Visit to Montagues New Cold Store at Truganina outside Melbourne, Australia
Montague Cold Storage has been in business for over sixty years. Family owned, Montague’s started life as a supplier of fruit and flowers before becoming one of the largest cold store operators in the states of Victoria and Tasmania with over 140,000 pallet spaces available.
Phase 1 of Montague’s new Truganina store was commissioned at the end of 2014 and has a capacity of 30,000 pallet spaces. I was delighted to be shown around the facility by the Facilities Director, Glenn Edwards.
The loading docks at Truganina have been designed for maximum efficiency and in line with Health and Safety legislation. After entering the site through a special entrance, the trucks wait at a marshaling point until directed to a particular loading bay. Backing up to the loading bay is assisted by ground guides which make sure that the rear of the truck is correctly placed. Then the trailer’s rear protection bar is locked in position. Until the lock is in place, the internal loading bay door will not open nor can the dock leveler be activated. The lock prevents the truck from moving away from the loading dock with a forklift inside. The driver then enters vestibule of the loading dock through the door and opens the truck doors. The air seals activate to prevent the ingress of warm moist air, the dock leveler is put into position and the internal door opens.
While waiting for the truck to be loaded/offloaded, the driver has access to bathroom facilities and a canteen. He is observed by the cold store staff as they must sign off that he is fit to drive the truck to its next destination. As his load is processed, the driver stands on an observation platform in the loading dock to check the pallets. When the doors are sealed and the paperwork completed, the lock is released and the truck leaves via a gate that only opens when the cold store staff have checked that everything is in order.
The freezer rooms are constructed from PIR panels. The local fire authority required that the freezer ceilings be fitted with sprinklers. Had the cold store been placed on the other side of the road, it would have fallen under another fire authority making sprinklers unnecessary. Hitting a sprinkler head will not in itself activate the system. Excessive heat must also be picked up by sensors.
The freezer rooms are equipped with double deep racking. Case picking is an important aspect of the business and takes place inside the freezer. Product is supplied to the pick faces via roller beds. Stackers are not allowed in lanes where case picking takes place. Racked picking bays have been made wider than normal to allow for better access to the cases. Space has been created underneath the roller beds to allow room for the picker’s feet.
The racking is of high quality and well protected. The upper levels have guides to assist with placing the pallets.
MATERIALS HANDLING EQUIPMENT
Stackers with extendable forks are used to place and retrieve pallets in the double deep racking. Their front wheels must be able to go under the bottom level of pallets. Cases are picked via man on pallet movers. Stand on forklifts are used in the trucks. The stackers have no heated cabs and the fork lifts/pallet movers are all of the stand-up variety. High quality freezer clothing is worn by all cold store employees.
The battery bay is well thought out including intelligent chargers which include automatic maintenance of battery water levels. The pallet movers have inbuilt printers and the scanners are attached to the machine with extendable restraints. Every machine has a driver control device, which limits who can drive what, and also sends information regarding impacts to the responsible manager.
COLDSTORE CONSTRUCTION FEATURES
Some cold store construction features are attached for interest.
Despite the repeal of the Australian carbon tax, direct electricity and supply charges are a cold store’s highest individual cost. Apart from 250mm thick PIR panels, LED lighting with movement sensor activation and strict freezer door control, the compressors, condenser and penthouse evaporator fans have all been fitted with variable speed drives. A prominent member of the RWTA’s (Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association) energy efficiency committee, Glenn has strenuously promoted the use of energy saving technology. Although still in a start-up phase, energy usage is 50% less when compared to other cold stores in the Montague Group. Average energy usage is a fantastic 1.3KWhrs per M3 per month. The Powerstar Voltage Optimiser has not yet been commissioned.