Belfast catering venue makes huge investment in heavy duty refrigeration

Williams prep coldroom at the Waterfront Belfast

Williams Refrigeration’s equipment is being used in a new catering facility capable of serving up to 1,500 people at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall following an extension to double the size of its conference and exhibition facilities.

Belfast Council estimates that the new venue will contribute £39m per year to the city’s burgeoning business and tourism market. Catering is a huge operation and the new facilities are designed to be as flexible as possible, so that the caterers can serve multiple functions of 200 to 500 people, or larger events for up to 1,500, with the option of buffets, silver service and plated banquets.

Galgorm Group’s Gary McMullan was project manager on the catering facilities installation. He said: “This is a prestige site and, being so big, there were considerable design obstacles to overcome. When it came to catering equipment, we needed suppliers who could deliver quality and experience – on a project this size there’s no point in being penny wise and pound foolish.”

Galgorm recommended Williams to supply the refrigeration at the premier venue: “We have a great working relationship with Williams and we know what you get,” he added. “We’ve dealt with them on large coldroom projects for Hard Rock Café in both Brussels and Glasgow, as well as the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool.”

At Waterfront, Williams supplied all the coldrooms, blast chillers, undercounter and upright refrigeration.  “Everything has a superior build and installation quality,” said McMullen.

Sustainability is a key criteria within the Waterfront project, as is future-proofing equipment specification wherever possible, and many of the counters and cabinets supplied by Williams are hydrocarbon versions.  Alongside its environmental benefits, using hydrocarbon refrigerant reduces energy consumption, due to its excellent thermodynamic properties, and counts towards Waterfront Hall’s BREEAM credits.

The adaptability of the company’s range was also put to full use. For example, the counter cabinets include Williams biscuit top units. These are supplied without a worktop, to fit under existing counters. Williams also supplied several reverse unit counters, which have the refrigeration system mounted to the right rather than the left, as is standard.

The project called for very tight specifications on the bespoke coldroom suites, which include roll-in blast chillers, chilled plating rooms, a beverage room and general chilled and frozen storage. They are spread over three floors and had to be installed into purpose-built insulated recesses.

McMullen explained: “Williams had to coordinate closely with the builder, not only to ensure the size and design of the coldrooms precisely matched the recesses on site, which covered huge areas, but also to take account of the insulated floors built below the rooms by the main contractor. This was the toughest part of the installation but, despite all the issues, everything worked out perfectly.”

The bespoke equipment supplied by Williams at Waterfront Hall included a variety of coldrooms from blast chillers to prep areas to beverage rooms that differed in terms of size, shape, configuration and function.  A total of seven chilled coldrooms (+1/+4°C) and one freezer room (-18/-22°C), plus a prep room at 10°C, as well as another room for beer in the basement, were assembled on-site and installed, some of which required dual compartments, with different temperature zones.

Williams provided roof, wall and floor panels with camlocks securely foamed into tongue and groove joints for a tight-locking, stable structure to eliminate the risk of ice build-up in joints and ensure the ‘thermal envelope’ is 100%, assisting with BREEAM accreditation.  Williams provides thermal imaging, ensuring that operators can confirm the efficiency of their cold room.

Williams also supplied two roll-in blast chillers and nine Garnet HG1T-HDC single door uprights and three HG2T-HDC two-door models in addition to six HBTC2U-HDC biscuit top two-door units, four of which were standard and two reverse units, with the refrigeration systems mounted to the right.

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