Automation in Cold Storage Warehouses Reduces Costs

Automation in Cold Storage Warehouses Reduces Costs

Automation in Cold Storage Warehouses Reduces Costs

You may have heard of automated cold storage facilities, but for those who are unfamiliar, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are relatively new systems that have allowed for dramatic reductions in cost and improvements in the efficiency of cold storage warehouses. There are a number of reasons to invest in an AS/AR system, especially for those that are familiar with the difficulties involved in running cold storage facilities. Early advances in palletized storage were originally done to reduce the severity of the impact on personnel that had to constantly cycle between outside and below zero temperatures to avoid injury, but recent advances have taken advantage of palletized systems to all but completely remove employees from the frigid interiors of the warehouse.

Moving Employees Out Of The Freezer

The problem with constantly cycling large volumes of air in and out is the constant loss of chilled air and the constant introduction of humidity. While necessary to take care of your employees, this causes an inevitable buildup of ice and frost that can obscure important information, create dangerous surfaces, and require regular cleaning. By moving employees outside of the freezer you can not only place them in far more tolerable environments but massively reduce the cost of maintaining the temperature. Automated cold storage facilities also increase space efficiency by storing pallets in human-inconvenient, but automation-ready high-density methods. Improving storage density passively increases energy efficiency per item and makes for some of the most efficient and environmentally friendly cold storage warehouses in the industry.

Minimize Required Space

Current AS/RS tend to focus on high-density racks that minimize the horizontal footprint of the required space. Since the most heat tends to bleed in through the roof of a cold storage warehouse, switching to a very dense and efficient storage system minimizes the surface area relative to the volume of material stored within. In this way, automation allows facilities to store more material, run more efficiently, and better maintain the conditions that they exist to provide.

Automation In Cold Storage Construction

Choosing to upgrade or build a cold storage warehouse is a big investment, but it is a big investment into the future. Relying on people to scurry through an inhospitable climate and collect items is not just inefficient and dangerous, but an unnecessary holdover from the past. With automated storage and retrieval, many of the issues that exist in the industry become much less serious concerns while improving operations in nearly every way. It can be easy to feel complacent when everything is working smoothly, but take the time to consider what your business will need in the coming years, and what new opportunities become possible with significantly improved facilities. Cold storage warehouses as a whole are not going anywhere, but as new automation technologies come to market supply chain costs are increasingly becoming a focal point of competition..

Are you ready to upgrade or build a cold storage warehouse? Contact Us today. We can help!

Lean Logistics And How It Can Help Cold Storage Facilities

Lean Logistics And How It Can Help Cold Storage Facilities

Lean Logistics And How It Can Help Cold Storage Facilities

Lean Logistics: A Timely ConceptIf your enterprise has considered implementing new cold storage facilities or upgrading or renovating an existing refrigerated warehouse, your management appreciates the importance of remaining competitive in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Today, few concepts possess the timeliness of agile, lean management. This idea permeates many aspects of organizations: it has impacted logistics in a striking way.

How can lean logistics help your company utilize its cold storage assets more effectively? Why does this consideration hold the potential to expand your revenues in the future?

Going Lean

The idea of “lean management” gained widespread popularity after automakers in Japan during the post-World War II era demonstrated the competitive benefits of establishing production systems which functioned with as little waste as possible. By designing inventory systems to meet the needs of workers on the factory floor, and gearing production to customer demand, management could eliminate costly overruns. Companies also utilized warehouse space more efficiently. These innovations translated into more profitable manufacturing.

Today, an emphasis on “lean” systems influences everything from software design and development to logistics. The field of Lean Logistics, in fact, enables companies to cut waste and optimize available resources by conducting a systems analysis process to literally track the course of individual products through every step in the supply chain.

Responding to Customer “Pull”

The “pull” initiated by a customer’s order initiates a chain of events reverberating across the entire distribution mechanism. Just like manufacturing facilities, restaurants, and other service companies which typically rely upon cold storage have begun appreciating the cost savings capabilities of implementing waste-cutting measures at every stage in the supply chain.

Have you considered working with your construction company to enhance the agility and leanness of your cold storage facilities? If you notice competitors gaining marketplace advantages, the time may have arrived to initiate waste-reduction logistics strategies! Today, innovative designs for cold storage facilities help many companies utilize transportation and warehousing assets more effectively on a daily basis, ultimately contributing to the firm’s bottom line.

Better Supply Chain Management

Yet another benefit of better supply chain management involves increasing delivery speed. When goods arrive on time in an environment permitting tracking, enterprises such as grocery stores, restaurants, delis, convenience stores, salad bars, orchards, dairies, and institutions can satisfy customers without losing potential revenue because of inventory shortages or wasteful oversupply situations.

Tools such as Six Sigma Logistics help highly trained managers implement lean methodologies in a systematic way. The ability to harness the flow of information generated by statistical process control tools can greatly assist businesses as they model the flow of products within a distribution network.

Implementing Lean Logistics

Today, automation and the application of disciplined, statistics-based strategies play an increasingly vital role in helping companies gain the greatest possible utility from their cold storage assets. Cutting waste in this area could enable your firm to devote resources to marketing or other revenue-generating activities. You might enhance enterprise profitability significantly!

When you require a builder capable of assisting your company in implementing lean logistics through the construction of well-designed and equipped, modern cold storage facilities, consider calling upon the services of Southwest Vault Builders, Inc. We serve a broad geographic area!

Why Food Processing Facilities Need Emergency Action Plans

Why Food Processing Facilities Need Emergency Action Plans

Why Food Processing Facilities Need Emergency Action Plans

“From farm to table” is a wonderful thought, bringing to mind notions of freshness and heartiness. Still, most consumers understand that in an industrial and technological economy, their food makes a few stops along the way. The good news for them is that the processing and storage of foodstuffs today goes a long way to retain freshness. The challenge for cold storage facilities and other processing plants is to keep the food intact and safe from contamination. While preventive procedures are consistently effective, no protection yet devised is 100 percent foolproof. This is why an emergency action plan for food processing facilities is crucial for the public health and for a successful business.


Procedures directed by an emergency action plan for food processing facilities and cold storage facilities should contain no ambiguity. Each responsible party or individual must know precisely the task she must perform in the event of an emergency. Since food infections occur from scenarios like natural disasters, accidental contamination or intentional tainting, myriad agencies—from local health officials to federal law enforcement—must be contacted. Which ones and who initiates contact should be spelled out in a comprehensive EAP. In the same vein, personnel do well to know exactly how the internal hierarchy operates under emergency conditions.

Response Team

Clearly, certain individuals will be designated to deal directly with an emergency. The plan should establish their qualifications and authority, thereby avoiding confusion when trouble strikes. The responsible employees will secure the facility; evacuate non-essential workers; make contact with first responders on the outside; and, among other things, protect and preserve the evidence of contamination. They will also perform a preliminary assessment of the nature and scope of the problem. Should changes in the roster of this crisis team be needed, the EAP must be updated immediately to reflect the revisions.

Floor Plan

In a food emergency, the flow of foot traffic is of paramount importance. For one thing, a large-scale evacuation of personnel might be required. Optimal EAPs will map out the routes, accounting for populations and corridor dimensions. Quick access to human resource rosters is necessary to account for each individual. On the other hand, police, firefighters and/or healthcare workers who will enter the building should have the most direct route possible from entry point to contamination source. Emergency workers need to know where they are within the facility at all times. Furthermore, an easily comprehendible floor plan will quicken response times.

Saving Information

Depending on the emergency, vital data can be lost if electronic or paper information systems are disrupted. Cold storage facilities, for example, may record periodic temperatures and changes in contents. The use of automated storage and retrieval systems require feeding computers with regular data. Thus, a procedure to back up crucial knowledge is a fundamental component of an effective EAP. Cloud storage for electronic records, and offsite warehousing for files and records, are ways in which processors and warehouses preserve vital information.

Cold Storage Warehouse Fire Hazards

Cold Storage Warehouse Fire Hazards

Cold Storage Warehouse Fire Hazards

There are a number of special dangers and problems associated with cold storage facilities and cold storage maintenance. Listed below are the four primary kinds of refrigerators used in cold warehouses:

  • 32° to 65°F coolers for storing foods like fruit, eggs, and peanuts;
  • 16° to 35°F chilling rooms for curing meat;
  • -10° to 5°F freezing rooms for storing frozen food items like beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables;
  • -35° to 0°F sharp freezers for flash freezing and food storage.

Special Dangers in Cold Storage Facilities

Cold storage facilities carry all the same potential dangers as a standard warehouse, as well as a few special risks and fire hazards that have to be dealt with.

IMPs (Insulated Metal Panels)

Effectively sustaining adequate temperature ranges in refrigerated warehouses presents itself as an obstacle that is frequently cleared by installing insulation in the ceilings and walls of the facility. However, it’s important to avoid using unprotected spray-on foam padding while performing cold storage maintenance in order to lessen the chances of fire spreading quickly across the building’s ceilings and walls.

IMPS (or insulated metal panels) are good options to think about using. Some IMPs contain flammable core padding materials, which raises the facility’s fire load, so it’s important to choose IMPs made with non-flammable cores (like those that are comprised of mineral wool), or those that have been approved according to FM approval standards.

FM Global offers recommendations for preserving plastic-type foam padding (which is usually made of stretched polystyrene, polyurethane, or polyisocyanurate material) in its 1-57 Data Sheet entitled Plastics in Construction. If polystyrene insulation is present in the ceilings and/or walls, it needs to be changed or protected with a thermal guard according to this data sheet.


Very frequently, ammonia is the preferred coolant in refrigerated storage facilities. In-depth information about mechanical cooling systems can be found in FM’s Global Data Sheet #7-13 entitled Mechanical Refrigeration and ANSI’s Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems.

Anhydrous ammonia, which is a highly combustible gas, has the ability to cause catastrophic fires and booms. Standard ammonia is considered a dangerous substance as well, and as a result its use must adhere to OSHA’s safety guidelines for cooling systems that use over 10,000 pounds of coolant at a time.

When it comes to ammonia, it’s important to remember that chemical spills may lead to substantial pollution of unprocessed materials and end products. In order to lessen the degree of pollution in cold storage maintenance, refrigerated warehouses ought to be divided into sections and outfitted with ammonia sensors in any area where the possibility of ammonia leakage exists.

Increase in Processed Food Consumption Creates Need For New Cold Storage Warehouses

Increase in Processed Food Consumption Creates Need For New Cold Storage Warehouses

Increase in Processed Food Consumption Creates Need For New Cold Storage Warehouses

The advancements that have taken place in agriculture over the past few generations have been exponential in nature and created a greater need for cold storage facilities to store the excess crops grown. This growth has become necessary primarily due to the continuing growth in the world’s population.

A Changing World

In addition, economies like those in countries like Brazil, China and Mexico have become much more growth-oriented. That’s led to higher incomes, which can be seen as a positive sign from a macro-economic perspective. The problem is that the more basic diets that were prevalent in previous eras within these countries have evolved into ones in which processed foods have a greater place on dining tables across the world.

One of the negative byproducts of the greater consumption of processed foods has been the health concerns that have developed. A large increase in the number of people afflicted with conditions like diabetes has been seen, primarily due to weight gains caused by eating such foods.

Despite this issue, companies that are looking through the prism of both domestic and international markets have come to realize the need for more cold storage warehouse construction. Without access to cold storage facilities, the chance at gaining a greater market share disappears.

Always On the Run

Looking at the issue of more processed foods in the diets of consumers has been especially noticeable when it comes to the United States. Tighter schedules and more activities within families has brought with it a heavier reliance on easy-to-make meals that strongly lean toward the area of processed items.

In some cases, processed snacks have become an easier option for people who don’t have time to sit down for a full meal. While the healthiness of such meal choices is open to question, the processed nature of the product helps reduce the amount of time required to actually cook up a standard dish.

The fact that working women have become commonplace within the American economy goes far in explaining why cooking meals from scratch has been sharply reduced. In 1965, women cooked for nearly two hours every day, but by 2007, that time had been reduced by 47 percent. Within the last decade, it’s a safe wager that there’s been no real shift back toward that earlier time.

A noticeable growth in the number of restaurants and other food outlets that look to serve these markets translates into the need for additional cold storage facilities. Not having access to them or attempting to get by with an outdated model brings with it the danger that the consumer will end up looking elsewhere to purchase a meal.

Continued Growth on the Horizon

Such socio-economic shifts certainly catch the eyes of companies that might be considering cold storage warehouse construction at some point in the future. That’s because they know that cold storage facilities will help fill in more of the leaner business periods that a company may see during the course of a year.

More innovative approaches to cold storage warehouse construction help find new ways to reduce the cost of operating cold storage facilities. With energy costs always a wild card in this situation, that facet of the issue can often be vitally important to a company’s bottom line.

Those tasked with projecting this issue into the future see continued growth. While that may take a toll on medical costs around the world, those companies that are considering any cold storage warehouse construction in the future should strongly think about taking the plunge.