Best practices for managing a cold storage warehouse

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The flow of content:

Introduction
What is a cold storage warehouse?
Types of cold storage warehouse
Items to be kept in a cold storage warehouse
cold storage warehouse problems and their solutions
Best practices for managing your cold storage warehouse warehouse

 

Introduction

Quarantine messed up all our lives. Now the whole world seems to be at a  standstill. I remember, before the lockdown, I used to have a soft-corner for “ice-cream.” I am sure a lot of you people know how mouth watering the taste of ice-cream could be. What you might not know is how they are stored and transported to their end customers.

Items like ice-cream need to be stored in a special type of warehouse where the temperature is controlled. Such a type of warehouse is typically called a “cold storage warehouse.” The parameter for temperature control inside a cold storage warehouse is based on the items stored in that warehouse.

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The U.S. cold storage warehouse market is worth 15.26 billion dollars as of 2018, and it is expected to expand at a CAGR of 3.7% from 2019 to 2025. A number of key factors contribute to this growth, such as technological advancements, processing, and storage, etc.

In this blog, we will discuss A-Z, and all there is to learn about cold storage warehouses. Let’s start with the basic definition of a cold storage warehouse.

 

What is a cold storage warehouse?

As discussed earlier, a cold storage warehouse is like any other store with the slight difference being the ability to keep temperature sensitive items in a temperature controlled environment. This helps in preventing the spoilage or decaying of temperature sensitive products. Yes! Ice-cream is one of them. 

Cold storage warehouses are warehouses where things are stored in cold environments and temperatures are monitored closely.

 

Types of cold storage warehouse

Even if the definition of cold storage warehouse sounds simple, I assure you that the topic in itself is not so simple at all. There are different types of cold storage warehouses out there, from individual units to entire dedicated facilities. Let’s explore them in detail.

Refrigerated containers

The most basic and cost effective of them all, refrigerated containers offer the best solution for cold storage warehouses of small quantities of temperature sensitive products. Being compact in size, such containers often have the flexibility of mobility. 

Blast freezers and chillers

Freezers and chillers are ideal for big companies out there who need to store and cool their food before it could reach the end customers. Large restaurants and catering companies also use them.

Cold rooms

The name says it all. A large room to store things in a cold environment. Cold rooms are the larger alternative to the options listed above.

Pharmaceutical grade cold storage warehouse

A featured packed cold storage warehouse used by hospitals and research institutes. These units specialize in dealing with bio-pharmaceuticals, blood, and certain vaccines.

Plant attached cold storage warehouse

Plant attached cold storage warehouse is for some manufacturers who want to keep their cold storage warehouse in house. Products can be transferred using a conveyor straight from manufacturing to a dedicated on-site cold storage warehouse.

Dedicated custom cold storage warehouse facilities

Many companies have complex needs based on the nature of their products. Those who chose to avoid the cost of having an entire cold storage warehouse opt to use a custom cold storage warehouse facility provided by a 3PL.

 

Items to be kept in a cold storage warehouse

The US cold storage warehouse market is highly diversified, and there are a lot of products that contribute towards its growth.

cold storage warehouse

Not only your ice-cream seller, but there are different kinds of businesses that use cold storage warehouse services for all kinds of products. Let know about them and why they are being kept in a cold storage warehouse environment. 

Candles

Candles are temperature sensitive. If you are living in an arid climatic zone, storing candles in a normal warehouse will start to melt.  It will lead to ruining the shape of the candle or mix separate colors together. All these will lead to spoilage of candles.

Film

Camera films should be stored in a cold environment. The heat will degrade the quality of pictures, and hence they should be stored in a cool and dark place.

Artwork

The artwork is another item that must be stored in a cold storage warehouse. This is due to the fact that colors tend to fade in hot climates. The paint from old paintings will also start to peel off the canvas.

Plants

 If you have your own Boutique store or a small nursery, you must know the struggle of keeping plants lively. The cold keeps the plants fresh and healthy. Cut flowers also stay fresh longer in cooler temperatures.  

Lipstick

Cosmetics are also one of the most vulnerable items due to hot climates. Lipsticks tend to melt down in hot climates. Preserving them in cold storage warehouses results in their longevity.   

Cologne

Whatever we told about lipstick can be said the same for cologne too. Cologne, essentially being scented with low quantities of essential oils, has the tendency to vaporize, making it lose its scent. Perfumes, on the other hand, have 20-30 percent of essential oils concentration and hence are safe to store at room temperature.

Freeze food

All of the sea foods, meat products or dairy products like cheese, milk, etc are either frozen or stored in a cold storage warehouse till they are ready to be sold to the end customers. This helps in slowing down the decomposition rate.  

Medicine

Some types of medicines need to be kept in a cold storage warehouse to ensure they don’t get contaminated. Items like blood samples and medical supplies like IV doses must be preserved in a cold environment.

 

Cold storage warehouse problems and solutions

Unlike regular dry storages, cold storage warehouses have their own set of problems that one needs to deal with. Let’s understand the problems faced by cold storage warehouses along with their possible solutions.

Effect on equipment and humans

Cold temperatures often affect the equipment inside. If we want to take the product out for palletization, the sudden change in temperature will result in moisturization, eventually damaging the product. Prolonged exposure to artificially created cold environments is not good for humans too. 

Solution

Due to technological advancements, palletization is now possible within the four walls of cold storage warehouses. As for the safety of humans in working environments, insulation clothes must be provided at the workplace with oversized buttons placed on scanning devices that can be felt via protective gloves. 

Effect on batteries

Long temperature affects battery efficiency too. At extremely high or low temperatures, batteries tend to charge only 50% of their capacity at room temperatures. So, the time period of how long those handheld scanners will work a single pair of batteries gets significantly lowered.  

Solution

Every battery operated device in a cold storage warehouse should be designed with seals that can withstand temperature changes from ambient to freezing temperatures without causing condensation to build up.

 

Refrigerated goods having different requirements

Not everything kept in a cold storage warehouse needs to be placed under freezing conditions. Different products may be needed to be stored under different temperature ranges.

For instance, vegetables need a temperature of 55°F, meat needs to be stored at 28°F, dairy products at 34°F and ice cream need a temperature of –10°F.

Solution

If you have a need for storing diversified products, you can get a 3PL who has a dedicated custom cold storage warehouse facility for their customers.

 

Best practices for managing cold storage warehouse warehouse

Correctly maintaining the temperature of perishable products is necessary to preserve the quality of the products. For food products, failure to maintain temperature during shipment can result in discoloration, textural degradation or microbial contamination. Here are some of the best practices for managing cold storage warehouse warehouse

High speed rapid door

In a cold storage warehouse, attaining that desired temperature is not so difficult as it is to maintain it. Goods will come and go through the facility. The flow of goods takes a toll on electricity consumption as well as the cooling system. 

Attention should be paid to high speed rapid doors both for onsite facilities and transport vehicles. These doors are capable of opening when required and quickly closes once the person/forklift/vehicle has passed through. The automated doorway system is a quick and efficient way of handling cold storage warehouse operations.

Contingency planning

One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.

-Randy Pausch

 

Contingency planning is also an important factor in managing your cold storage warehouse. If a truck breaks down or a refrigeration unit stops working, you must be ready to respond immediately. An unplanned delay or rerouting could potentially jeopardize your shipment stability. That’s why shippers should work with their transportation partners and develop contingency plans in the event of a delay.

Temperature ranges

One of the untold best practices of managing your cold storage warehouse  is efficiently managing power consumption. Different products have different temperature needs. For example, vegetables are stored at 55F, dairy products are stored at 34F and ice cream stored at -10F.

That challenge to store all of these products in the same warehouse can be coped up by creating a barrier between the individual temperature zones. This minimizes the area that needs to be cooled under specific temperature ranges and greatly reduces the energy costs.

 

Epilogue

The market of U.S. cold storage warehouses is extensive and has its own unique set of challenges to cope with, along with the regular warehouse challenges. From storage to transportation, it takes a huge toll to successfully handle temperature sensitive items. Throughout the blog, we covered each and every aspect related to cold storage warehouse to give you insightful data regarding handling temperature sensitive products and managing cold storage warehouses. I hope you found answers to all the queries you might have regarding cold storage. 

If you feel something is missing or any extra piece of information that could be added to this existing topic, feel free to write it down in the comment section below. Orderhive is constantly coming up with new topics related to the supply chain in the ecommerce industry.

Stay tuned, be at home, and, most importantly, stay safe!

 

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Snehasish Hansda

Snehasish Hansda

A curious soul and an animal lover. I am someone who is crazy in nature, geek by birth, and writer by profession. Spreading the aura of creativity at Orderhive.

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