You might have spotted the giant white cube rising into the sky as you’ve driven along Steel Road in Corby.
The Corby Freezer – a mega-warehouse for the sorting and storage of frozen food from factories across Europe – is under construction on a 23-acre plot in Curver Way.
Owners New Cold are building the 40m high steel-framed structure on former Tata Steel land. When it’s finished, it will operate around a cool minus 26 degrees with airlocks maintaining consistent temperatures.
Pallets containing frozen food will be offloaded and moved into the high storage area quickly without a drop in temperature.
The Dutch firm will also be offering a case picking and mixing service to allow retailers to eventually moving their products on to shops or other outlets.
The Northants Telegraph was given a look around the site, which is less than three months away from completion.
Workers will be given thermal layers and well as PPE normally used in arctic conditions. They will be able to take ten minute breaks every hour – going outside to ‘defrost’ if they like.
Operations Manager Rob Cafano said: “After a while it becomes completely normal. You see them go outside and take off their big jackets and they’re sweating underneath.”
Shifts will be 12 hours, with four days on and four days off. The building, which also has a huge office suite, board rooms and staff rest facilities, will operate round the clock.
Lorries can unload straight into a cold pod and an automated process moves pallets on rollers up into the high building which has the appearance of a massive climbing frame. It can hold 72,000 full pallets at capacity. A traditional racked warehouse would need to be five times as big to hold the same number of pallets.
Oxygen is kept low in the main storage building to lessen the risk of fire, and the density of the stored pallets means it takes the minimum amount of energy to keep them cold.
Because of airlock technology, if the electric ever fails, it will take up to 48 hours for the food to start to defrost.
Site manager Dave Mayne said: “They’re putting together the structure in sections and each section is bolted together by hand. They have to be highly trained to work at these heights."
The freezer will allow companies to produce food year-round, bringing it out of storage and into shops for periods of high demand.
"If you’re an ice-cream maker,” said Dave, “then you’d want to be producing the ice-cream throughout the year but you can then store it here and bring it out in the summer.”
This is New Cold’s second UK site – the first is in Wakefield – and the Corby site is large enough for a huge extension should it ever be needed.
The firm is looking for staff to work from September. About 50 on-site workers are needed as well as 30 HGV drivers. You can email [email protected] or visit the firm’s website for further details on the roles available.