A Guide to Cold Storage Warehousing

20 June 2022

Craigieburn acquisition, Victoria

Cold storage and transportation is what makes it possible to send fresh foods and medicine all over the world without the risk of unnecessary storage. If you’ve ever wondered how your favourite ice creams gets delivered to your local shop – that’s how!

 

Cold storage is what gets perishable medicines to areas in need in a timely matter and without compromising the integrity of the drugs. Of course, once they arrive safely, they must be stored appropriately and this is where cold chain logistics, cold storage, and refrigerated warehousing comes into play.

 

What is a cold storage warehouse?

So, what is a cold storage facility? In essence, it is any space that is dedicated to the preservation of goods and products that are required to be kept at a certain temperature (e.g., frozen foods).

There are a wide variety of types and sizes of cold storage warehouses, and these range from single units, to large warehouse facilities, including:

  • Refrigerated containers: refrigerated containers provide cost-effective storage options for small amounts of items and can either be fixed or mobile.
  • Blast freezers and chillers: blast freezers and chillers are designed to quickly store and cool food before it reaches the end-consumer. These are often used by large catering firms and restaurants that require a lot of perishable ingredients.
  • Cold rooms: cold rooms are larger versions of refrigerated containers, blast freezers, and chillers – providing cold storage solutions for larger quantities.
  • Pharmaceutical-grade cold storage facilities: pharmaceutical-grade cold storage are often used by hospitals and research facilities. This is the type of cold storage that has special features designed to product drugs, vaccines, blood, organs, and other health-related products.
  • Plant-attached cold storage: plat-attached cold storage, as the name suggests, are constructed as part of a manufacturing facility. The finished products come off the line and are then moved immediately from the factory floor to the storage plant.
  • Dedicated custom storage: dedicated custom storage is provided by cold storage vendors to accommodate the more complex and/or expensive cold storage requirements.

 

How does cold storage work?

So, how does cold storage work? Cold storage refers to the process of safely storing perishable, biodegradable products in such a way that prevents them from decaying or spoiling. This type of storage allows companies to effectively comply with the appropriate government laws and regulations surrounding the health & safety of their customers when consuming the end-product.

Companies who make and/or package cold storage products will typically have their own cold storage facility. This enables them to keep their items stored safely until they are due for shipment with the relevant distributors to the end users.

At the other end of the supply chain, end users should have their own cold storage facilities. This allows them to protect the items in question until it is time for consumption (e.g., a walk-in fridge at a restaurant storing frozen meats).

Cold storage warehouses, as you can imagine, are highly regulated. This is because there are many health & safety laws surrounding perishable goods. In addition to that, cold storage and transportation tends to be more expensive. As such, many companies choose to outsource all of their cold storage and transportation requirements to certified third-party logistics providers.

 

What are the best practices for cold storage facilities?

When it comes to maintaining a cold storage warehouse and facility, there are a number of best practice tips that will go a long way to preserving the integrity of your goods. Without the appropriate monitoring and specialised utilisation, it can be difficult to keep temperatures at the right number at all times. Here’s how the most competitive cold storage facilities stay on top of it:

  • Adapt practices in cold temperatures: you must always use the appropriate equipment when operating in a cold storage warehouse. Naturally, not all tools are designed to last in freezing environments. Certainly, a touch-screen may thrive at normal temperatures, but in cold storage they are not appropriate. In the same breath, the cold temperature can also reduce battery life on certain tools, which is why it is always worth bearing this in mind when selecting the tools for use on daily operations.
  • Always maintain consistent records of temperatures: when you keep accurate and updated records in any work environment, it can yield positive results. This is even more important in a cold storage facility. As products stored in these warehouses are so sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, ensuring that they are kept at the right temperature at all times is an essentiality. Having reactive temperature sensors installed can help to track any potential lapses and protect your investment.
  • Fit employees with the proper work wear: the health & safety of your employees is paramount – particularly in a cold storage environment. They must be kitted-out with coats, insulated clothing, gloves, and all of the other necessary equipment that can keep them safe and productive in a cold storage environment. Failure to do so can have a serious impact on the productivity and integrity of your warehouse – thus negatively impacting your products.

 

What are the biggest challenges faced in a cold storage facility?

So, what are the biggest challenges faced by cold storage facilities? As an industry, cold storage faces a great number of challenges, such as:

  • Profit margins tend to be low
  • Customers always want value-added services (e.g., repack services)
  • Stringent demands on pallet manufacturing and traceability
  • Facilities and workflows must be streamlined effectively to maintain profits
  • Cold storage customers have diverse needs (every customer’s need is different)
  • The diversity of cold storage products means having to maintain a variety of temperature ranges
  • Shelf-lives vary significantly
  • The energy costs involved with maintaining such cold temperatures is significant (and on the rise)

 

How do you find the right cold storage company for you?

Cold storage is one of the most fundamental parts of the frozen food and perishable goods supply chain. As such, finding the perfect cold storage company for you is an essentiality. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Carefully planned proximity and efficient access
  • Warehouse sustainability and energy efficiency should be high on your list
  • Integrated logistics services
  • Quality track record

 

 

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