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Lanier Tech shows off refrigeration program
Oakwood's ammonia program began in 2001
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Michael White, general manager of Morrow Cold Storage in Boardman, Ore., looks at a 10-station, hands-free assembly line Monday during a tour of Lanier Technical College in Oakwood. The tour provided members from the nonprofit World Food Logistics Organization a look at the ammonia refrigeration and robotics training programs offered at the college. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Refrigeration was the focus of a Monday tour at Lanier Technical College that drew more than 100 visitors from companies across the globe.

Participants were part of the annual World Food Logistics Institute in Atlanta, a four-day training program for refrigerated warehousing professionals.

Corey Rosenbusch, vice president of Global Gold Chain Alliance in Virginia, said the tour gives people insight to using ammonia as a coolant. Lanier Tech offers one of the few ammonia refrigeration programs in the U.S.

"About 95 percent of perishable food passes through our members' hands. With today's emphasis on food safety, training like this plays a major role," Rosenbusch said.

The group, which traveled by bus from Atlanta, explored the college's ammonia refrigeration facility and the Innovation for Manufacturing Excellence building.

Instructors highlighted the state-of-the-art labs, which offer training in areas such as factory automation. Several industrial robots were on display.

"It was interesting to see how far automation has come in the last 20 years and the sophistication," said Paul Haugen of SnoTemp Cold Storage in Eugene, Ore.

France Pomerleau traveled to the event from Montreal, Canada, and is the director of a company that operates cold storage warehouses.

"This is great information for me to have. Ammonia is a big part of our operations," she said, adding that the company stores food products.

This was Lanier Tech's third year to help host the four-day program.

The institute is one of the educational opportunities provided jointly by the World Food Logistics Organization and the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses. Other courses offered through the institute, which is a three-year program, include food safety, emergency response and principles of refrigeration.

Lanier Tech president Russell Vandiver said the college's partnership with the institute has helped with campus growth over the years.

The ammonia refrigeration program began in 2001, after the completion of a $2 million, 5,000-square-foot training facility in Oakwood.

The college initially reached out to the local poultry industry, he said.

"We didn't realize there was a bigger demand across the U.S." Vandiver said.

Today Lanier Tech has corporate contracts with companies such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Nestle.

The program has grown from 250 students in the first year to more than 600 attending classes in recent years.

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