UK food logistics industry body FSDF yesterday published a guide to the safe management of ammonia refrigeration systems that could help boost uptake of ammonia systems in Britain.
The Food Storage Distribution Federation (FSDF) represents the food and drinks logistics sector in the UK. It counts supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Tesco among its key members, along with big storage and transport companies such as Seafast, XPO Logistics and Cold Move. Since its founding in 1911, it has focused on representing the food logistics industry and making it as profitable and efficient as possible.
The FDSF has long supported the use of ammonia in food logistics applications. In the spring issue of Accelerate Europe its chief executive, Chris Sturman, described ammonia as “the only stable ingredient” in a very transient and changing sector. He estimates that 70-80% of static temperature-controlled facilities in the UK are ammonia-based.
In light of the sector’s dependence on ammonia and the withdrawal of a previous guide explaining the safe management of ammonia refrigeration systems (Health and Safety Executive publication PM81), the FSDF decided to publish a new guide yesterday in conjunction with other industry players such as the British Engineering Services and the Institute of Refrigeration, along with other stakeholders and with support from the Health and Safety Executive.
These guidelines go further than strict legislation that is already in place governing the use and handling of ammonia.
The comprehensive report addresses each hazard of using ammonia and informs readers of how to manage these risks in a plant. Central to its recommendations are increased training in proper maintenance and risk assessment of ammonia systems, for both designers and operators.
Important factors in the safety of ammonia plants include the suitability of plant location and whether the system installed is fit for its intended purpose. The guide also stresses the importance of understanding safe operating limits and making sure that operators are in contact with manufacturers to ensure that they are operating it within the required pressure limits.
The guide’s appendices include recommended schedules for maintenance and examination of the systems themselves as well as pressure valves, pipes, compressors and other components. The FSDF stresses that parts must be replaced regularly to ensure proper working order and safety.
It also stresses the importance of being prepared in case of an emergency. It suggests flying a windsock above the machinery room to change the direction of the wind in the event of a leakage.
A copy of the full FSDF report can be found here.