The two largest costs in a cold storage or deep freeze warehouse environment are labour and energy. As a global leader in automated warehousing and logistics technologies and systems, Swisslog has developed resources to assist companies planning on utilising automation to achieve efficiency benefits and cost savings in both areas.
Automation, when tightly integrated with building design and supported by advanced management practices, can resolve labour issues, enhance productivity, and contribute to improved energy efficiency.
There are five key considerations for best practice in cold storage and deep freeze environments:
1. Start with the automation system
Because it will be so integral to the overall strategy, selecting the system before the building can have numerous advantages.
2. Think taller
Larger roof or floor spaces can heat up and require more energy to keep cool. The key to an efficient warehouse is a taller warehouse that doesn’t compromise storage capacity.
3. Don’t forget carton handling
Downstream operations such as carton handling also lend themselves to automation just as easily as storage and retrieval systems. Like the links in a chain, all segments can strengthen or weaken a process.
4. Cold-proof your technology
Automation systems require some special adaptations to perform reliably in low-temperature environments. These include cold-resistant lubrication, quick disconnect couplings, and other features that allow technicians working on the system to get in and out quickly. Unlike ad-hoc technologies, easy access and maintenance is built into automated systems, delivering another saving.
5. Manage energy demand
The key here is to adopt advanced control algorithms and sensors that enable smart energy management. This intelligent software will, for example, ensure cold environments are overcooled during periods of low demand, such as overnight, creating a thermal buffer that minimises cooling requirements during peak periods. So, money saving is built into the system.
THE OPTIMUM SOLUTION
The demand for cold storage warehousing is growing, but available labour isn’t. Automation represents the optimum solution, and the best approach to automation is one that integrates building design, automation and operating practices in ways that optimise throughput, labour and energy management.
This collaborative approach ensures the building designer can fully leverage the space and energy-saving capabilities of the automation system, while significantly reducing exposure to cold environments by warehouse staff. When supported by advanced energy management strategies that minimise the power draw during peak periods, these facilities can achieve new levels of energy and labour efficiency.
Swisslog recently hosted a webinar, ‘Thinking Beyond the Walls – Resilient Logistics for Cold & Frozen Food’. To watch a recording, or for any further information, please scan the QR code, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Arijit Biswas is a senior sales consultant for the food and beverage sector for Swisslog Australia