Snow was the daily weather forecast last summer for Randy Perry, building mechanic at a Michigan refrigerated warehouse for Fortune 500 grocery distributor/retailer Nash Finch, Minneapolis.

Perry found himself walking in a winter wonderland just inside the two door-openings of the 61,000 ft2 freezer in the 600,000 ft2 Bridgeport, Mich., warehouse.

The summer humidity loads on the 40oF (4oC), 83-dock-position facility produced the snow. The moisture migrated into the -15oF (-26oC) freezer due to two outdated rigid-slab, bi-parting doors with an air curtain and plastic strip barriers that had been installed when the facility was built 25 years ago. The original doors had inadequate sealing that resulted in snow and ice accumulations as far as 100' into the freezer. Perry and his assistant found themselves dedicating several hours a week dislodging and removing enough ice to fill seven dumpsters.

Although the ice did not affect storage capacity, the drain on manpower, production delays and potential hazards due to slippery floors justified an investment in new doors.

Perry contracted Applied Handling, Dearborn, Mich., which recommended the Barrier Glider cold-storage door by Rite-Hite Doors, Milwaukee.

After 180,000 door openings, Perry says ice removal has dwindled to a manageable 10 min every two weeks. Additionally, the freezer's refrigeration system offers improved efficiency that should lower energy costs. Perry said he already has reduced energy-intensive coil defrosting by 50 percent because less moisture migration into the freezer means fewer coil freezeups. Also, energy-demanding rotary screw compressors do not have to work as hard to maintain temperatures.

Caption (NashFinchPic): Replacing the doors on a 61,000 ft2 freezer at Nash Finch has reduced freezeups and the need for coil defrosting.