Warehousing 6 min read
May 24, 2021 by Rashi Sood - 6 min read
Online businesses face the problem of storing and transporting temperature-sensitive and perishable products. Thus, there is a need for cold storage warehouse. However, managing a cold storage warehouse is a task to maintain.
If we store things at our home, they can be stored easily. However, when it comes to a professional and big cold storage warehouse, it is challenging to store products especially due to maintaining the right temperature. For the equipment in the warehouse to work in the best possible way, the right temperature in the warehouse must be set.
The majority of the items stored in a cold storage warehouse are frozen food items. But the cold warehouse plays a critical role for other industries as well, such as pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and high-tech electronics.
As the demand for cold storage warehouses is at an all-time high, there is a need for the warehouse operators to come up with the best solutions and strategies that can keep the products cold without increasing the operating costs significantly.
Problems Faced by Cold Storage Warehouse
Equipment & Human Resources
Equipment may take a toll inside cold temperatures. Taking the equipment out from the warehouse to a low temperature might lead to moisture creation. This can also damage the equipment.
Electric Lift Trucks
In a low-temperature environment, like that of a cold storage warehouse, the average life cycle of a lift truck battery can be hampered. A battery that lasts for as long as 8 hours at room temperature may now last only for 4 to 6 hours in a cold storage warehouse.
The low temperature in the warehouse might also affect the battery of the scanning devices. Constant exposure to such cold temperatures might degrade the life of the battery by up to 40-50%.
Best Practices to Manage Cold Storage
In a cold storage warehouse, the biggest challenge is obviously maintaining the cold. It affects the employees, scanners, computers, and increases wear and tear on equipment. It may also lead to the need for frequent maintenance of the machinery. However, it is imperative to maintain the cold temperature all the time to ensure all the products in the warehouse remain safe to consume and use.
If the temperature varies, the product may become unsafe for consumption. Or it may also lose its effectiveness. Let’s take a look at the best cold storage warehouse practices to keep the right temperature, equipment functioning, employees healthy, and products safe for consumption and use.
The most important warehouse practice is to control the temperature in each part of the warehouse. For example, frozen products must be kept frozen while refrigerated products must be kept refrigerated. The flow of energy must be controlled to prevent its movement from high-temperature areas to lower-temperature. This is imperative to ensure all products are kept in the right temperature zone.
In the home, the temperature is maintained through doors and walls. But this method is not useful in a cold storage warehouse where new customers are constantly coming on board, new products are entering, and the warehouse needs to routinely configure. For instance, the right temperature for ice cream is -10 degrees F, dairy products are 34 degrees F, and vegetables can be stored at 55 degrees F.
So, the best solution for cold storage warehouses is insulated curtain walls. These are plastic modular curtains that can be deployed to separate warehouse areas into separate temperature areas. They are effective and can create a temperature separation ranging between 15 degrees F to 40 degrees F.
Maintain Accurate & Up-to-date Records
It goes without saying that products kept in a cold warehouse are sensitive to temperature changes. So, the best warehouse practice is to not just keeping the products cold but as per the accurate cold temperature required for them. Here, technology comes in very handy. You can make use of temperature sensors that can automatically track the current temperature and trigger alarms.
Personal Equipment for Employees
Employee comfort is often an afterthought or even neglected in most cold storage warehouses. However, providing your employees with gloves, insulated pants, comfortable coats, and other such equipment to help them stay warm inside the cold warehouse is imperative. It ensures that the warehouse temperature stays consistent, and the employees too can stay inside the warehouse for long.
If employees are keeping the doors open for long to keep themselves warmer, this may affect the temperature in the warehouse. Or the temperature protocols may be violated. If an employee feels cold inside the warehouse, his efficiency to pick products and perform other operations is also affected. In a nutshell, providing equipment to the employees improves their efficiency as well as warehouse operations.
Use of Automation
Cold warehouse storage is expensive than other warehouse spaces, as most of the cost is associated with keeping the products at a low temperature constantly. Here, automation can help the cost down significantly by improving efficiency. Such as using Automated Storage and Retrieval System and equipping high-density pallet can make the operations efficient.
Notably, automation also reduces human efforts and help reduces labor cost that can help save on cost. Autonomous Guided Vehicles along with automated pallets and depalletizers for shuttling products throughout the warehouse make it possible for a few employees to manage all the operations. The advantages of automation go beyond cost-saving.
Human resources are prone to errors. They may leave the doors opened or forget to record the incoming or outgoing of the products. Automation helps in reducing the possibility of human errors. With the help of an automated system, you can reduce the cooling costs and also ensure all logs are updated.
Best Equipment for Cold
The equipment used in a cold warehouse should be designed for the cold. For example, using or operating a touchscreen when you are wearing a heavy glove is difficult. For this very reason, cold storage warehouse equipment needs to be designed with buttons that can be operated through gloves. When you move a device from one temperature zone to another, it can easily short out. This should also be kept in mind while procuring the equipment for a cold storage warehouse.
The best practices help in improving the equipment and procedure that can add up to savings and bring greater profits down the line.