Cold storage is the requirement of diverse industries today. In order to design an absolutely efficient, modern, and cost-effective cold storage warehouse, the most important thing to remember is that prior to beginning of construction, a thorough, detailed analysis of the requirements should be done during the design phase. Sensitive substances not only need cooling, but need cooling at specific temperatures (or ranges). Also, the temperature needs to be maintained steadily despite frequent opening/closing the cold storage for putting in or taking out material. In other words, there must be a balance between maintaining desired temperatures and not affecting the rate of throughput.
Energy conservation/green design, ergonomics, effective space utilization, adequate ventilation, human safety and comfort, loss prevention, and so on are some of the key features of modern cold storage.
How to drive efficiency in a cold storage warehouse?
Cold storage warehouse is primarily used to keep food (dairy, produce, meat) from spoilage, prior to transportation or sale. For this, efficient running and maintenance of the cold storage is essential. Wrong temperatures and other conditions can cause wastage and spell ruin to the stored products.
Here are some tips on how to reduce wastage, operational costs and increase profits
1. Optimum Storage System:
A tried-and-tested rule, the First-In-First-Out policy states that products should be sold as fresh as possible. Long storage (even in refrigeration) may cause spoilage. Therefore, products that have entered storage first (or have earlier expiry dates) should be taken out and utilized first.
- Double Deep Pallet Racking System: This racking system is a preferred system for warehouses where SKUs are low and pallet counts are high. It increases floor space usage by up to 65%. It is cost-effective, and offers immediate access to 50% pallets. This racking system uses two bays of racks that can be accessed by double reach trucks or other such modified equipment. Along with increased storage space it provides design flexibility also, making it a versatile racking system for use with different layouts and designs.
- Drive-In/Drive-through Racking System: This type of racking system is ideal for cold storages, as freezer space is expensive and hence should be used to the maximum extent possible. With drive-through racking, numerous pallets of the same kind of SKUs can be stored easily. While selectivity is sacrificed a little (pallets in the centre of the rack are not as easily accessible as the ones on the edges), this racking system compensates by providing ample stocking space.
- ASRS Shuttle System: ASRS shuttle is ideally suited for cold storages, especially for the Food & Beverages industry. Being automated storage system, this eliminates the need for human intervention in storing and retrieving SKUs. System can be fully automated or semi-automated as per requirement. Automation helps in maintaining hygiene and ensuring product accuracy. ASRS shuttle system offer high storage capacity and throughput than any other automated storage and retrieval system available.
An underrated, but very significant, aspect of reducing wastage is improper handling of products. Rough handling can cause rips and tears in packaging resulting in exposure to non-sterile environments that encourage spoilage.
3. Quality of inbound goods:
When accepting products for cold storage, it is imperative to check the temperature and quality of foods before consigning them to the cold storage. If the incoming food is on the way to spoiling (due to improper temperature before reaching your cold storage) it may rapidly go on to get completely spoilt. Weed out bad quality products before they enter cold storage.
Considering the supreme importance of temperature and humidity in maintaining freshness and quality of a refrigerated/frozen product, it is no surprise that a lot of emphasis should be placed on complete, proper, and meticulous attention to maintenance of the refrigerated facility.
5. Inventory Control:
Knowing how long to store something at a given temperature can make a huge difference to the extent of freshness or spoilage of the product. The general rule is that you can store seafood for two days, produce for three, and meat for a week, though there may be exceptions to the rule.
6. Temperature Alarms:
A simple, inexpensive but ingenious way to keep track of the temperature in your cold storage, temperature alarms alert you immediately to any change/drop in temperature and/or humidity, so that quick and effective action may be taken.
Cold storage warehouses form a critical part of food supply and logistics. The cold chain logistics is growing rapidly, and requires the latest technologies, systems and processes to cater to their needs and challenges. Cold storage solutions have to be inventive, robust, as well as flexible to adapt to the needs of individual businesses. Our high-quality, innovative storage solutions are customized to various products and environments. Contact us to minimize your facilities footprint while maximizing storage density and throughput.
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Related Topic: Warehousing Operations - Best Practices