Cold storage is the storage of any temperature controlled substance that prevents the substance from decaying or not adhering to the basic regulations that apply to that item.
Cold storage warehouse management is a highly specialized skill which requires comprehensive knowledge of the industry, the ability to monitor processes closely occurring both inside and outside the facility and constantly staying up to date on new and evolving state of the art technological solutions available.
Effective management of a cold storage warehouse is no small joke, however it requires close attention to detail and management techniques to ensure optimum productivity is maintained, despite the harsh & freezing conditions. As demand for perishable products grows across the world, efficient and effective cold chain management requires strong partnerships and quick turnaround time.
Distribution centers across the regions share many of the same challenges, whether it be space optimization, picking methods or the integration of automated systems. However, managers of cold storage facilities find themselves in the peculiar situation of not only being responsible for maintaining the quality and safety of their sensitive stock, but also the safety and well-being of their workers under these typical environmental circumstances.
Refrigerated and frozen foods account for the majority of products stored in cold storage warehouses. Cold storage is also vital for other industries as well such as pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals and even high-tech electronics.
Following are some challenges impacting cold storage warehouse management:
1. Food protection
Regulating and maintaining the right temperature and humidity to maintain and extend the life of your products can be challenging as well as risky, as different products require different temperatures to be sustained. Traditional temperature monitoring systems depend solely on the experience of the operator who must be on-site to adjust and manage the whole system.
2. Maintaining product’s lifecycle
Correctly maintaining the temperature of perishable products is necessary to preserve its quality and safety from the start point of production through the supply chain to the consumer. Failing to maintain proper shipment leads to textual degradation, discoloring, damaging and infective growth of food products.
3. Labeling product and racks
Barcode labels create the essential link between physical products and the computer systems that monitor receiving, storage, retrieval and shipments. Appropriate freeze-grade rack labels serve as a critical factor in the entire traceability system. Freezer-grade rack labels develop a strong permanent bond on common rack surfaces, and can be applied in environments as low as -20°F.
4. Product traceability
In the case of temperature excursions, finding out and determining the affected product is only possible with accurate location information. Products like fresh produce require additional control over factors such as carbon dioxide and humidity. Very Specific and accurate documentation is mandatory.
5. Fulfillment and courier shipments
The entire cold chain process should be about minimizing the time it takes to move a product through the system. Chances of vulnerabilities are higher if there are delays in handing products off from one facility to another.
- The average shipment—both inbound from supplier to distribution center, and outbound to customers—is made up of less-than-truckload amounts of food products.
- All products must be loaded correctly to prevent any cross-contamination with the raw product and damage with the heavier items placed at the bottom.
Perishable foods, particularly seafood, pre-cut produce and ready-to-eat products, can become unsafe if not kept at the appropriate temperatures.
Best practices in a cold storage always help you in better management of the storage; here are a few practices that will help you in better management
1. Conquering the alternating temperature ranges
In cold storages, energy savings is a recurring concern. It’s a fact that it is far more expensive to cool the air than to heat it. Moreover, different products might have varied temperature requirements.
For example, vegetables need a temperature of approximately 12° C , meat needs to be stored at around -2° C, dairy products at 1°C and ice cream needs a temperature of –23°C.
So, this can be quite a challenge for 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 not as easy as it would have been in conventional warehouses because one needs to take care of the cold temperatures.
All warehouses that need multiple temperature zones or where there are a mix of products that are stored change with the season, usage of pre-fabricated wall system may look feasible and flexible. But, the refrigerated air can be expensive, so the cost savings are realized only after you make one change to the wall or a room.
2. Opt for automation to avail savings
The cost of workforce, space and energy is increasing at an exponential rate. Because of this the operators of cold storage warehouses are moving on to automation to be cost effective. The increase in the operational costs can be reduced through various automated solutions. 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 several ways.
3. Control heat loss
It will be wise to keep the area as small as possible for food since food is one of those areas where air can escape easily. High-density storage tends to create a smaller area to cool. It also develops an environment that can minimize heat loss. Storing stuffs closely creates a smaller area to cool and an environment that minimizes heat loss. Automated storage also minimizes the amount of warmer…