Best Practices for Chilled and Frozen Food Storage Warehouses

Written by Tan Yen Pheng, DLSM

by Tan Yen Pheng, DLSM

Best Practices for Chilled and Frozen Food Storage Warehouses

Written by Tan Yen Pheng, DLSM

by Tan Yen Pheng, DLSM

by Tan Yen Pheng, DLSM

In a social context, food safety is an important driver of quality assurance systems in chilled and frozen goods. The frozen food warehousing specialty has specific requirements for temperature-controlled environments. This requires cold chain service providers to provide transparency and confidence in their customer service. The right planning tools will ensure effective response to emergencies such as supplier bankruptcy or natural disasters. Proper planning will ensure companies can adjust pricing and promote strategies to shape demand, move additional products quickly in storage or inventory and increasing revenue growth. These are a few of the best practices for you to ‘check off’ and apply in your role of managing a Chilled and Frozen Food Storage Warehouses.

Creating a Contingency Plan

Any number of Frozen Food Storage warehouse management problems could arise, and you can’t always predict what’s going to come next. That doesn’t mean you have to wait for disaster to strike. On the contrary, you should be constantly creating contingency plans for any possible problem that could pop up at any point in the process. 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.

You might have the best monitoring technology and systems on the market, but unplanned rerouting or delay could still jeopardize your shipment. It’s crucial for shippers to work out contingency plans with their transportation partners to fully and clearly map out strategies in anticipation of an unexpected issue or delay. Everyone throughout the process should know the proper steps of the contingency plan so all your bases are covered.

Avoiding Delays by Training and Fostering Relationships

Minimizing the time a product takes to move through the system is a key way to avoid damage to your goods, but how can you avoid delays? One of the most crucial factors in creating an efficient process is ensuring everyone down the line understands frozen food warehouse management best practices.

Another tip is to shoot for improved loading and unloading. A clear practice to minimize the amount of time the product is kept on the dock and not in the controlled temperature of the storage area is essential. The loading dock’s temperature should always be checked against customer requirements prior to loading or unloading. It’s also helpful to pre-cool trailers before loading. Prior to loading a trailer, it should be checked to ensure that the refrigeration unit is running so that it’s pre-cooled to the appropriate temperature. Take the time to check product temperatures as well.

Cold chain handling and transportation come with several crucial responsibilities, which means you must thoroughly train employees and make them aware of your expectations. Strong partnerships must exist among all parties for the consumer to receive the most wholesome product with the longest possible shelf life and highest nutrition and value.

Managing Temperature Ranges via Divide-and-Conquer Methods

The fact that it costs more to cool air than heat it makes energy savings an important topic of discussion in frozen food warehouse management. But you can’t just choose one temperature and put every product in your warehouse within that range. 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. An example of time-tested systems in the cold storage industry is establishing temperature zones within a warehouse facility.

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 a flexible, low-risk option that can go up, come down and be moved from building to building as business needs change. A huge advantage of the Flexwall system is that Rapid Doors (as below picture) can be installed within them as they have a bespoke supportive frame, so larger vehicles still have access to all areas of the site. Strip doors can also be installed in doorways to contain the refrigerated air and can be made to many sizes. Refrigerated air is expensive, so once you make one change to the room or a wall, cost savings are realized.


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Automating the Processes

Automating the processes is the most helpful tip in our chilled and frozen food warehouse management guide. Most people realize how much the cost of labor, land and energy increase from year to year. This economic climb makes it a best practice for operators to look into automation to control their costs. This process allows for automated palletizing, maximum dense storage in each cube and controlled heat loss. Automate palletizing is another area of operations in frozen storage that is ripe for automation thanks to advancements in robotics. Not only will you realize cost savings quickly, but you’ll also continue to save money over the long term.

Automating material handling steps like freezer spacer removal and freezer spacer insertion are technological improvements every cold storage warehouse manager can capitalize on to reduce work time and improve the business’ bottom line. Automating the supply chain is a leading tip every experienced cold storage manager will pass on.

New robotic technology, energy supply, doors and barriers, seals, cables and lubricants are on the market that specifically functions well in harsh freezer environments, which allows palletizing to happen inside your freezers. Instead of protective heating shrouds, conveyors and ice build-up on each product, you can minimize the handling of all frozen goods by workers, increase your speed and enhance your overall productivity and efficiency — as long as you have the right equipment. The implementation of autonomous robots primarily drives value by reducing direct and indirect operating costs and increasing revenue potential.

Conclusion

To create a Contingency Plan and you cannot always predict what problem is going to come next. By developing contingency plans that clearly map out a strategy in the event of a delay. One of the most crucial factors in creating an efficient process is ensuring everyone down the line understands frozen food warehouse management best practices. You must thoroughly train employees and make them aware of your expectations. Temperature monitoring and control is and always will be a critical function of inventory management for frozen food storage warehouse providers. Automating your processes is the most helpful tip in our chilled and frozen food warehouse management guide.

Automating material handling steps like freezer spacer removal and freezer spacer insertion are technological improvements in every cold storage warehouse. The implementation of these solutions can help to reduce energy costs, improve regulatory compliance, reduce labor costs and guarantee the safety of their products.


References

Adam Palmer. (2016). “Challenges and Best Practices of Cold Storage Warehouse Management”. Retrieved from https://www.refrigeratedfrozenfood.com/articles/91923-challenges-best-practices-of-cold-storage-warehouse-management,accessed 12/03/2019.

Angela Carver. (2016). “Cold Storage Warehouse Best Practices: Forecasting & End-to-End Temperature Monitoring”. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/acoxdatex/cold-storage-warehouse-best-practices-forecasting-endtoend-temperature-monitoring, accessed 12/03/2019.

Helmi Salleh, ADLSM. (2019). “Autonomous Devices for Digital Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-devices-digital-warehousing/, accessed 12/03/2019.

Lorie King Rogers. (2012). “Best practices for managing a cold storage warehouse”. Retrieved from https://www.mmh.com/article/best_practices_for_managing_a_cold_storage_warehouse, accessed 12/03/2019.

Nuraini Ooi, DLSM. (2018). “New Technologies for Cold Chain Logistics”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/new-technologies-for-cold-chain-logistics/, accessed 12/03/2019.

Pasquale Russo. (2011). “Managing the Cold Storage Supply Chain”. Retrieved from https://www.foodlogistics.com/cold-chain/article/10365215/managing-the-cold-storage-supply-chain, accessed12/03/2019.

About the Author: Tan Yen Pheng has substantive years of experiences in the field of supply chain and logistics operations, specifically in the food industry. She is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Yen Pheng completed the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) course on March 2019 at SIPMM Institute.

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