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Smart Cold Storage for Organic Food

Smart food parks are the new requirement of New Indian market where new players like Patanjali, Amazon and Big Basket expanding their operations and old players like Food Corporation of India, Future Group updating themselves. Organic food and beverage are great in demand where traditional foods like rice, sugar etc required to be hygienic and cheaper to fight the market price. People are ready to pay 20 per cent extra mount to get organic food which are claimed as pesticide free. Our neighboring country Bhutan is a good producer of organic food. In India, Sikkim is only state which produces all organic foods. While the demand of these food is more considering the large population and its demand but at same time the production space and distance from the farm to the consumer is also more. In this scenario, proper storage of organic food is very important as its production cost is more and any damage to the food will be huge loss to the producers. Smart cold storage system plays very important roles in maintaining quality and cost of these foods.

Technology

  • Cold storage system is used in many countries of the world to store various types of foods. It is suggested here that along with cold chain facilities, it is required to maintain the quality due to high ambient temperature prevalent in the country.
  • Onion, sugar, rice, poha, vegetables, pulses etc should not be stored unless adequately dried either in the field or by artificial means. It is necessary to dry the neck tissue and outer scales until they rustle when handled, otherwise the bulbs will rot in storage.
  • Sprouting of dry foods is controlled by lower temperature. The temperature between 10-25°C increases sprouting. Rooting is influenced by relative humidity (RH). More the relative humidity more is rooting. For effective long storage of these foods in cold storage, the parameters essential to be looked after are the bulb size, choice of cultivars, cultivation practices, time of harvest, field curing, removal of tops, drying, grading, packing, storage conditions (optimum storage range of relative humidity 65 per cent to 70 per cent with the temperature ranging between -4C to -6C).

Most important features of cold storage structures are:

  • Use of RCC roof or other suitable materials with insulation to prevent built up of high temperature inside.
  • Increased centre height and more slope for better air circulation and preventing humid micro climate inside cold storage chambers.
  • Providing bottom and side ventilations for free and faster air circulation and to avoid formation of hot and humid pockets between the onion layers.
  • Avoid direct sunlight or rain water falling on foods to reduce sun scald, fading of color and quality deterioration.

Types of HVAC System

  • Latest technology for ventilation, dehumidification and RH controlling and monitoring equipment from the best manufacturer.
  • Ammonia Liquid Overfeed Refrigeration System for Cold Chambers.
  • Air-conditioned ante rooms on each floor with separate entry through cold store doors on each floor.
  • Efficient ammonia liquid overfeed system is provided which improves the performance of refrigeration system culminating into power saving.
  • The entire cold storage unit along with their testing labs can be connected with a proper integrated building management system (IBMS).

IBMS connectivity of cold storage data for smart users

In any cold storage building, there are number of mechanical equipment such as chillers, AHU, pumps, valve, electrical equipment such as switch gears, generators, panels, transformers, PHE equipment such as pumps, STP, boilers, treatment plants can be seen in any building along with measuring devices such as Btu meters, DB meters and energy meters. When this equipment gets connected with one central point for a common goal, it will be known as Integrated Building Management System. IBMS takes care of each equipment for their operation, time management and saving energy. Different equipment of an organic food cold storage building which can be connected as below:

  • LED fixtures
  • Proper DG Back up
  • Water and power efficient chillers
  • VFD in pumps, AHUs
  • Temperature sensor for conditioned area
  • Water saving fittings
  • STPs with sensors
  • CO and CO2 sensors
  • Oil Indicators
  • Material sampling unit
  • In coming material testing machine data points
  • Material outgoing data points

There are lot many mechanical and electrical equipment not listed above which are found in any building and have optimised by design engineer in terms of power and water saving. But the main object will fulfill only with the help proper and adequate IBMS. Latest technology with proper sensors, DDC controllers, RS 485 ports and with smart storage data will keep the food safe. It will reduce power consumption and will always give history of the storage process also. The user can check and track product quality starting from the date of storage till the time they are taking back their foods which gives them a satisfactory level regarding the storage process. The store manager can get a proper costing of electricity bill, other operation cost, maintenance cost etc to find out the cost to be invoiced for each product along with their profit.

Conclusion

The traditional way of food storage in India is not efficient and ends up in huge damage to the product. In the above article, we just highlighted dry foods and its storage process whereas liquid foods need different process altogether. We often see in news channels how tons of foods get wasted in rain every year in the government warehouses. Proper storage of the food in a proper way will give a better return of investment. The actual return of investment will be nearly four years. Organic food is very good for health and has huge demand and with proper storage it can reach to the end customers with good price.