“The cold store project was quite a challenge, but Express Data designed and implemented a solution capable of withstanding the extreme conditions. Express Data engineers were on-site for around a month to complete the installation during which time no disturbance was caused to the day-to-day running of the production line. They also adhered fully to the strict health & safety policies in place around the site. Express Data have since completed similar jobs at other McCain sites with equally professional results.”
The positioning was carefully planned so that the range of each access point overlapped with two others meaning that if one unit went down, no connectivity was lost and, again, network uptime was maximised.
Each unit was installed into a heated IP65 box to offer protective insulation and to prevent moisture damage.
The project was successfully completed without any unexpected problems and well within the deadline.
Express Data has since carried out similar work at McCain sites in Wombourne and Scarborough, along with the continued maintenance of all their UK sites.
Although the fibre would not be affected in terms of performance, the usually flexible cable would become hard and brittle shortly after exposure to the cold. Express Data engineers utilised pre-heated containers around the cable until it was fully-installed, to avoid putting the fibre at risk.
Something as simple as utilising a mobile platform to reach the ceiling became more complicated when it was found that a “cherry-picker” could be used in such conditions for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Express found a way around this by hiring two platforms for the duration of the project, and using them on a rotating basis to ensure that work was not interrupted significantly.
The 11 access points were the next issue to contend with. These were fixed to points around the warehouse which would allow them to be easily maintained or replaced, and they were all hot-swappable to limit the loss of network uptime.
McCain Foods’ cold-store is fully active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is critical to the company’s production. So when they had a requirement to install a number of wireless access points at roof level into the minus 27 degree C warehouse measuring over 100 metres in length and width, Express Data were called in to help.
Since 1993, Express Data has provided invaluable network back-up for McCain Foods sites throughout the UK, including a 24/7 maintenance contract which requires an engineer on-site within 4 hours.
Express Data had to plan the project around a fully-operational warehouse. This meant negotiating fully-automated machinery, McCain employees going about their daily tasks, fork-lift trucks etc. so Health and Safety issues had to be considered in all aspects of the work. And with the access points being installed at roof level, a suitable platform had to be used which would operate at minus 27°C
.As well as the obvious difficulties posed by the extreme conditions, there were also a number of other challenges to overcome.
.Express Data, following discussions with McCain representatives, became the sole project manager for the installation, offering recommendations for all aspects of the work to ensure that everything ran smoothly.
Once the plans were set, Express were given a deadline of 1 month to complete the work.
The first task was to decide on a cabling system which would operate successfully at such a low temperature. No heated ducting was available to run the cable through, and Brand-Rex copper cabling has a minimum operating temperature of minus 20°, so a fibre-optic solution became the most viable option. But even that did not come without difficulties.