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Low-energy trend also in sandwich panels and company doors

The crates are stacked high in the new ULO cells. The harvest is in and the new storage space was finished in time. Fruit company Beck-Weemaes, from Sint Gillis Waas in Belgium, invested in ten new ULO cells. The cells are mostly meant for Conference pears. The warehouse was also expanded, and a new complex for seasonal employees arose. 

The old storage capacity of 1.6 million was insufficient. The fruit company recently expanded their area. “We have ten hectares of apples and 75 hectares of Conference pears,” says Micheline Weemaes. She has managed the fruit company with her husband for twelve years now, and they take care of their own sales. The majority of the pears are sold outside of Belgium through an exporter.

Continual insulation
The ten new ULO cells are in a closed hallway in the new part of the warehouse. The cold hits you like a wall when sales advisor Bart Hultermans from Roma slides open the large door. A wide hallway becomes visible. Left and right of the hallway, four dark blue doors stand out against the white walls. This is where this year’s pear harvest is waiting for a buyer. Roma built the sandwich panels and sliding doors for the cells. “The doors are our biggest strength,” Bart says. “We have continual insulation, so that the door is100 per cent airtight.”

The concept of the sliding door hasn’t changed in the past 20 years, but it has been perfected. These new doors also look the same. The doors are unlatched using a large handle, after which the heavy door slides to the right or left and the cooling cell is opened. “The concept has proven itself over the years,” Bart says. He mentions a number of changes that have improved the gas door concept. “Modifications to the doors mean we have now achieved a leak density standard of 0.1 with testing. With service we can also guarantee and ensure this quality and density.”

Fire-resistant and food safety
The High Care fire-resistant revolving door for conditioned rooms is new. “In the past, we had to use a fire door that was tested for fire-resistance in a normal architectural brickwork wall. But that hardly ever happens in conditioned rooms,” Bart explains. “We have now developed a door that is fire-resistant for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, and it’s also suitable for company spaces, cold stores and freezers. So with a regular door handle. We want to be frontrunners on the market,” Bart continues.

A third aspect getting more and more attention in recent years, in the fresh produce sector as well, is food safety. “The bar is getting higher and higher, which is a good development,” Bart says. It results is, for example, sandwich panels and frames that are easy to clean. One example is the new frames for panels and doors, for which ‘double glazing’ was invented. The sheet of glass is assembled flush, meaning both sides are flush to the panel wall instead of on top of or set into the wall. Because of that, there’s no ‘window-ledge,’ and because the windows are finished with a single strip, they’re easier to clean.

Sustainability and lower energy use 
Because the economy is recovering, more money is available for investments. “That can be seen in construction, but we have also noticed it,” Bart says. One of the projects is a large DC near Moerdijk, where freezers, cold stores and 45 ripening chambers are being built. Other projects can be found in the Westland and the Central Netherlands. “We’ve seen a shift in the mushroom sector. For years, only cultivation cells were built, but nowadays, investments in processing and storing the mushrooms are also made more often.”

When building the cold stores, the energy use is paid more attention to when choosing sandwich panels. “We supply panels and doors that allow us to build air and gas tight. Because of that, you have the best final product possible from the cooling cells, with energy costs as low as possible,” Bart concludes. “We’ve also seen demand for thicker panels increasing, because these also result in a lower use of energy.”

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