Maintaining cold air helps produce more frozen pizza
Founded in 1954, Palermo’s Pizza has grown from a small bakery to two plants with a combined 200,000 sq. ft. of processing space. To keep up with a growing appetite for its product, Palermo’s needs to get ingredients and finished product in and out of its 35,000-sq.-ft. freezer quickly during its 20 hours of daily production time.
To maintain product quality, Palermo’s can only allow the product to be on the production line for a limited time before it must go into the freezer. The doors play a big role in keeping the cold air from escaping. Steve Daniels, Palermo’s plant engineer, says one of his biggest challenges is the cost of refrigeration.
“Our freezer is maintained at -15°F. Any time you open the door, you get some infiltration of heat. Needless to say, with open doors, I lose refrigerated cold air to my production space,” explains Daniels. “That does two things. My production people are miserable working with -15°F air blowing on them. And, of course, I’m working harder to keep the space cold when I shouldn’t have to.”
With the old doors that were hard to open and close, Daniels estimates Palermo’s lost at least seven to eight tons of refrigeration a year. However, since the company installed two Rytec Turbo-Seal doors, it now uses less energy in the freezer room.
“With the Rytec doors’ rapid-roll design, it’s up, down very quickly—no more than 10 seconds open time. That’s plenty of time for our operators to get in and out, so we don’t lose nearly as much refrigeration,” says Daniels.
The 10- x 18-ft. Rytec doors accommodate the high-mast forklifts that work the upper shelves. Their speed contributes to containing cold air in the freezer by opening at more than 101 in. per second, providing a fully accessible doorway in two seconds.
When the doors are closed, the insulated one-in. thermal closed cell insulated panel provides an additional measure of protection against heat transmission. Also, the soft bottom bar on the doors conforms to the contours of the plant floor and teams up with the other door components to provide a full perimeter doorway seal. Quad seals in the side columns provide double seals on the front and back of each panel. Double brush seals, combined with the idler barrel, seal at the top of the door. This tight seal not only keeps the cold air in the freezer, it also prevents the formation of ice on the floor.
“We like the solid seal when the door comes down. Plus, the Rytec doors have built-in heaters to keep frost from building up on the side of the door and freezing in place,” explains Daniels.
In the event a forklift hits the door panel, the breakaway tabs allow the bottom bar to separate from the side columns undamaged. Then, it can be easily and quickly reset without tools, reducing unplanned downtime.
“Our guys are going back and forth through that freezer constantly all day long, taking raw materials to the line. If we can’t keep that flow going, we’re shut down,” says Daniels.
The LED safety light system along the door columns warns employees when the door is closing. Two through-beam photo eyes, a dual pneumatic reversing edge and threshold warning lights protect and alert workers by reversing the descending door panel if an employee is in the doorway.
“It’s also safer for pedestrians walking by. They can see if the door is going to open or close,” notes Daniels.
The Rytec doors’ controller enables door operation adjustments at the floor level and offers self-diagnostics to minimize maintenance surprises. The AC drive offers soft starts and stops, while providing smooth motion for longer component life. The Rytec Wi-Fi system further reduces maintenance by eliminating the coil cords usually attached to the bottom bar and communicates with the controller to continually track door operation.
“From what I’ve seen so far,” says Daniels, “I’m already planning to replace the other doors next year.”