Careful design choices will save you money
All being well, you have designed and laid our your cold storage facilities right the first time. Unfortunately, it is often the case that they are not. The improper layout can lead to inefficiencies in your cold storage workflow. So if you made mistakes, what can you do about it now? And what should I consider when doing the initial design to avoid requiring these remedies?
Size : Cold storage facilities are much more expensive to construct and operate than ambient storage warehouses. The energy costs of a cold storage facility can account for 25% of the total operational expenses (Opex). Therefore, sizing it correctly with the most efficient use of space can translate to massive cost savings down the line.
Using a dense form of racking, like mobile racking, will increase the amount of product that can be stored in a given space. The disadvantage of this form of racking is that the access time can be slow as aisle need to be opened up for access. This is no good if you have a fleet of forklift trucks that need to access at the same time.
There are other racking methods such as drive in racking and push back storage, these allow for faster access but less density of racking space.
The storage requirements should be well though through at the start of your cold storage design process.
Once the racking system and accessibility have been decided, you need to choose what materials handling equipment will be used. This choice can also impact your racking choices and aisle spacing. Automated robotic systems can access narrower aisles and manoeuvre better than a forklift truck can for example. Using manually operated forklift trucks means you should consider selecting those with heated cabs to avoid mandatory 15-minute breaks for operators.
The intense cold found in freezers and cold storage can be a problem for batteries. Forklift trucks that run on batteries can suffer from this problem. You should consider forklifts with batteries specifically designed for use in cold storage. Li-Ion batteries also provide better performance in cold storage when compared to Lead Acid.
Implementing a proper maintenance and inspection protocol can prevent disasters
There has been increased legislation in recent years regarding the monitoring of cold storage temperatures and humidity. This covers both in the warehouse and during transportation. There are monitoring solutions for monitoring that aid in legislative compliance, such as those from AKCP.
These systems provide data logging, live monitoring, cloud storage of data together with graphs. These systems can assist in pinpointing specific problem areas, or temperature excursions.
In addition to a remote monitoring system, proper inspection and maintenance protocols can prevent disasters. Inspections should check for
- Product freezing
- Discolouration of walls and ceilings
- Mould, mildew and rot
Maintenance of your chiller system will prevent the above issues. keep your condenser clean, to allow for maximum airflow. Check your evaporator coils for restrictions. Make sure doors are sealed properly for maximum cooling efficiency. The proper implementation of these procedures as well as a suitable wireless temperature sensor monitoring system can save millions in damaged product.