Southern Champion Tray cooling its plant

Southern Champion Tray cooling its plant

February 5th, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Construction worker Adam Kilgore cuts the excess length of bolts that anchor a vertical support at Southern Champion Tray, where management is installing air conditioning.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

• Name: Southern Champion Tray

• Products: The company produces bakery and foodservice packaging, especially food trays.

• Location: 220 Compress St., Chattanooga

• Status: Southern Champion Tray is working to air-condition more than 120,000 square feet of its Chattanooga plant, a project that involves installing 650 tons of air-conditioning capacity. So far, workers have installed chillers, pumps and cooling towers, and are in the process of installing piping and wiring.

The first phase of the project, which is 70 percent complete, should be finished by the end of April, said Jeff Bruce, engineering manager at Southern Champion Tray. At that time, installers will have completed the addition of 250 tons of chillers, followed by 200 more tons in each of the following two phases.

Phase 2 is planned for completion by the end of the year, with a third phase planned for completion within two years, Bruce said.

• New space: In addition to the air conditioning, workers are creating 7,000 square feet of new engineering space as part of a second-floor mezzanine expansion.

• Price: $500,000 for construction costs

• Features: This will create a working temperature inside the plant of approximately 80 degrees where in the past it has been as hot as the outdoors or even hotter, Bruce said. "We'll probably see a 20-degree drop in average working condition, from 95 to 80 degrees." In addition to increasing worker productivity, the lower temperatures also will help reduce wear and tear on the factory's equipment, he said.

• Workers affected: A maximum of 150 per shift

• Developers/builders: Sexton Construction Corp.