Business Development

Frosty Efficiency: Best Practices In Refrigerated Order Fulfillment


The worldwide market for frozen and refrigerated products is at a high. Meanwhile, as the global market for perishable goods is on the rise, efficient cold storage management becomes essential.

Effective cold chain management maintains the freshness of plants, flowers, and perishable food products, such as meats, fruits, fish, and vegetables. Moreover, distributors and manufacturers of specific chemicals, medicines, and vaccines usually store them in temperature-controlled facilities.

However, operating a cold storage warehouse can be quite challenging due to the need to maintain a constant temperature for storage, yet ensure the people and equipment are ready and comfortable to perform at their best.

Likewise, the cost of labor, land, and energy keeps on increasing. As a result, operators of cold storage warehouses are on the lookout for automation to keep costs in line. In this article are the best practices you can adopt for efficient refrigerated order fulfillment.

Best Practices In Refrigerated Order Fulfillment

In this section, we discuss some of the best practices in refrigerated order fulfillment. 

Employ Automation

The space for cold storage is more expensive than the remaining kinds of warehouses, mainly as a result of the expenses associated with maintaining a consistently low temperature in the space. Meanwhile, the more the cost of labor, energy, and land increases, users of cold storage are also increasingly looking for automation to restrain the cost.

Thus, automation is capable of optimizing the space available by enhancing cube utilization. Also, adopting pallet racking systems (of high density) with Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) and pallet shuttles will help optimize the vertical space.

Additionally, automation can minimize the requirement for human labor, resulting in substantial savings. This is because the usage of Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for shuttling products along the warehouse with automated depalletizers and palletizers ensures the cold storage infrastructure to function with less number of workers. 

Maintain Range of Temperature

Usually, one cold storage warehouse does not hold one type of product. Rather, it simultaneously keeps different products that need various temperatures. For instance, milk and other dairy products are preserved just above the freezing point at 1°C, ice cream is typically stored at -23°C, vegetables are preserved below 12°C, and meat products are kept just below the freezing point at -2°C.

It is essential that temperatures are well-regulated throughout the cold storage units. Also, they ought to be within their designated ranges. For instance, refrigerated products must be refrigerated, while frozen goods must remain the same way.

However, the difficulty attached to storing all these products in the same cold storage can be handled by creating a barrier between the temperature zones. Therefore, for warehouses that require various temperature zones or wherever the kinds of products being stored periodically change, there is an option that is flexible and of low risk.

The option is a curtain wall system (modular insulated) that can be developed and transported to different buildings, according to the requirement.

Reduce Heat Loss

After ensuring that various ranges of temperature are set in these cold storage units, it turns out to be essential that those static temperatures are well maintained without heat loss. Minimizing heat loss is critical, not just to achieve more energy savings but also to prevent content spoilage of cold storage.

Furthermore, one must carefully restrict the transfer of the head to stop its flow from high-temperature regions to lower ones. It is a  difficult task in a warehouse as new goods are often going into storage. Moreover, the warehouse may require routine reconfiguration.

Effective solutions to this problem are strip doors and rapid or high-speed doors. This is because they have high-efficiency refrigerated air. At the same time, they give room for unrestricted access to people and cars in all the areas of the site.

Use Appropriate Equipment

Several tools, equipment, and machines are usually used in cold storage, such as forklifts, pallet jacks, barcode scanners, computer sensors, etc. To carry out these functions, such equipment needs to be modified based on the low temperatures they should function in.

For instance, it may be hard to use touchscreen technology with thick gloves. As a result, touchscreens on this equipment are designed to be sensitive enough. It can easily respond to the touch of the gloves. The buttons that you get on scanning devices are also made big enough to be felt with the help of these work gloves.

In addition, the condensation that forms with the change or shift from one to another shuts out electrical equipment like scanners. Not only this, but handheld equipment and electronic forklifts are designed with seals that are built to withstand such fluctuations in their temperature.

Furthermore, being consistently exposed to the cold has a negative impact on the life of the battery. It leads to degrading battery life. Thus, batteries with high voltage must be used to extend their use cycle.

Manage Demand of Energy

Energy savings are an important consideration in cold storage. This is because cooling air is cost-intensive. However, there are building designs and suitable automation system selection that can reduce consumption in a cold storage unit, and managing demand can also help to save.

Cost control of energy during exigency decreases the effect of rising prices. Also, it can bring down the costs on a per-kilowatt-hour basis. Nevertheless, the difficulty is that costs and consumption are at their highest on days of high temperature when the thermal load is at its peak.

The key is to adopt improved control of sensors and algorithms that enable management of energy. The cold areas are over-cooled during the time of low demand. It is like, thereby, setting up a thermal buffer that reduces the requirements of cooling during the peak seasons.

Finally, Frosty Efficiency

Cold storage is increasingly becoming a vital part of the supply chain. When effectively managed and maintained, it provides numerous advantages, from increased product life to cost savings.

Efficient refrigerated order fulfillment practices are improvements in steps and equipment that can result in appreciable savings and higher profits in the long run.

To ensure frosty efficiency, every party involved should cultivate an effective partnership and have a great working knowledge of the best of practices for cold chain handling and transportation.

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