The Lifeline to Cold Milk

Published on Wed, 03/21/2018 - 11:12am

 The Lifeline to Cold Milk

 By Steve Weisman

 In today’s dairy, foods, and beverage industries, maintaining the correct temperature is extremely important to process integrity and to insure product quality and safety for the consumer. There is a world of difference between hot and lukewarm, cool and cold, and when specific temperatures are critical to a process, it better be right! Oftentimes, the best solution is a glycol chiller.

What exactly is a glycol chiller?
A glycol chiller is basically a compact close-coupled factory manufactured refrigeration system that eliminates the need for field-installed refrigerant lines and components, by circulating food-grade non-toxic propylene glycol to remove unwanted heat from a process, product, or fluid (like raw milk).

Why a glycol chiller at the dairy?
A smaller producer whose tank-based refrigeration system is no longer reliable, can (without buying or waiting for a new tank) install a glycol chiller and a plate cooler to reliably cool his milk as it is transferred from the milking parlor to his insulated tank. For the growing producer who upgrades to a higher-volume milking parlor, a properly designed packaged glycol chiller can cool the milk very rapidly to help keep milk temperatures (and bacteria growth) under control. For larger producers or those moving to direct tanker load out, the glycol chiller is the best way to handle high volumes rapidly.  Glycol chillers are also proving to be less expensive to install, more reliable, and easier to maintain than conventional remote-field-connected refrigeration systems.  

What’s important when selecting a chiller?
Tony Freeman, owner of Sunny Slope Dairy shared his insight: “In these days of rising product quality standards and reduced demand / pay prices, the ‘smart money’ goes directly to overall value when selecting any equipment. With chillers, this means choosing a manufacturer who offers simple, smart designs and uses the highest quality parts that are recognized and understood by my local service guy and readily available through local aftermarket suppliers. A manufacturer’s customer support and availability for advice is also critical to our success; that’s what we get from G&D.”
Adding further, Steve Dennis of Rock Creek Refrigeration from Twin Falls, ID, shares his thoughts on his long-term business relationship with G&D. “I first reached out to G&D years ago when my client, Double A Dairy needed to replace an older chiller. I was met with knowledgeable service as we worked through the chilling equipment selection. That new chiller showed up onsite and exceeded our expectations on performance and design. In fact, since that time we have bought and commissioned two more of their units for other process cooling applications at that same facility! G&D Chillers is a company I trust. They back their equipment and customers 100 percent.”
Kit Kesey, co-owner and VP Operations for Springfield Creamery shared his experience with G&D when they needed a quick turnaround. “Our company recently had an immediate need for additional chiller capacity. We contacted G&D Chillers, explained our urgency and were able to acquire a chiller that fit our specific needs quickly. The G&D sales and service teams were very knowledgeable and responsive throughout the entire process. We would not hesitate to work with G&D Chillers again for needs in the future.”
Craig Nelson, Facilities Manager with Rogue Creamery talked about ease of maintenance. “Our G&D chiller has worked well and helped us regulate our cave systems with consistent temps even during 110+ degree days. It has been low maintenance and easy to work on when needed.”

Built on quality customer satisfaction
Quality and customer satisfaction are the primary driving forces for G&D Chillers ( located in Eugene, Oregon. In fact, during their 25 years in business, G&D has become the trusted “go to” for many of the leading wineries, breweries, distilleries, medical, and industrial manufacturers across North America. And a growing number of dairy/foods processors and satisfied dairymen with milking herds ranging from 200-15,000 cows are also choosing G&D Chillers.
According to owner and president Justin Thomas, “We are as committed to cold as we are to our clients. The most important word at G&D Chillers is “committed”. No matter what your cooling needs are, whether you require a permanent installation, a portable chiller, or if you’re expanding and need one of our modular designs, we engineer and manufacture the finest quality liquid chilling systems right here in Eugene. We also partner with our customers for life - and we enjoy serving every customer from start to finish. We’ve been unmatched in customer service for over 25 years!”
Andy Backer, VP of sales, actually got his start welding chiller frames back in the 1990s and joined G&D Chillers in 2009. “Although G&D has been building chillers for dairies since the beginning, in the past five or six years, we have really begun to expand into this area. We work with dairy producers ranging in size from small producers that require just a small chiller to a huge dairy producer that might need up to three chillers in different sections of the operation. What we pride ourselves on is being able to work with each individual producer to help them design exactly what they need in a chiller system.”

Where to start
It all begins with a telephone call to G&D (1.800.555.0973) or an inquiry link from the G&D website to by the dairyman or his contractor. Thomas notes, “We spend a lot of time with customers, looking at their specific needs. We might do this over a series of telephone conversations or maybe face-to-face or through the computer. Sometimes, if it is feasible, we will have them come to our facility here in Eugene. If it is a really complex plan, we will visit the site to make sure we understand the situation.”
Thomas continues, “We also understand that not every dairy application requires a package chiller that falls within our standard line. That’s why G&D has been thinking outside of the box for over 25 years, designing and building hundreds of custom chillers. Whether it’s a simple relocation of the utility connections of a complex build up or ground level design and engineering, we are eager to meet the challenge. We strive to help make simple changes to help save customers thousands in installation costs with the highest efficiency. We have the ability to make changes rapidly and get the product out of the door in a timely manner.”
When it comes to sales, Backer believes that developing a solid relationship with the customer is at the top of the list. “I am here to help the customer. That is what I want to do, and when we go into a project, we look at it to find the solution that will work best for them. Every client has a different application. I will look at the blueprint or layout and offer my recommendations.”
To this Thomas adds, “Everything doesn’t have to be totally new construction. We have dairymen that want to add capacity to their existing system. If it makes sense, we can do that and save the producer money. Ultimately, we want to provide the best chiller system possible at a reasonable cost.”
Installing the system
All G&D chillers are designed and manufactured at the Eugene Oregon plant. Depending on the time of year lead-time can vary, but a typical lead-time is 4-6 weeks. Thomas says, “Everything is built right here, so the producer and/or contractor is working on parts that are common across the country. Many times, we will work with local contractors and will do our best to train and help the contractors. Over the years, we have developed a solid base of local contractors that are really good at what they do.” As Thomas says, “The chillers are as smart or as simple as you want them to be. It can be a simple push of the switch.”
With over two decades in the business, Thomas says there are always customers who come up to him and tell him that even after 10-15-20 years, their chillers are still working. Maintenance is relatively minimal. Just follow these tips: measure the glycol mixture quarterly throughout the year and keep the condenser clear of obstructions and free of leaves and debris. Thomas recommends, “G&D partners with multiple service companies throughout the country, so if a customer needs a contractor, we can provide names of contractors. Yearly inspections after the first or second year are a good idea.”
G&D Chillers has 25 years of experience in the refrigeration business. G&D manufactured its first unit in 1993, which was timed perfectly with the growth of the wine and craft beer industries. Although that remains a huge part of their business, G&D designs and manufactures self-contained refrigeration and heating units that cool or warm large amounts of liquid to the exact temperature required in industries ranging from aviation to pharmaceuticals to the dairy industry across the United States and into foreign countries.

Justin Thomas, owner and president, started with G&D in 1993 as an apprentice engineer shortly after the company was founded. Over the years, he learned the refrigeration trade from the original owner Dan Smith, who had over 40 years of experience in the refrigeration industry. Thomas worked on the manufacturing side and then moved to sales and distribution working with customers across the country. In 2005, he purchased G&D Chillers.
The future
Thomas is proud of the company’s growth since 1993 and looks with excitement toward the future. “This past decade, we’ve experienced extraordinary growth and change here at G&D Chillers, thanks largely to our continued commitment to teamwork, and to our policy of placing the needs of our customers above all else. We’ve successfully tripled in size, increased research and development, achieved significant technological advancements and strengthened our position as the premier manufacturer and developer of Glycol chillers. We’re continuing to find new ways to advance our products in this evolving industry to ensure that G&D remains at the top of our game.”

Reflecting on the G&D experience, Thomas adds, “We are committed to our customers. What makes us unique is our ability to move on the fly and make the changes and help tailor our products for our customers’ specific applications. We work through the entire process with the customer to build the unit that they want and that is competitively priced, and then we stand behind it after the sale and walk them through the install and maintenance for years to come. We believe that the best advertising is word of mouth. If we can make our customers happy and keep them happy, there is no better advertising than that. That is how we have grown and spread across the country.”