From the outside, a cold storage warehouse looks no different to any other typical type of warehouse. However, cold storage warehouses differ internally in fulfilling their purpose of keeping temperature-sensitive products safe.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to cold storage warehousing, covering its target audience, types of products, specific industries, challenges faced, and best practices to follow. It will also explore the various challenges faced in cold storage, such as condensation, heat exposure, and damaged fridges/freezers.
Additionally, it will provide the best practices including automation, routine temperature checks, ensuring employee safety, optimizing storage space, and improving energy efficiency for logistics managers or professionals in industries that require cold storage solutions to implement.
Who is cold storage for?
Cold storage warehousing is suitable for any products or items that will spoil, degrade, or lose integrity when subjected to temperature fluctuations or warm temperatures. By chilling or freezing sensitive products, you preserve their purity and extend their life.
A cold storage warehouse aims to maintain a consistent and optimum temperature to slow the physical and chemical changes of goods. In some instances, goods are frozen to ensure there is no risk of damage.
Types of products
Perishable goods, such as fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products, and seafood, as well as pharmaceutical products, are all commonly stored in a cold storage warehouse between production and being placed on the shelf in a supermarket or convenience store.
This helps to prolong and preserve the quality of each product and ensures they remain fresh during transport.
Some additional products that may require a cold storage warehouse include artwork to prevent fading or paint flaking, cut flowers to improve longevity, candles to retain shape, cosmetics to improve shelf life, and seeds to increase lifespan.
Specific industries that use cold storage solutions include restaurants and food outlets, supermarkets, importers and exporters, pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations and agricultural producers.
The industries use cold storage to keep food, chemicals, and cosmetics at an optimum and controlled temperature to maintain freshness, quality, and properties. By using cold storage facilities, businesses within these industries can transport and store items that would usually go bad to improve their shelf life and save the company money.
Cold storage challenges
The cold storage market is rapidly expanding due to changing customer preferences, increased spending, and population growth. However, cold storage solutions are not without their unique set of challenges.
Refrigerated storage facilities are complex and require specialised warehouse software and equipment. In short, there are many factors and challenges cold storage has to face to provide an efficient and sustainable service to the food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Condensation in cold storage rooms and warehouses can be a problem. It is caused when warm air from the external environment makes contact with cold surfaces in the cold room. This could include doors, door frames, and metal fixtures.
In cold rooms, condensation should never be ignored. Persistent condensation can cause mould, cause damage to the structure of the warehouse, and may even breach health and safety standards. Therefore, identifying the cause of condensation in a cold storage warehouse is very important.
One of the best ways to eliminate heat exposure in a cold room is to ensure that the door remains closed. As the outside climate and external environment are warm, it is imperative that cold storage remains at a controlled and ideal temperature to prevent damaging and spoiling products.
Sometimes, damage can occur due to heat exposure before the product has even arrived at the cold storage facility. Often, products are subject to warm temperatures while being on and offloaded after a journey causing them to degrade due to outside heat.
One of the most common challenges cold chain networks face is damaged fridges and freezers. This calls for major concern as most products and packages placed in cold storage must remain at a chilled temperature. A broken freezer can cause products to become spoiled and unsatisfied customer reviews.
If a freezer has a broken seal, damaged door, or other issue that is not addressed, you could risk consumer safety and worker safety, and damage your business relationships as well as your bottom line.
5 best practices for cold storage warehousing
Here are five best practices to maintain your cold storage facility and overcome common challenges.
By automating your cold storage warehouse facility, you can minimise the requirement of manual labour and rely on automated storage retrieval systems and pallet racking systems to cut back costs. Running a cold warehouse storage facility involves an increased amount of costs compared to a typical warehouse due to the increased energy consumption required to keep rooms at low temperatures. Automation can guarantee savings by operating your warehouse efficiently with fewer employees.
2. Routine temperature checks
The best way to ensure that your cold storage space is at the optimum and correct temperature is to schedule routine temperature checks. This requires employees to monitor and track the temperature of the cold storage warehouse regularly and routinely to ensure it remains within a suitable range.
3. Ensure employee safety
Above all else, it is important to ensure your employee’s safety while they are at work in a cold storage warehouse. Every employee should be provided with a suitable uniform, for example, insulated trousers, coats, and gloves, and provided with significant training on how to operate in a cold environment, minimise health risks, and maintain high operational standards.
4. Optimise storage space
Optimising your storage space can help to reduce your energy bill and improve efficiency. To begin, you should ensure that products do not block ventilation vents and are not placed close to doors or entry points. This ensures products are not exposed to heat and helps to regulate temperatures.
Additionally, optimising and organising the shelving layout can help improve foot traffic allowing workers to find products and get around the warehouse efficiently and easily.
5. Improve energy efficiency
To improve energy efficiency in a cold storage space, ensure all the doors are sealed to prevent refrigerated air from escaping. Cooling systems have to work hard to keep the temperature low which drives up energy costs. By keeping doors sealed and closed, the temperature remains cool and requires less energy.
Additionally, energy efficiency can be improved by regularly cleaning condenser units and evaporator cells, investing in quick-close door hinges, and adding insulation to cold rooms.
At Optima Warehouse Solutions we provide cost-effective warehouse solutions and software for all kinds of businesses.
Established in 2001, we focus on providing high-quality yet affordable warehouse management software systems for warehousing and logistics companies, as well as WMS solutions to other sectors such as packaging, manufacturing and e-commerce.
With excellent knowledge of the complexities of today’s busy warehousing environment means that we have developed easy-to-use yet powerful Warehouse Management Software packages that will make your warehouse more efficient.
To find out more about warehouse operations and how they can support your business, get in touch today!