Food Safety Magazine

Signature Series | June 25, 2013

Food Safety Success in Japan Is Built on Quality

By Dialight

Food Safety Success in Japan Is Built on Quality

Japan is famous for its love of fresh food. Keeping hundreds of food outlets supplied with the freshest possible ingredients is a daily challenge for Asahi Foods, one of the most successful food distributors in the Kanto region. The company supplies a huge variety of high-quality fresh, chilled and frozen foods, as well as packaged goods and catering equipment, from its modern warehouse on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Challenges
Asahi Foods’ mercury vapor lighting had been causing particular problems in the harsh environment of its chilled and frozen food storage areas, where temperatures can be as low as -20 °C. As well as being comparatively inefficient, the heating effects of the mercury lamps meant more work for the chiller units, increasing power consumption still further. Lamps needed to be replaced on average 8–10 times a year, costing a minimum of ¥20,000 each time and creating considerable disruption in the process. The poor quality of light made conditions in the cold store even more difficult for workers, leading to fatigue and mistakes. Dim, uneven lighting meant some areas could not be properly utilised, leading to disorganization and inefficiency.

Trials of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting had begun in 2010 as a way to save cost, but the domestic-made products chosen had proven ineffectual and unable to cope with the extreme temperatures—failing within just a few months. However, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, the need for reliability was illustrated very clearly. Dialight’s battery-powered LED emergency lighting performed faultlessly; enabling workers to evacuate the dark, window-less cold storage area safely. Such a demonstration is not easily forgotten.

The company realised that its need for LED lighting capable of delivering high-performance, energy efficiency and long-term reliability in extreme cold environments could only be satisfied by a manufacturer with specific experience in industrial environments. Asahi Foods invited Dialight Japan to propose a full LED solution for its chilled storage areas.

Solutions
Compared to the domestically-produced LED fixtures it had tried earlier, Asahi Foods immediately saw the advantages of Dialight products, which have been designed specifically for industrial applications. Their unique light pattern ensured effective lighting with minimal light spill. The low profile of Dialight’s DuroSite High Bays greatly reduced the chances of accidental damage from forklifts used to access high-level racking. Perhaps most importantly, the LED’s broad spectrum light output made it much easier for workers to read labels, pick products and identify colors without straining.

Asahi Foods replaced 35 of its 235 W mercury vapor lamps one-for-one with a mixture of DuroSite High Bays and Area Lights. The pre-sales support the company had received from Dialight Japan enabled it to obtain a government grant to offset the cost of installation. At an energy rate of 12.44 ¥/kWh, the dramatic reduction in power consumption meant its investment was completely recovered in just 2 years and 2 months.

Outcomes
Replacing mercury vapor lamps with Dialight’s DuroSite fixtures has reduced Asahi Food’s lighting costs dramatically. With less heat being produced by lighting in the cold storage areas, the chiller units are able to work more efficiently, creating further savings.

Aside from the cost savings, Asahi Foods has also realised significant spin-off benefits. Thanks to the full spectrum LED lighting, food produce in the cold storage and picking areas looks far more attractive to visiting customers, enabling them to accurately gauge freshness and helping to increase sales. Workers report feeling more energised and less tired at the end of their shifts. Better light distribution has allowed better use of the storage areas, improved organisation, less mistakes and more efficient operation.

There are many LED products on the Japanese market, but not all LED manufacturers have the benefit of Dialight’s international experience of designing products for use in harsh industrial conditions. As Asahi Foods discovered, quality is the single most important factor in achieving a successful changeover to LED lighting. With technology refined and proven in hundreds of applications worldwide, meeting or exceeding every international standard, Dialight delivers the highest possible quality.