North Country Smokehouse: Leading the meat industry in sustainable operations
North Country Smokehouse celebrated the grand opening of its new facility in October of last year. Significantly larger than the original smokehouse, the new building offers roughly five times the production capacity of the previous plant, presenting new opportunities to grow the business.
Building the new smokehouse in Claremont, N.H., was a top priority, the community being home to the company's century-long evolution.
"North Country Smokehouse has always been a family-owned business and our founders have ties to Claremont that span generations. It was important that our community benefit from the added workforce required by the expansion. We now employ over 100 full-time residents, an increase of more than 200 percent," said Aaron Corbett, North Country Smokehouse's Chief Operating Officer.
Consistency is key
Nestled in the valley of New Hampshire, with sweeping views of Vermont's Mt. Ascutney, the new facility is the largest private investment in the city's history. "It was important to maintain as much consistency as possible throughout the transition to the new facility, to ensure the products' flavor and textures weren't compromised in any way," continued Corbett.
For more than two years, North Country partnered with CMC Design Build, Demand Management Institute and Eversource Energy to develop an Engineering Services Study. The purpose was to create a design that met the needs of food safety and compliance standards while ensuring the establishment was as eco-friendly and energy efficient as possible.
More than half of the new, 62,000 square-foot facility called for central refrigeration. Processing, packaging and storage areas require constant cold, controlled temperatures. To reach efficiency goals, North Country Smokehouse opted for a shell-in shell design with the production and staging areas of the facility enclosed to prevent direct exposure to the outside environment. This layer of tempered space added an extra level of insulation, helping to stabilize temperatures and increase efficiencies.
Food safety standards set an industry wide example
"The entire plant was constructed to maximize food safety and minimize cross contamination," said Nate Larose, Director of Project Development for CMC Design Builds. "The USDA allows raw and further processed meats to flow through the same room, but North Country Smokehouse opted for much more rigorous standards, building the entire plant to support the flow of product through the manufacturing process. This eliminated food safety risks and enhanced compliance with additional self-imposed standards from arrival to output."
The new smokehouse rates among the top meat manufacturing facilities in the country from both an energy efficiency and food safety standpoint. "This is a project CMC Design Build is especially proud to be a part of. The new facility is an example of what other meat manufacturing operations should strive toward in the future," continued Larose.
Beyond the build – real time efficiencies
The facilities sustainable initiatives go beyond heating and cooling equipment features. The smokehouse was constructed with LED prescriptive lighting, high-performance insulated doors, sub-floor heating and advanced filtration systems, all designed to aid in the facilities annual KwH savings. The new facility is currently estimated to save the company more than 1.2 million KwH per year.
Critical equipment and refrigeration updates are sent to the staff in real-time. This ensures repairs are made quickly and lessens energy loss associated with machine malfunctions. Heating and cooling equipment auto-adjusts to support on and off-peak production hours, and the LED lighting is motion censored, automatically turning off the lights in idle areas. In addition to the daily efficiencies performed by the building itself, the staff maintains a rigorous preventative maintenance schedule, and participates in plant-wide recycling programs to ensure all the corrugated cardboard is recycled. Today, more than a year after the opening of the new facility, North Country Smokehouse remains committed to lessening their carbon footprint wherever possible.
To learn more about North Country Smokehouse, please visit www.ncsmokehouse.com.
Source: North Country Smokehouse