The Waterfront Forefront of Food Safety: Boston Sword & Tuna
Four generations ago, Steve Scola’s great, great grandfather Scola worked as fisherman in Italy. Not long after that, this ancestor’s son brought the family trade all the way from Italy to Boston, where the family business eventually became Boston Sword and Tuna. Known today as an industry-leading wholesale seafood supplier with a half-century history, Boston Sword and Tuna imports, processes and distributes everything from Norwegian Salmon and live lobster to Hawaiian swordfish and tuna.
Time for a Bigger Shell
After significant growth in the past decade and with more than 150 employees in its 33,000 square foot facility, Boston Sword and Tuna was due for an upgrade. “It was just too small.” said Steve Scola, Jr. “We were working on top of each other and had totally outgrown it.” In January 2018, Boston Sword and Tuna announced plans to construct a purpose-built flagship headquarters and processing facility on the 6.5-acre Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park waterfront.
Boston Sword and Tuna hired Pilot Development Partners Inc. to manage the project, who in turn brought on Commodore Builders to be in charge of the 50,000 square-foot facility’s construction. That’s when Controlled Environment Systems (CES) was brought on board. With their convenient local operation and specialization in cold storage, CES was the perfect fit. “We have a reputation.” said CES sales engineer Ed Montani. “We’ve been doing this for 33 years, so we’ve pretty much seen all of the challenges and were able to deal with it – especially on a larger scale.”
Keep it Cool
Boston Sword and Tuna’s new facility required substantial refrigerated, clean space, with the main floor needing a chilly 40°F and the coolers an even colder 38°F. “When you get into cold storage freezer buildings and cooler buildings,” explained Montani, “there are all kinds of details and vapor barriers and ways you have to do things to prevent ice from forming inside of a freezer due to vapor leaks or thermal shorts.” Because of this complexity, CES turned to CMC Associates to handle the design and RJD Associates, Inc., their trusted Metl-Span distributor, for expertise in metal panel solutions.
For the exterior, RJD recommended both 6” and 4” thick CF Mesa in Polar White, Regal Gray and Igloo White, as well as 6” thick CF Light Mesa in Igloo White. For the interior walls, 4” thick CF Partition Walls were used. “The panels are so airtight and are insulated so well,” said Scola, “it was a no-brainer to use these types of walls for the outside and the inside of the building.” Using the same – or very similar – panels helped to simplify construction while adding striking aesthetics to the building. “We can put panels on in different colors, different orientations, and yet use the same basic type of panel for the partition panel on the inside,” said Rob De Luca of RJD Associates Inc.
The insulated metal panels chosen for Boston Sword and Tuna provide numerous other features that simplify both the energy efficiency and cleanliness of the new facility. As De Luca pointed out, “They provide a good R-value, you can wash them, they’re light, they go up quick and they are sturdy.”
No Smoke on the Water
Insulated metal panels were also able to contribute the building’s safety. “They are foamed-in-place PUR,” said Montani. “The key is the type of insulation, and they’re a factory mutual approved panel, which is vital.” The UL 4880 fire rating also qualifies Boston Sword and Tuna for an insurance discount.
Quick, easy, and foolproof installation was crucial to the success of the project. “Doing construction in downtown Boston creates some challenges,” said De Luca. “You have to be able to ship the panels in phases because there’s just not room.” Metl-Span was able to meet this need by manufacturing and shipping in supplies in bulk when needed. “We have five different manufacturing facilities and were able to make a lot of product in a short amount of time.”
Another complication was the requirement to use Union labor. “This particular project was a union project,” Montani said. “Since we couldn’t use our own in-house labor force, we subcontracted the installation to Sweeney Brothers Construction, LLC, a union installer with experience in freezers and coolers.”
The 50,000 SF, two-story, FDA-certified seafood processing plant and headquarters was built to be SQF certified. “SQF is really about the flow of the building and separating processing areas into a kind of one-way layout to prevent cross-contamination,” said Scola. “With this building, we were able to custom design room by room what we wanted to do and make it an SQF facility.”
Cleanliness and sanitation are incredibly important considerations for Boston Sword and Tuna. The new facility features a flash freezer, live lobster tanks, sanitation systems, and conditioned shipping areas, along with many cutting-edge sanitation features. These include completely automated, wall-mounted sanitation systems, high-pressure soap systems, door foamers, an automated ozonated water system and more to ensure the highest possible standards of cleanliness.
Keeping a Low Profile
The virtually seamless quality of CF Partition Walls also help Boston Sword and Tuna lead the way in food safety. “A food processing facility needs to have smooth surfaces so that it doesn’t catch any type of particle that can get into the food,” said De Luca. “Metal panels are ideal for that because you can put up the product in a way that eliminates a lot of crevices and places where dirt can accumulate. Metl-Span is able to make a no profile partition panel, so they are totally smooth across the face. They can meet their USDA and wash requirements, pass inspection and be able to operate in a sanitary environment.”
Walls that can withstand regular, high-pressure, high heat washes are critical to maintaining food safety. “They have to be made of material that won’t rust,” said Scola. “They’re easy to clean and they don’t rust, which is great.”
The new Boston Sword and Tuna facility opened in April of 2020 with processing areas, loading docks, conditioned storage areas, and office space looking out over Boston and Logan Airport – all just a five-minute drive from the airport, ensuring efficient import and distribution. “It’s really cool,” said Montani. “Right on the ocean – it’s a flagship facility.”
If you’re interested in learning more about cold storage, clean rooms or the immense versatility of metal construction and insulated metal panels, get in touch with a Metl-Span representative.
Metl-Span is a NUCOR® company. (NYSE: NUE ); delivering high-quality, durable and energy-efficient insulated metal panels designed for unparalleled performance to stand the test of time.
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