Thermal Protection Perfection

Seymour Manufacturing International (SMI) is using its decades of ‘thermal protection perfection’ expertise to help food processing companies navigate the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis.

Its mission statement is: “To save energy and money for customers, by constantly pushing the boundaries of thermal protection innovation – and providing a friendly, flexible and top-quality service.”

SMI was established in the 1980s – but founder Brian Seymour’s origins in the industry can be traced back to the 1950s when he helped to develop the first PVC packaging films in the UK.

SMI is the company behind Tempro – a lightweight, flexible and outstanding thermal material designed to service the ‘just in time’ delivery concept and allow multi-temperature delivery.

Initially, the industry treated Tempro with suspicion. How could such a lightweight material possibly achieve such results – energy savings of 33% in freezers, and at least 25% in chillers?

However, when the results of independently audited thermal tests came in from world-renowned Campden BRI, Building Research Establishment, and Intertek, demand soared.

Today, SMI’s headquarters at Stafford Park in Telford, Shropshire, serves the UK, with agents and distributors across the world.

Cheap counterfeit copies of SMI products are on the market, but fail to achieve the same outstanding thermal properties.

SMI has never – and will never – cut corners. The company is founded on quality and service, and seeks to register, trademark and patent as many products as possible to protect the industry.

It’s all part of ensuring that the customer gets the best possible value for money . . . from the inventors of the original, and still the best.

SMI director Jill Seymour says: “The need to maximise efficiencies and save money or energy where possible – as well as capitalising on any new opportunities that arise – is right at the top of the agenda right now.

“In those first few weeks of lockdown, when many families were panic buying or stockpiling, even the biggest food retailers found they did not have sufficient frozen or chilled storage space.”

Thankfully, flexibility is the temperature-controlled insulation sector’s middle name.

Since the pandemic took hold, SMI has seen a significant rise in demand for thermal insulation barriers and portable cold rooms – products such as Cold-Korner and Chilled-Kube, as well as Temperature Control Zone (TCZ) curtains for large areas.

They make it possible for any combination of ambient, chilled products to be stored in any building or vehicle, and to be regularly reshaped or reconfigured.

From airports to ships, beer cellars to portable catering units, these systems have gone into overdrive to help keep all manner of products at their optimum temperature.

Jill Seymour adds: “With more families choosing to receive their weekly supermarket shop by home delivery, the interest in thermally insulated roll cage covers, box liners and thermal bags has also increased.

“When we invented and supplied one of the first flexible cold rooms to Waitrose many years ago, one of the partners suggested the name Temperature Controlled Zone (TCZ), and it has stuck with us ever since.

“The real benefit at a time like this is that a TCZ is so easy to use, quick to fold away, simple to fit and amazingly effective as a flexible cold room. As we like to say . . . it allows you to ‘hang up a cold room’!

“Our unique thermal insulation material Tempro can cut energy loss by at least 25% in chillers, and as much as 33% in freezers.

“We have one customer in the south of England who pulls out a TCZ to divide part of his bakery into a chilled area to insert cream and chocolate after the product is baked, cannot speak highly enough of the ease and saving they are making.

“Another took their TCZ with them when they moved premises and was able to buy more curtains with added track to extend into their new building.

“Where companies are ripping up long-held business plans, we believe that this kind of flexibility is going to become even more crucial in the coming months.”

The global cold chain monitoring market was valued at around £4 billion last year and is predicted to top £7 billion by 2025. The world is a small place these days, and many products are travelling huge distances to reach their end users, covering vastly differing climatic conditions.

The ability to maintain cargo at its specified temperature is mission critical but SMI has covered this with its range of Back-Stop and Multi-Stop curtains to protect goods in ambient to chilled and chilled to frozen.

However, providing a suitable temperature-controlled environment, often at short notice, is just part of the battle these days.

The question which SMI’s sales team is being asked more often than any other right now is: “What is the Covid-19 risk?”

Jill says: “That’s no surprise, as the virus has significantly impacted food safety practices across the entire industry.

“Officials are now carrying out far more stringent tests on food in transit, and consumers want guarantees that the food on their plate has been carried in optimum conditions – for the majority of frozen or ambient produce, temperature control is the number one factor.

“No-one can ever give a 100% anti-bacterial guarantee, of course, but we now enrich our strip curtains, door and thermal windows with Bio-Gard, a trademarked compound which has been chemically proven to kill 99% of all known bacteria.”

Over the course of 10 years, it has been tested under many conditions to ensure that it complies to world standards such as JIS Z 2801. 2000, ISO 22196:2011, and EU Directive 20002/72EC.

One of SMI’s newest customers, an ice cream manufacturer, described himself as ‘a sceptical engineer by nature’ and monitored energy consumption on a freezer unit where Cold Stop curtains had been fitted.

He now appreciates that installing these thermally efficient curtains in place of simple plastic strips can have a rapid return on investment, reducing energy use and costs, and has progressed onto trialling Back-Stop curtains on delivery vans.

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