A deeper look at cold room construction
ASKIN’s National Construction Manager, Chris Wormald answers some questions about working with the construction of cold room facilities, its challenges and shares how ASKIN differentiates itself from others in the insulated panel industry.
What are businesses looking for in a cold storage facility?
Cold storage facilities are a necessity for the majority of businesses in the food chain to keep their products fresh.
These facilities are required to maintain temperature without fluctuation or temperature loss during the day to day operations. Businesses want a user-friendly construction in the way of clear access to products stored, while increasing the structure’s capacity to allow for maximum pallet or racking space.
Insurance is a major factor for businesses when designing and building their facility and this is where the different panel cores come into play.
FM as a global insurer have very specific requirements and system approvals, and products such as XFLAM which have FM approval, can help reduce risk and reduce premiums. Each project will be assessed differently and dependent on the risk engineer and insurer, so best to check with them during the design.
Longevity is another feature businesses want in a cold storage facility. Both products stored and the building that stores it. Once the facility is up and running, the business wants as little maintenance as possible to avoid upsetting day to day operations. Having issues that need repair, impact access or possible storage space, can majorly impact a facility, so it’s important to get the build right first time round.
What are the three biggest challenges of cold room facility construction and why?
Each project can have its own challenges. But for the most part, I’d have to say access, safety and timeframes are the three major challenges in construction.
In the commercial or hospitality sector, accessing the smaller rooms can be an issue. These rooms are usually tucked away in the back of a shopping centre or restaurant precinct. This is when it’s important to understand the operations of the area you’re working in, know your access restrictions and communicate with surrounding businesses before starting construction. Just turning up with a truckload of panel and expecting access will always cause angst not to mention cost you money.
Safety for the ASKIN business is paramount. The nature of our business means working at heights and lifting large insulated panels into position. With our collective years of industry experience, we use the safest and most practical means of material handling techniques and are always looking for innovative ways to improve. Our install teams are trained in height safety and are continually being up-skilled in material handling.
Timeframes can be challenging during construction, especially for larger facilities. No matter the delays or severe weather issues, the handover date never moves. This can be because of their production or supply commitments for the food processing guys, tenancy agreements or distribution contracts for the holding facilities. The key is to always plan to supplement some additional manpower to the back end of your build. Insulated panel is the biggest component of a large build, so it’s easy to be the target or used as an excuse by other trades for causing their delays. The trick is to be vocal in your subcontractor meetings and keep the head contractor up to date of your short and long term program.
What’s the most important aspect of a building a cold room facility with insulated panel?
The quality of the insulated panel is an important aspect. Our industry has seen an influx of cheap insulated panel product claiming to have the same properties, NCC certification and Global insurance approvals as the Australian made products. It’s important to do your research and engage a reputable IPCA (Insulated Panel Council of Australasia) Code compliant member.
What about the build itself?
Using reputable installers is essential. They must have skills and knowledge for the correct application of external sealants, ensure the insulated panel structure maintains its vapour seal, and understand thermal tracking and cold transfer.
Most importantly here, is the understanding of the specific building codes, testing standards and approvals to ensure each building is constructed in compliance with the relevant standards and as they have been tested.
What kind of things have you done to differentiate your business from others that focus in the same market?
We can offer an engineered solution. ASKIN has an in-house engineering and design department. We guide our clients through choosing the right panel for the right application and help them with their general design and structural parameters.
Additionally, the wealth of our experience within our project and manufacturing teams differentiates our business from others. We have a big team across Australia and NZ supported by our in-house engineering and design, construction management, project managers, site supervisors and experienced installers.
I encourage anyone looking to expand or thinking of building a new facility to talk to us.
National Construction Manager
As the National Construction Manager, Chris brings 25years experience across Commercial, Industrial and Domestic construction. He is a carpenter by trade and holds builders’ registration in multiple states. His results-driven project management style and passion for innovation are what supports the ASKIN Design and Engineering team to push the boundary on product development and advancement. Chris’s understanding of ASKIN products and capabilities also lends to our estimating team to ensure at tender stage customers are getting what they need upfront without the hidden extras down the line.