If it is about our homes, most of us would want to keep the cold at bay. However, when it comes to a cold storage warehouse, one challenging factor is to maintain the right cold storage temperature for the product stored inside. This has to be done without compromising on the warmth of the personnel and equipment so as to let them function at optimal capacity.
Frozen and Refrigerated food items account for the majority of the food items that are stored in the cold storage facilities. This is not it! Cold storage also plays an important role in other industries such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and high tech electronics. Since the demand for the cold storage is at an alarming rise, there is a need to come up with strategic solutions that can help in keeping the product cold without affecting the operating costs.
Problems faced in cold storage and their solutions
1. Effect on the equipment
Cold often takes a toll on the equipment used as well as the people involved in keeping the product inside the frozen four walls moving.
There are a variety of ways in which you can maintain the efficiency even in an extreme working environment. The buttons that can be seen on the scanning devices of the cold storage facilities are huge enough to be felt via gloves. Its touchscreen is sensitive enough to respond to a glove touch without compromising on the accuracy of the information.
2. Effect on the batteries
Low temperature might also hamper the performance of the battery in these handheld scanning devices. Constant exposure to such a temperature may result in a degradation of the battery life by up to 40-50%. So the matter of the fact is, how long will any device run before it decides to give up on the temperature?
To cater to this, almost every device that is used in the cold storage are designed with the seals which successfully withstand the temperature changes right from the ambient conditions to the freezer which can cause the condensation to build up.
3. Effect on the Electric lift trucks
In the low-temperature environments, the average life cycle and the rate of charge of a lift truck battery can be hampered by as much as 20% to 50%. This means that a battery which lasts for about 8 hours in an ambient cycle will only last for 4 to 6 hours in the cold storage.
The only solution to this problem is using the higher voltage batteries so as to improve the run time. So, if you use a battery that is rated for 12 hours in the ambient conditions in the cold conditions, it will operate only with a cycle reduction of about 25%.
Best Practices for Managing cold storage
Here are few practices that will help you in better management of your cold storage.
1. Conquering the alternating temperature ranges
In a cold storage, energy savings is a recurring concern. We all know it is far more expensive to cool the air than to heat it. Moreover, different products might have a different temperature requirement.
For instance, vegetables need a temperature of 55°F, meat needs to be store at 28°F, dairy products at 34°F and ice cream needs a temperature of –10°F.
So, this can be quite a challenge for the third party logistics (3 PL) who may have clients all across the year with variable storage requirements. Moreover, in a cold storage environment, re-configuring the space is just not simple as it would have been in a conventional warehouse since you have to take temperature into consideration.
All warehouses that may need multiple temperature zones or where a mix of products that are stored change with the season, usage of modular curtain wall system may seem flexible. Take note, the refrigerated air can be expensive so after you make one change to the wall or a room, the cost savings is realized.
2. Opt for automation to avail savings
The cost of labor, land and energy is increasing at an alarming rate. This is the reason why the operators of the cold storage warehouse are on a lookout for automation so as to be able to control the cost. There are a variety of automated point solutions that can help reduce the escalating operational costs. In some cases, automation can also reduce the energy requirements by as much as 80%, space requirements by as much as 50% and finally the labor requirements by about 70%. Such savings can be realized in a number of ways.
3. Maximize the cube with dense storage
Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are not new to the cold storage warehouses today. AS/RS offer a high density, rack supported storage. This aids in deep and tall designs that help maximize the cube of the facility by minimizing the footprint.
4. Control heat loss
High-density storage tends to create a smaller area to cool. It also develops an environment that can minimize the heat loss. Since food is one of those areas in a cold storage where the air can escape it will be rewarding to keep this area as small as possible.
5. Automate palletizing
Accredited to the advancements in robotics, Palletizing is one area of operation in the cold storages. Since last many years, the manufacturers of the frozen products have been faced with a challenge of palletizing their frozen products in a manner that is efficient and cost effective. Because of the limitation in the robotics, earlier the products had to first come off the freezer to be palletized and then put back into the freezer. This trip back and forth in the freezer led to the introduction of the ambient air when then had to be cooled.
These are few of the best practices that can help all the frozen product managers effectively manage their cold storage warehouses. Do let us know, what you think of these practices, in the comment section below!