What is a frozen storage warehouse?
Cold Store warehouse facilities in Egypt and Manufacturers operating in the cold chain are up against a supply chain that is currently undergoing major transformation and digitization as well as the complexities of the market itself. Some of the challenges involved in cold storage are: utilizing the most of the warehouse space, proper management and tracking of the products, and reducing energy consumption.
Frozen storage warehouse
A frozen storage warehouse, also known as freezer warehouse, is a facility to store products at a temperature below 32°F. In this type of warehouse, various processes that are aimed at maintaining the quality of the food, pharmaceutical and other products are executed. At a temperature below 32°F, products freeze and preserve their qualities for an extended period of time.
As per the Allied Market Research, the frozen food warehouse storage market was valued at USD 291 billion in 2019, which is expected to rise to USD 404 billion in 2027. The priority of companies involved in this market is to store products in appropriate conditions to maintain their quality, texture, nutritional value and flavor.
The products should be stored in optimal conditions to prevent the breakage of cold chain. Products like food items when exposed to unsuitable temperatures get crystallized, develop an unpleasing appearance and deteriorate. In case of other products like medicines and vaccines, the effects are just as harmful but less noticeable.
Frozen storage warehouses Vs Cold storage warehouses
Frozen storage warehouses are used to preserve products (mostly food products) for a long period of time safely. While, cold storage warehouses are tasked with maintaining a product, usually food, at an optimal temperature to keep them consumable and prevent them from getting spoiled in short term. The right choice between these two solely depends on the business requirements and the type of product being stored.
Both the type of warehouses is built from sandwich panel. It is the insulating element that prevents the transfer of temperature from inside to the outside environment. However, they differ in flooring. Freezer storage warehouses are well insulated to prevent condensation. On the other hand, cold storage warehouses do not require any such thing.
Management of a cold storage warehouse demands highly specialized skills, intimate industry knowledge and the ability to exploit materials, equipment and facilities. Managers of these warehouses are well aware of their frozen product needs and continuously act upon critical issues caused while handling perishable goods.
Management of frozen food warehouse needs years of dedicated learning and knowledge about emerging business trends. Managers need to plan beforehand to prevent problems. They regularly communicate with others in the market to get fresh ideas about new cold storage industrial equipments.
Some other important elements of these warehouses are compressors, evaporators, condensers, and expansion valves. The type of elements to be used and where to be installed depends on the cubic foot area to be cooled, temperature difference between the inside and outside of the warehouse facility and time period for which the product will be stored.
Both these warehouses are equipped with the same storage facilities. So, the choice revolves around their storage capacity and how well they facilitate the management of the products.
Design of a freezer food storage warehouse
For efficient logistics, the operations in a freezer food storage warehouse must be appropriately distributed. While designing these warehouses, keep in mind to leverage the available surface and ensure smooth and efficient processes.
First, determine the operations to be performed. For example, whether the orders will be prepared because this needs a specific space. Then, decide how much space will be needed for each operation: goods receipt, dispatch, storage and picking.
Entries and exits
To ensure efficient receipts and dispatch, frozen food warehouses are equipped with a dedicated room to carry out product quality control. These rooms must be kept cooled. These systems are equipped with a secured airlock system. It consists of two interlocking doors that never open simultaneously. One door leads to the freezer warehouse and the other to the outside. This facility prevents sudden changes in temperature, loss of cold, and condensation.
Storage and Order prep area
The storage area must be equipped with racks that can fit into the available space and ensure greatest throughput per location. Moreover, the space must be properly ventilated.
Order processes gets complicated when executed at freezing temperatures. Thus, it is necessary to find solutions that facilitate it. Pick stations can be installed outside the freezing area at a cold temperature so that the cold chain does not break. An alternative to this is voice picking systems, as they liberate the operators so that they can handle the products. The mobility of the operators in these warehouses is limited due to the heavy jackets they have to wear and the PPE (personal protective equipment) kits.
Equipment and systems inside a frozen storage warehouse
- Non-automated systems: In this system, operators are aided by forklifts to manually deposit and shift goods to and forth from the storage system. Frozen food warehouses can accommodate any conventional storage system like pallet racks. Compact systems are most commonly used that leverage space better than the pallet racks.
Another choice is movirack mobile racking that consist of high-density system that helps reduce the energy consumption in maintaining the warehouse at a controlled temperature. This is enabled by the optimal distribution of air among the large number of stored pallets.
- Automated systems: The operators’ throughput is significantly hampered under freezing temperatures. This can be prevented with an automated facility. AS/RS (automated storage and retrieval systems) are effective in leveraging the available space and ensuring safe and controlled product movements.
In frozen food warehouses, AS/RS can be installed that consists of either single or double deep pallet racking. In both the aisles, a stacker crane is used for depositing or extracting goods. Single-deep racks are used in those warehouses where direct access to the pallets in necessary. Double-deep racks are used to increase the storage capacity.
Automated pallet system is used for a larger storage capacity. It comprises of racks with deep channels. Goods from these racks are inserted or removed through a motorized shuttle.