C1S Engineers a Comfortable Work Environment for Plant

Frito-Lay North America, the $12 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, hired C1S to provide design engineering for renovations to the company’s plant in Charlotte, N.C. The $9.5 million project was to improve comfort and efficiency while reducing worker complaints at the 300,000 square foot facility. C1S evaluated conditions at the plant to determine solutions to problems that included high temperatures as well as poor air quality. C1S discovered an inadequate evaporative cooling system and undersized exhaust fans, many of which were out of service.

The C1S engineers determined that the lack of mechanical cooling was a major contributor to the problems at the plant. The engineering team evaluated cooling options based on a 10 year model looking at installation and operating costs as well as efficiency. They concluded that a direct expansion cooling system would provide the best payback for Frito-Lay.

The greatest challenge of the project was to keep the plant, which processes 90,000 tons of potatoes per hour, operational as much as possible. The construction schedule included only 10 total days of downtime throughout the year-long renovation. During every shutdown, a C1S engineer was onsite to coordinate with the contractor and trouble shoot as systems and equipment were installed.

Enhancements to the plant included adding mechanical cooling, installing direct digital controls (DDC), and upgrading the electrical system. Now, the temperature inside the plant remains a steady 80 degrees, the air is clear, and comfort complaints have been eliminated. The equipment operates so efficiently that even with the addition of mechanical cooling energy costs have not significantly increased at the plant.

C1S Group provides mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering, design, and consulting services to the commercial, institutional, manufacturing and industrial markets. A professional MEP engineering team has design experience on hundreds of projects both locally and across the country.

Project Fast Facts: Frito Lay Plant, Charlotte N.C.

  • $9.5 million renovation project
  • 300,000 square foot plant
  • Design & engineering for direct expansion cooling system
  • 48 rooftop units provide 900 tons of cooling using 100 percent outside air
  • One mile of new duct work installed
  • 22 tons of structural steel supports added to brace the equipment
  • New DDC system
  • New switch gear
  • New motor controls
  • New control room
  • Upgrade to the electrical back bone