Mhlnews 322 Westpakavocado

Getting Bugs to Buzz Off

Aug. 1, 2008
Because insects find avocados so tasty, bug protection at the dock door is critical for an avocado packing plant.

When a company does one thing, it has to do it well. In the case of avocado packer West Pak Avocado, keeping the facility clean and the food product safe is paramount.

As Robert Salaski, field manager for West Pak says, the goal of the operation is “safety, safety, safety.”

West Pak is a grower and shipper of California avocados, a produce that is growing in favor among health-conscious consumers who recognize it as a source of monounsaturated fats. The company’s 29,000-square foot, state-of-the art packing facility in Temecula, Calif., was built in 1992 to service an expanding customer base throughout the U.S. and Canada.

To enhance employee comfort and productivity, the facility uses outside ventilation from the dock doorway. Luckily, it can take advantage of the warm, sunny climate of southern California.

Through this door, thousands of pounds of avocados pour into the plant every day to be weighed, packed, palletized and shipped. For this heavy activity level, some kind of rapid-access door was necessary on the dock.

The need to accommodate fast traffic flow, combined with ventilation through the dock door, however, provided a window of opportunity for insects waiting outside to invade the building. To insects, avocados are delectable.

West Pak Avocado uses a Bug Blocking door to seal the exterior doorway of its plant.
The Goff’s Bug Blocking door operates at high speeds, allowing lift trucks to pass through while minimizing insect invasions.

By installing a Bug Blocking powered rolling screen from Goff’s Enterprises Inc. (Pewaukee, Wis.,, West Pak was able to take advantage of the outside weather, protect product quality and guard against hungry insects.

The Bug Blocking screen is powered by a ½-hp motor that enables it to move at opening and closing speeds of 36 inches per second. That means the 8-foot-wide by 10-foot-high door is open for only five seconds. Lift trucks literally shoo the bugs away as they pass through the doorway.

The rolling screen features a breakaway design that prevents damage to the door in the event it gets hit by a passing lift truck. The screen breaks away and then resets itself back into the track.

Although there are other fabric roll-up doors available that provide quick access, West Pak chose the Bug Blocker because it makes the doorway both a vent and window. The screen has a 65% shade factor to keep the facility cool. The mesh screen dramatically reduces radiant heat from the sun while allowing air circulation.

The screen is made of 17-by-11 polyester scrim that has openings too small for insects but big enough for fresh air and sunshine. As a result, the screen door blocks all entry points for insects. It also has a double baffle, under the valance panel that adds an extra layer of pest protection and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) seals on both sides to ensure a tight seal at vertical edges.

The 18-ounce, vinyl door is rot, tear and mildew resistant, so it can stand up to harsh weather conditions. In addition, the door’s Draw-Tite design allows it to stay in its guide tracks, even when the wind reaches speeds of 70 miles per hour. Plus, all seams are double-locked stitched for strength.

Salaski says the door allows fast traffic, prevents bugs from entering the food-handling areas and enhances overall security. In fact, a recent food safety audit resulted in a score of 98% for West Pak.

“As a food handling company,” Salaski says, “food safety is at the top of our priorities, and the Goff’s Bug Blocking rolling screen makes perfect sense.”

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