With the growing demand for frozen foods and ready-toeat foods and with the growing buying power of working professionals and younger generation, the food and beverage (F&B) industry is set for higher growth trajectory. This growth is not limited to metro or tier 1 cities; but the same is seen to percolate in tier 2 cities and further. The demand for export of Indian fruits, frozen foods, spices, pulses and other food items is also increasing.

Today, the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC & R) industry has become an integral part of human life. The refrigeration and cold chain industry which forms the backbone of F&B industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19 per cent during the period of 2017-22. A well-established cold chain from farm to retail for local consumption or ports for export along with appropriate processing of food produce at farm level and right kind of packaging will boost the quality of our food products. This will eventually result in higher market demand and continued growth of the industry.

Like occupants need comfort conditions in the work spaces, treated air for the required level of cleanliness is absolutely essential for the operations in F&B industry today. In the F&B industry, the quality of air has a direct impact on quality of produced food.

“Efficient air filtration systems, controlled ozone treatment, UV light treatment, air to air energy recovery systems for outside air supply, devices to control CO2 and ethylene are the main features for air quality control,” observes Arvind Surange, CMD of ACR Project Consultants Pvt Ltd.

While all the industry sectors have been making rapid strides in technology, HVAC & R is no exception. Gone are the days for refrigerants causing ozone depletion. Even the refrigerants introduced later like HFCs have come on the phase down list due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The newer systems would now have either natural refrigerants such as Ammonia, CO2 and Hydro Carbons having zero ODP and GWP, or those synthetic ones which have very low GWP. Energy efficiency, compactness, automation, PLC are now the key factors in system designing.

Commenting on how the technology will transform the F&B industry, Mr Surange said, “Information technology (IT) will play a major role in the coming years in transforming the way the industry works. IoT (Internet of Things) has already started coming in into logistics which helps in maintaining quality of cold chain during transport. Use of WMS software is increasing, especially in bigger cold storages, for inventory management and monitoring, online billing and efficient storage and retrieval of products to and from cold storages. There are other innovative solutions in IT like online marketplaces linked directly to cold storages, energy monitory systems, etc which will create a disruption in the way this industry operates.”

Arvind Surange, Fellow ASHRAE, is one of the senior-most consultants having completed 54 years of his association with AC&R and cold chain industry. His organisation ACR Project Consultants Pvt Ltd has to its credit more than 700 projects in AC and refrigeration and cold chain including prestigious projects such as Savla Foods & Cold Storage (Navi Mumbai), Alkabeer Exports (Hyderabad and Mumbai), R. K. Foodland (Navi Mumbai), CONCOR – CA Project (Haryana), large number of packhouse projects for MSAMB, Maharashtra and KAPPEC- Karnataka, to name a few.

Bry-Air, an adsorption technology group, likes to usher the latest technological advancements in the dehumidifers segment and extend the best in air treatment solution offerings to its customers and the industries it serves.

Bry-Air is one of the flagship companies of the Pahwa Group. The Group has filed 108 international patent applications in 13 new technologies (since 2007), of which 34 patents have been granted or allowed already.

“We are an integral part of the HVAC&R industry and food is one of our key focus segments for the dehumidifiers and related businesses,” informs Dinesh Gupta, Executive Director, Bry-Air (Asia) Pvt Ltd.

Paradigm shifts are seen in good frequency across industries including F&B and the first movers play a significant role in convincing the other peers in their industry to follow.

Mr Gupta adds, “Bry-Air has been instrumental in replacing traditional methods being used in the food processing segment like sun drying, oven heaters for controlling humidity and have introduced new day dehumidifiers with remote access and smarter algorithms ensuring high energy savings at an affordable cost.”

Customers can review the total benefit like lesser production time, lesser resource requirement, faster ROI and lowest cost of ownership, swear by Bry-Air dehumidifiers once they start to experience and i.e. how Bry-Air plays an instrumental role in transforming the industry by effective usage of technological advancements.

Latest HVAC&R technologies for F&B industry

Frozen foods and ready-to-eat foods are getting popular and the industry is responding to the growing demand. Rapid growth can be seen in the cold chain sector covering multi-product cold stores, frozen food plants, pack houses, reefer transport, ripening units, distribution centres, retail, etc. Cheese production, aseptic packaging and beverages sectors have a promising future. According to Mr Surange, “Use of CO2 as primary and secondary refrigerant has a good future in the industrial and retail sector. Distribution, logistics and retail sectors are on a growth path. Mechanised material handling with palletised storage is now a common practice in F&B industry.”

The latest offering from Bry-Air is the Bry-Air BrySmart Series (BBS) Dehumidifiers. The BBS dehumidifiers is high on energy savings and integrate 4.0 tomorrow based concepts and technologies which are very relevant for the food manufacturers or exporters for their varied moisture and humidity control needs.

“The BBS dehumidifiers which are embedded with patented technology, work on advanced algorithms and is enabled with remote access controls provide the food manufacturers with faster ROI and lowest cost of ownership to cater to their moisture control requirements across processing, drying, packaging and storage,” informs Mr Gupta.

Bry-Air has a wide range of solutions for the food industry be it for moisture control during spray drying to powder conveying, candy/ wafer packaging to meat processing and storage, product drying, seed storage to cold stores, health food to the more popular instant food and many more.

Bry-Air has partnered the global food Efficient industry for over 5 decades. It has developed deep understanding of the various humidity problems faced by the food manufacturers or exporters and provided customised and innovative solutions at the best price.

Bry-Air Dehumidifiers are designed to comply with the most complex and critical requirements of high humidity and moisture removal or regain during manufacturing. It helps prevent mould or fungal growth, condensation prevention, loss of key product characteristics, malfunctioning and inconsistency thereby preventing production losses or rejections and reduced shelf life.

Bry-Air is one of the world-leaders in dehumidification solutions. Headquartered at Gurgaon, Bry-Air (Asia), a flagship company of the Pahwa Group, has fully-owned subsidiaries in Malaysia, China, Switzerland, Brazil and Nigeria; and an associate plant in USA. A world-class engineering company with strong manufacturing and R&D capabilities across the globe, Bry-Air contributes to the success of its customers by catering to the dynamic and fast changing moisture and humidity control needs in nearly all industries. With 25,000 plus installations in over 85 countries, and an existence of over 50 years in the air treatment business, Bry-Air is helping contribute in improving the overall air quality across the world. The company’s portfolio includes solutions for humidity control, moisture removal, product drying, adsorption cooling, dry rooms, gas phase filtration and plastics auxiliaries systems.

At the Food Logistics India Exhibition 2018 to be held at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai during 27 – 29 September, Bry-Air to showcase FFB Compact Series of Dehumidifiers. FFB range is 170 CMH to 3,000 CMH (100 CFM to 1,766 CFM). The company will also be displaying its Group company products – Compressed Air Dryers from Delair and Arctic Cooler from DRI.

Mega food parks & beyond

The Government of India has approved setting up of a total 42 Mega Food Parks in the country to create modern infrastructure for food processing. The Scheme aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximising value addition, minimising wastage, increasing farmers income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.

However, Mr Surange observes that the individual cold chain projects coming up in various centres have proved better off in the business and profitability. Food parks have units which have both refrigerated and non-refrigerated food. In fact, in many places, refrigerated units form only a marginal part of the project. It is also seen that the commercial operation of these is yet to prove them viable financially. Therefore, before going in for further creation, Mr Surange opines, “It will be advisable to study the performance of existing parks which are operational.”

By Subhajit Roy, Group Editor