How can you boost your cold store cost efficiency and introduce flexibility at the same time?  Better cold store design and more specifically better storage technology can result in considerably lower labour costs and energy bills.
A typical cold store utilises selective pallet racking technology with aisles widths of up to four metres. With any freezer warehouse storage system having aisles for lift-trucks to manoeuvre and turn-around, a lot of what you are freezing is the air.
With the cost of energy, property and labour constantly increasing, freezer warehouse owners should look at new technologies such as high-rise Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems.
Diplom-Is is the largest manufacturer of ice cream in Norway.  Previously the company distributed its pallets of finished goods to a number of warehouses on the west coast of Norway before the items were sold.  This proved to be both time and effort intensive.  As ice cream sales are seasonal and dependent heavily on the weather and time of year, flexibility is of the essence in this market.
Diplom-Is wanted to consolidate its depots to one central distribution centre and they called in the expertise of SSI Schaefer.  From this one centre they wanted to ship frozen and non-frozen goods significantly faster and more cost effectively to their customers.
SSI Schaefer installed a semi-automated picking and packing system which included a smart combination of conveying and pick by voice technologies.  This significantly increased the picking speed and at the same time reduced the error rates.
A major highlight of the project was that it was carried out during regular operations at temperatures as low as -28 Celsius.  Leveraging state of the art conveying technology, items are now fed through the sorting process on multiple levels and transported to the right dispatch tracks.  Goods are then manually   picked from the pallets to the boxes using voice commands.  Diplom-Is can now fulfil all orders cost effectively and on time without the need to hire additional staff.
Another option to consider is Mobile Pallet Racking, which addresses building and warehouse heights under 15m. Mobile Racking is a pragmatic, smart, state-of the-art solution for freezer warehousing. It uses conventional selective pallet racks mounted on carriages and moving on running rails and guide rails embedded directly into concrete floor. Since energy expenses in a freezer warehouse are second only to labour costs, it makes sense to double the amount of pallet locations inside the building or reduce the initial building size. Doubling the amount of pallet positions can reduce the total cost per pallet position by as much as 40% in new construction projects, and can reduce utility bills by as much as 50%.
What if you don’t need more pallet storage locations? High-density storage solutions such as Mobile Racking result in a much smaller building footprint by up to 45%. This leads to a significant reduction in energy loss (and utility bills) due to the correspondingly-smaller roof structure reducing air escape. The other cost savings of a smaller, more efficient Mobile Racking warehouse include a 35% lower overall investment in construction costs and a reduction of up to 49% in utility costs.
By Bob Jane, sales manager dynamic systems at SSI Schaefer