Issues to consider when building a new cold storage facility
Many have been in the cold storage game for many decades, but there are also a few new players who don’s necessarily know which issues to consider when building a new cold storage facility.
While not an inclusive list here are some points that need discussion.
- What are the restrictions? Building lines, building height, storm water or electrical power easements.
- Is the site of sufficient size for a cold store double the size of the current plan with sufficient space for truck turning and ancillary services like an office?
- Is the site reasonably level? Sloping sites can be expensive to excavate or fill.
- What are the ground conditions? Will they evenly support the loaded weight of the cold store?
The cold store itself.
- Design the chamber structure around the racking system, to make best use of the available space.
- Go higher within reason, remembering that air is relatively cheap.
- Try to minimize the number of access doors. They are a significant energy user.
- Spend time planning the final wearing floor construction including any joints and underfloor heating. Remember, the floor also serves as a foundation for the racking system.
- Include flexibility in your rack design. You don’t always know what product you will be storing next. With discussion the store capacity can sometimes be increased by another pallet layer….
Don’t forget the local government and fire approvals that are required, these can be considerably more difficult to obtain that may be first thought.
The refrigeration system.
Carefully investigate the pros and cons of ammonia as opposed to Freon refrigeration systems.
Consider long term energy saving measures like type and thickness of insulated panels, designing the roof for PV panels and spend time designing the airlock and cold store entrance to eliminate the ingress of warm moist air.
Cold store operations including case picking.
Pick a Warehouse Management system that is real time and supports “voice” technology.
Design the store for maximum volume throughput, by making aisles a little wider and orientating the racks to encourage “dual cycling”.
Case picking can be profitable if it is done efficiently. Case pick inside the freezer, consider structural mezzanines and equip the case pickers with high quality freezer wear and voice technology.
Remember the freezer will operate continuously for the next 35 years.
Additional capital wisely spent on energy conservation during the construction phase will pay itself off multiple times in the life of the store. There are Engineers and other experts who deal with these cold store issues every day, so make sure you include them in your professional team and continuously ask them, “Is there anything else we may have overlooked?”