Cold storage is one of the most important parts of the frozen food supply chain – linking the manufacturing process with transportation to the retailer.
With supply chains becoming more and more complex and increasing in length, it’s more important than ever for providers to ensure that perishable products that are stored in their warehouses are kept within a strict temperature range (normally between -20 degrees Celsius and -28 degrees Celsius). A temperature difference of even a few degrees has the potential to cost companies a huge cost so there is no room for error.
A good provider can make a significant difference to the success of your business and plays a key role in lowering storage and distribution costs and maintaining customer satisfaction. Retailers expect frozen food products to retain their quality and be delivered on time and if the provider doesn’t deliver, this can ultimately damage your brand and reputation.
As well as effective temperature control systems, when it comes to selecting a cold storage warehouse for the storage of frozen food products, there are a number of additional considerations that producers and manufacturers must bear in mind.
1. Design Aspects
The design of the cold room structure will affect the expediency and efficiency. Therefore, you should analyse and compare different cold storage facilities before deciding on the best match for your business. The cold room walls will affect the refrigeration efficiency, so you should evaluate the module. Ideally, a wall with thick insulation is ideal for regular and deep freezing applications while the standards cool rooms for vegetable storage can be less stringent.
The floor is also an important design consideration in the refrigeration structure. If you install the cold room on a normal cool floor, ice will build up on the surface. This is inconvenient for people who use the space and it poses falling hazards. You should select a refrigerator which is compatible with floor heating systems. This feature will keep the floor free from ice and, consequently, safe. Additionally, ensure that the shape, size and door design matches your expectations.
2. Refrigeration System
The type of refrigeration system used in cold room storage is an important aspect. Generally, cold rooms are serviced by an evaporator which draws heat from the inner compartment and a condenser which releases the heat. However, different refrigeration systems are derived from this basic concept. If you are interested in a simple cold room with a single temperature zone, you should choose clip-on refrigeration. This is designed with the evaporator and condenser in the same housing.
On the other hand, the remote condensing system separates the two units, so they are connected via pipelines. This is more efficient in releasing heat, so it is suited for large storage rooms. If you want to install several connected cold storages at an economical price, you will need a centralised refrigeration facility. The system is perfect for large operations like supermarkets and warehouses.
3. Temperature Regulation
You should choose a cold room facility with ideal temperature regulation capabilities. Ideally, you should have a control panel in which you can set the preferred settings, and the cold room should be able to sustain them. Additionally, consider installing a facility with separate cool zones for maximum functionality.
4. Proximity, Access & Location
Using cold storage facilities close to your production or growing sites can be a huge benefit in terms of minimising fuel miles and costs and reducing your carbon footprint. Additionally, a key consideration should be whether the warehouse has easy access to major transport routes. With a number of vehicles coming in and out of the facility each day, easy access ensures a streamlined and efficient operation.
If the warehouse is part of a wider network which spans different countries then this gives you scope for expanding your business into other warehouses in these locations.
5. Integrated logistics and track record
There has been a rise in cold storage providers expanding their portfolio to become fully integrated logistics providers, encompassing storage, distribution and value-added services. There are a number of benefits that arise from outsourcing your entire logistical operation to one provider including saving valuable time and resources which can be diverted into other core business functions.
Furthermore, you will have greater access to highly knowledgeable warehouse professionals who have a huge amount of experience in the logistics industry. It’s also important to look at the track record of a cold storage facility to see if they are meeting their KPI targets and if they are already catering to the needs of major frozen food producers.
6. Cold Storage Facilities
The facilities on offer are also of the utmost importance. Is the facility built to conserve energy while still maintaining the right temperature? Does the facility offer chilling, ambient temperature storage, and frozen storage?
7. Integration with Other Solutions
While a cold storage facility should definitely be able to provide you with basic warehousing and shipping options, there are times you might require more. For instance, if a company offer cross-docking, which ensures the swiftest possible delivery of time-sensitive products, ensuring that foods arrive as fresh as possible. This is an example of “just in time” shipping, and it can save you a great deal of money and time, while building stronger relationships with your most valued customers.
Finally, security is a major concern. Make sure that the cold storage provider you choose takes the security of your products very seriously, and has a fully trained staff, as well as a state-of-the-art security solution in place.
Choosing the right cold storage provider doesn’t have to be a hassle. Look for companies that can meet your temperature control needs, that help you save time and money, and that work with you to ensure the highest quality products are delivered.