We have had the recent opportunity to make visits to Russia and see firsthand what the refrigeration industry provides for perishable storage distribution. In addition to refrigerated facilities, refrigeration compressor manufacturing plants were visited. Having been a professional curiosity of Hank’s (Henry Bonar, II), the trip was indeed a rewarding experience, and one that has provided deep appreciation of advances in a country without free enterprise incentives. In this brief article we will try to give you one descriptive “snapshot” of a major refrigerated facility.
One town we visited had a population of 700,000 people. Ten years earlier, it had a population of 30,000. The “Man-Made” town’s focus was a large truck factory (largest in the world). The town has a refrigerated storage facility which also serves the needs of an ice cream manufacturing facility (ice cream cones).
The facility, approximately 2 million cubic feet, had some unusual amenities, such as a barber shop, a dentist, an obstetrician, and a small shop for employees. The loading docks were open, with multi-story refrigerated areas four stories in height, including a basement story level similar to facilities in older metropolitan areas such as those built in Jersey City, Philadelphia, and Chicago from 1910 to the 1940’s.
The refrigeration equipment, particularly compressors, was very similar to those manufactured in the United States. Many of the exotic features, such as thermosyphons, were not present, but efficiency would be on a par with the United States. The absence of fan-driven air units was noteworthy, although condensers were similar (except for the use of fin coils). Generally, perishable products consisted of bulk storage of raw materials. Very little “packaging” material was available, and poultry was frozen in open crates similar to our plants in the 1950s. Usually one year’s supply is kept on hand. Based on observation, even in metropolitan areas, 70-80 percent of the food consumption would be “fresh” or freshly processed, or canned.
(To be continued next issue.)