Keys To Success For Cold Storage Warehouse Management
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
As demand for perishable products grows worldwide, efficient and effective cold chain management requires strong partnerships and quick reactions. Shippers have been managing the challenge of transporting temperature-sensitive goods since the 1700s, when British fishermen began using ice to preserve their catch while at sea. Today, the global market for cold chain products is expanding rapidly.
"Even with the economic downturn, overall quality of life is improving globally," says Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
Developing countries are driving some of the growth. "Even with the economic downturn, overall quality of life is improving globally," says Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. "People with more economic means are more likely to consume vegetables, fruits, and protein-based products, creating higher demand for these products worldwide." And along with the increased interest in better living, the popularity of the home amateur cook and cooking programs in general giving new life to regular ingredients, more than ever, we are more aware of what is available to us. Correctly maintaining the temperature of perishable products is necessary to preserve quality and safety from the point of harvest or manufacture through the supply chain to the consumer. For food products, failing to maintain proper shipment temperature can result in textural degradation, discoloring, bruising, and microbial growth.
Correctly maintaining the temperature of perishable products is necessary to preserve quality and safety from the point of harvest or manufacture through the supply chain to the consumer.
While the U.S. focus on cold chain safety is continuously evolving, some developing countries are not yet keeping pace. The United States imports about 30 percent of its fruits and vegetables, and foods imported from less mature markets—where access to refrigerated trucks may be limited, for instance—can present a challenge. For this reason, a holistic view of the cold chain is vital.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS AND BEST PRACTICES Since cold chain logistics requires maintaining temperature integrity, controlling all the processes involved means high levels of integration and coordination. Each supply chain step and partner—from farmer/harvester or producer to the ultimate seller—shares responsibility and there are multiple phases and facilities along the way which contribute to keeping products fresh.
For example, cold chain transportation units are commonly designed to keep ambient temperature constant, not to bring a shipment to the optimal temperature. But if a shipment is not adequately prepared and conditioned, its quality may be compromised. Further, if a shipment will be exposed to extreme cold or heat along the transport route, considerations should be made to protect the products in transit. Transportation that extends over multiple days provides a host of opportunities for breaking the cold chain.
"Route selection is important in order to maximize cold chain performance, especially in winter and summer," says Hernandez. "In extreme temperatures, companies should select routes that minimize the number of times doors must be opened…[Furthermore,] knowing about extreme weather conditions in advance helps optimize equipment use and better protect products."
Contingency planning is also important. If a truck breaks down, or a refrigeration unit stops working, the carrier or 3PL must be ready to respond. Even with the best systems and monitoring technology, an unplanned delay or rerouting could potentially jeopardize shipment stability. Shippers should work with their transportation partners to develop contingency plans that clearly map out a strategy in the event of a delay.
GUARDING AGAINST VULNERABILITIES
The entire cold chain process should be about minimizing the time it takes to move a product through the system. Efficiency is key and vulnerabilities occur if there are delays in handing product off from one facility or stage to another. To manage cold chain shipments well, all parties must foster a strong partnership. Everyone needs a good working knowledge of best practices for cold chain handling and transportation. Food products must move as fast as possible to give consumers the most valuable, nutritious, wholesome product, with as much shelf life as possible.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER TEMPERATURE RANGES
Energy savings is a recurring theme in cold storage because it’s more expensive to cool air than to heat it. At the same time, different products require different temperatures. For example, vegetables can be stored at 55°F, dairy products are stored just above freezing at 34°F, meat is stored just below freezing at 28°F and ice cream is stored at –10°F. That can create challenges for third-party logistics (3PL) providers who may on-board or off-board clients throughout the course of the year with different storage requirements. “In the cold storage environment, reconfiguring space isn’t as simple as it is in a conventional warehouse because you have to take temperature into account,” explains Ray Stahnke, account manager at Randall Manufacturing.
“In the cold storage environment, reconfiguring space isn’t as simple as it is in a conventional warehouse because you have to take temperature into account,” explains Ray Stahnke, account manager at Randall Manufacturing.
For warehouses that require multiple temperature zones or where the mix of products being stored changes with the season, a temporary flexwall dividing wall system is one flexible, low-risk option that can go up, come down and be moved from building to building as business needs change. An advantage of using a flexwall system is that rapid doors can be installed within them as they have a bespoke supportive frame, so larger vehicles still have access to all areas of the site.
For decades, our team has helped companies in Perishable business with the leasing, sale and purchase of their facilities. Contact us today for a consultation on expanding the leasing your current refrigerated facility.
About the ComReal Miami Industrial Team: The ComReal Miami Industrial Team has been assisting companies with their South Florida real estate needs for over 30 years. The industrial team specializes in the sales and leasing of industrial properties. Visit Warehouses Market and/or call 786-433-2380 for more information.