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Cargill, Freemans of Newent

Cargill, Freemans of Newent


Factory refrigeration project


Freemans of Newent supplies poultry products to customers from local butchers to nationwide restaurant chains.

The customer's problem

We were invited to look at the poultry air chiller performance. Freemans’ aim was to chill 10,000 1.6kg chickens per hour to a temperature of less than 4°C. The production line was being slowed down in order to achieve the required temperature, resulting in an extension to the working week and an unplanned overtime bill of £100,000 per annum - plus massive extra fuel costs from the oil generators which power the plant.
We recommended a holistic approach: carrying out a full site survey to look at the factory’s cold chain, checking that all parts of the process were capable of meeting targets.
Problems identified included: undersized air-cooled condensers; refrigerated air flow not directed into the chicken carcass; PLC programs controlling the operation were not communicating correctly. Added to this, an existing Excalibur LPA system was affecting the hot gas defrost and the cooling coils were unable to defrost.

Our solution

  • Installing new air-cooled condensers
  • Modifying ductwork in the air chiller chambers to direct air onto the chicken carcass
  • Designing a bespoke control system to control refrigeration plant operation, and provide tension control to the 2,000 metres of conveyor chain. This system enables Freemans staff to monitor plant performance
  • Redeploying and better utilising the Excalibur system
  • Changing the refrigerant from R417a, resulting in only four rather than five compressors being required to run the plant - reducing energy usage by 20%.


A screw-compressor pack was installed to run the site’s whole refrigeration system, replacing ten individual condensing units. The cold chain is now being maintained throughout the factory and Freemans is achieving its target of chilling 10,000 1.6kg chickens per hour.

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