Inside Logistics

Lineage Logistics honoured by U.S. energy department

Blast freezing technology reduces energy consumption and prevents food waste


June 29, 2020
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NOVI, Michigan – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized Better Plants partner Lineage Logistics, LLC, for optimizing the design and process of blast freezing food products with its 2020 Better Project Award. As part of DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative, the Better Plants Program and Challenge (Better Plants) works with manufacturers and water and wastewater treatment agencies to boost their competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency.

The annual Better Project Awards are bestowed upon partners for outstanding accomplishments in implementing projects that minimize the waste of electricity, fuel and/or water. Lineage was honoured for innovations in the design and process of blast freezing, in which it has reduced freeze times by more than 50 percent and improved blast cell energy efficiency by more than 20 percent.

The technology is now a standardized design and practice for improved blast freezing that Lineage is working to implement across its entire facility network, which spans over 300 locations across 12 countries.

Blast freezing, which is a critical process in the food supply chain, involves rapidly freezing pallets of fresh, perishable goods before storage and transportation. The process also helps to reduce food waste during periods of excess supply.

“To be recognized by the DOE’s Better Plants Program for the second consecutive year is a phenomenal achievement for Lineage’s extremely dynamic data science and technology teams. This award highlights our company’s continued commitment to innovation and sustainability, as we live our purpose to transform the food supply chain to eliminate waste and help feed the world,” said Greg Lehmkuhl, president and CEO of Lineage.

“Better Plants partners are implementing innovative energy efficiency solutions in the industrial space that are cutting costs and energy-use and the Better Practice and Better Project awards honor their leadership,” said Valri Lightner, deputy director, Advanced Manufacturing Office, U.S. Department of Energy.

Lineage identified inefficiencies in both the design of the blast freezers and the configuration of individual pallets. A joint effort with a Lineage customer to redesign the case and upgrade to high-flow spacers between case layers helped decrease intra-pallet variability in freezing outcomes.

In 2019, the DOE recognized Lineage for pioneering a new and innovative way to improve energy productivity using a process the company calls “flywheeling,” which proactively manages energy consumption using proprietary machine-learning and scheduling optimization algorithms to reduce both cost and waste.

Lineage and other 2020 Better Project Award winners – including Bridgestone, Ford, PepsiCo and ThyssenKrupp – were formally recognized at the 2020 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit, which was held virtually on June 10, 2020.

As part of the broader Better Buildings Initiative, Better Plants partners voluntarily set a long-term goal, typically to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over a 10-year period across all U.S. operations, while the DOE supports these efforts with technical expertise and national recognition. Lineage joined the program in 2015 and achieved its energy goal in 2017.