) 326-7700 / www.hcr-inc.com