Refrigeration, food waste, and food safety are intimately linked. Foods like dairy products, fruits, vegetables, fish products, and meats need to be stored in a frozen state throughout the entire supply chain. The cold transportation containers are responsible for the preservation of perishable foods in the adequate temperature range to deliver safely to customers.
But, once they are reached, they need to be stored in a cold chain logistics that is “refrigerated warehouses.”
There are many different types of cold storage, and the range starts from small single units to huge warehouse facilities, including:
These are versatile, cost-effective solutions for an organization to put a variety of foods, botanicals, and pharmaceutical goods. They can be mobile or fixed.
Blast freezers and chillers:
These are a perfect rapid cooling solution generally used by large restaurants, canteens, and catering firms.
These are larger versions of blast freezers and refrigerated containers. The unit is equipped with easy to clean interiors and has a number of unique safety features. The types of storage available in this range are double mega, triple mega, super mega cold stores, and cold rooms.
Pharmaceutical-grade cold storage:
Blood packages, medicines, and chilled pharmaceutical solutions are some of the delicate products that need sensitive transportation and temperature control. Research sites and Hospitals are the main users of these cold storages.
Plant-attached cold storage:
These are designed as part of a manufacturing plant. Final products are moved from the shop into the storage plant through conveyor belts.
Dedicated custom storage:
As vendors outsource their cold storage operations, these are used for expensive cold storage requirements.
How Does Cold Storage Work?
Cold storage units store biodegradable products at a set temperature that prevents them from decaying.
Let’s say you need to store fruit and vegetables, storing them at the right temperature will protect them from the risk of damage. These same foods, when stored in a warm temperature, will attract pests, and consuming such foods will likely get you food poisoning.
Food manufacturing companies often use their own cold storage facility. This ensures that the goods are safe and protected until they are reached to end-users and distributors. Many end-users and distributors also have their cold storage facilities to protect the items until they are used. To maintain a good workflow, workers often work with forklifts for loading/unloading purposes. Driving these powered industrial trucks in a cold storage warehouse needs skilled operators. As a forklift operator, make sure you have forklift certification to not only effectively operate the lift, but also prevent workplace hazards and injuries.
Some Challenges with Cold Storage
Refrigerated goods have their own unique needs. Customers’ needs are increasing, and they often want value-added services like repack operations. The cold storage facility also has to deal with the nature of goods being stored at a certain temperature.
Different products have different shelf lives, temperature ranges to be stored at, and transit time to prevent decay. Some products that require cold storage or a temperature-controlled warehouse are:
- Perishable food
- Perishable nutrient products
- Flowers and plants
- Biopharmaceutical products
Customers’ diverse needs make it difficult for a cold storage facility to have “one-size-fits-all” warehouses. Many custom cold storage offers value-added services to meet the diverse needs of their customers, which needs to charge higher costs to maintain good profit margins.
This is another cost-related concern. Even with warehouses having top quality doors and insulation, still, there is a loss of energy that increases the cost of operations.
Refrigerated Warehouse Trends
The growth in cold storage facilities has been driven by many factors like regulatory changes, delivery time expectations, online shopping, and new production technologies. There are a few trends that facility managers can consider when making safety upgrades to their cold storage operations.
Speed is an essential element in cold storage facilities, especially for fulfilling online orders. To maximize it, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), automated storage (AS), retrieval systems (RS), virtual reality, 3D modeling, and other automated technologies are becoming popular.
Maximized Warehouse Space
Many storage facilities use vertical space to maximize their workspace to meet quick delivery requirements and fight high operating costs. However, this trend makes fall protection equipment a safety priority.
Cold storage warehouse managers who understand these emerging trends in cold storage operations and the issues they project can ensure to keep pace up with the ever-increasing demands of the market!