Every year, more growers are changing to use of plastic “MacroBins”, and abandoning wooden field crates, for a number of reasons. Life-cycle costs, sanitation, and durability are among them.
Another benefit of the change-over - perhaps the best of all - is the ability to precool much faster in the new MacroBins than ever possible with the wooden design. “For best-in-class precooling,” explained Jim Still, president of Global Cooling Inc., manufacturer of the Jet Precooler, “you need the 'Three P's'. A great Precooler, of course, is first. And then you also need the proper Packaging, which is a close second, and finally you need to control the Process.”
“The reason the precooler comes first,” he explained, “is that even with 'non-cooperative' packaging, we can at least precool thoroughly, even if it goes slowly. During the box or carton redesign process, many packers find that they quickly can agree on a better box design, but before they can begin with it, they first have to use up three or four boxcar loads of the old corrugated.” This can take a year or so, according to Still, and if you waited until the boxes were perfect to start precooling faster and better, “well you're tripping over dollars to pick up pennies,” Still pointed out, “our Jet precoolers cost only about $500 a month on a lease plan, while new boxes are up in the 5- and 6-figure range.”
MacroBins are a product of MacroPlastics, and there is an Agriculture bin family, which has been designed with forced-air cooling in mind. “5% air hole surface area in the box or bin sides perpendicular to air flow is ideal,” explained Still, “and these airways have to extend all the way across the product, from air-entering-side to air-leaving-side.” Oftentimes, he continued, with corrugated boxes, they are stacked 2- or 3-wide across a pallet, and the air holes from box to box don't always line up. “So even if the box itself has, say 8% ventilation face area, the net effective airflow percent is much lower than this, because the holes are blocked by adjacent packaging.”
“MarcoBins” can be near-perfect for forced-air precooling,” claims Still, “because the air pathways extend all the way across the product and bin.” There are areas of the MacroBins, according to Still, where air can bypass the product. “Short circuit is another way to describe this. Air is lazy, and seeks the path of least resistance, so it will flow into openings and gaps if they are present, leaving less air left to cool the fruit or vegetable.”
“This is part of the third 'P'”, Still said, “your process has to include being sure these air bypasses are sealed off, or blocked. With MacroBins, these areas are at the bottoms, if it is a 4-way design, and then in between bins front to back - as with any other pallet or pallet equivalent - and in the headspace of the bins, when product is not filled up to the very top.”
Strips of corrugated or pvc are usually used to seal off these gaps. “It is important to apply the seals after the tarp is down and the fans are turned on,” Still cautioned, “so that the fan suction holds all the seals in place.”
Recently, according to Still, a Washington state grower has been using a Jet Precooler along with MacroBins and “fully cooling apricots to 32-degrees in 1 hour,” said Still, “versus their old precoolers cooling to just 47-degrees in 5 hours. The product quality gain, and shelf life extension, is nothing short of amazing,” he said.
“Our Jet Precoolers are made in America,” explained Vice President James J. Still, “right here in Philadelphia at the Philly Navy Yard business park. All of our components are the best that money can buy, and our portables are amazingly powerful, we consistently outperform bunker wall systems and farm-built box fans time after time.”
Global's Jet Precoolers also are becoming ever more valuable in areas where there are droughts and water shortages, which make water cooling unsustainable. “The Jets cool so fast, because of their high airflow,” commented James J. Still, “they can almost be considered as semi-vacuum coolers.”
Jet Precooler customers have successfully used the units to cool every commodity attempted so far, with the lone exception being crates of corn. The list of can-do's includes berries, apples, cherries, mangoes, avocados, flowers, jackfruit, papaya, bananas, herbs, lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, root stocks, jalapenos, and hops. All of these can be cooled in MacroBins too.
For more information
Global Cooling Inc.
Jim Still, Founder/President/CVO