Planning a cold storage warehouse can be a daunting task. Planning an efficient cold storage facility involves one key consideration, material handling. What comes to mind when you think of material handling applications? One might think of pick modules, pallet racks, or even conveyors. Even more, items may come to mind for those who are well-versed on the subject. Although there is little variability among material handling applications, some products may require a unique approach. A product’s usage may vary in different environments so you should pay close attention to your warehouse design.
Cold storage is a warehouse design requiring a particularly unique approach. If you want to maximize your space and maintain overall efficiency it is essential to understand proper material handling standards. Therefore, the following characteristics of cold storage warehouses should be considered:
- Temperature of the Cold Warehouse Storage
- Consistency of Airflow
- Impact on Equipment
Cold Storage Temperature
ypically, cold storage warehouses require temperatures that are below freezing and up to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The efficiency of your cold storage warehouse design will depend on the ability of your warehouse equipment and materials to withstand the cold temperature standards. Inadequate equipment and/or materials may lead to costly downtime.
Cold Storage Airflow
When planning your cold storage it is important to note that compromised airflow is a major concern. Inadequate airflow can severely damage the viability of your cold storage business by causing spoilage and other product degradation. Therefore, maintaining a consistent airflow protects the products you store and your reputation as a cold storage provider. To maintain consistent airflow, consider product placement and shelving that encourages airflow throughout your facility. You may also want to consider wire shelves and adequate spacing between stored products. This will improve the quality and consistency of airflow, preserve your products, and prevent the overuse of cooling systems.
Warehouse Equipment Impact
Planning a cold storage warehouse involves selectiveness concerning the equipment used. If the equipment is not built for use in cold environments the following issues may result:
- Degraded functionality.
- Frequent equipment breakdowns.
- Equipment fragility when used with lifts and other tools.
Furthermore, some equipment (ex. roll-formed steel) has a reputation of being inadequate for use in cold warehouse storage. Therefore, you should do your research and seek advice when necessary to ensure the proper equipment is chosen. Here are some items of equipment to consider:
Narrow Aisle Racks:
Narrow aisle racks can help with airflow concerns while making it easier to move around products. They also tend to be taller than normal racks to accommodate more products. However, these may require more labor to switch out the products placed higher on the shelf.
Cold Storage Specialized Conveyors:
You cannot use traditional conveyor systems in a cold storage facility. They will degrade faster and lead to productivity concerns. Conveyors can aid in rotating your FIFO (First In First Out) products without exorbitant labor costs.
Cold Storage Specialized Forklifts:
Forklifts are vital in any warehouse. However, just like the conveyors, the forklifts need to be specialized for cold storage facilities to avoid costly downtime and equipment breakdowns. Forklifts are necessary to reach those high areas of your warehouse. They are also key to moving around your pallets.
Pallet Rack System:
Roll-formed steel degrades easily in cold temperatures. Welded structures impede flexibility and rotation of products. FIFO products require frequent rotation so you need to be able to get to them easily. While you could look for an appropriate roller or gravity product, having a quality pallet rack system is recommended. A quality pallet rack system would include adequate space to store your pallets, as well as adequate space in between pallets. This prevents your products from sticking together. A quality pallet rack system would also be made of structural steel and galvanized for durability and a flexible designed that encompasses a variety of storage needs. This would include rollers for push back systems, boltless racks for selective storage, and drive-in storage capabilities.