The demand for cold storage warehousing has been booming in recent years due to COVID-19. Given the supply chain disruptions, food companies are stocking up extra inventory and need storage to preserve their ingredients. Additionally, the pandemic changed the way people shop for food. Nowadays, many are looking for convenient options without compromising health and freshness.
So if you have a food business, you’ll benefit from using a cold storage warehouse to store your ingredients. But to do this, you’ll also need a well-equipped facility and reliable team to oversee warehouse operations—and this is where the challenge lies. Read more below to learn about the best practices to help you manage a cold storage warehouse properly.
A cold storage warehouse is a temperature-controlled facility designed to store sensitive goods to preserve their quality and prevent them from spoiling quickly. This is most commonly used for perishable food ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and dairy. But aside from this, other products you can store in cold warehouses include chemicals, medicine, pharmaceutical goods, plants, and artworks.
Managing a cold storage warehouse is challenging since you need to maintain low temperatures. However, the cold environment can pose health risks for workers or cause damage to your equipment. So to prevent these problems, here are some best practices to help you run your facility.
Working in a freezer cold storage warehouse isn’t the safest or most comfortable. Thus, providing employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) like insulated coats, pants, gloves, and other equipment needed to stay warm is crucial.
Doing this minimizes health risks and also increases operational efficiency. Employees who feel cold tend to remain in warm zones or leave the door open for longer, so providing them with proper gear prevents such occurrences.
One of the most important rules in a cold food storage warehouse is to control the temperature and keep it at the set range for each unit. This can be challenging since different food products have unique temperature requirements. For example, if you have refrigerated products, you should store them at or below 40°F. And if you’re storing frozen products, the temperature should be at or below 0°F.
While it sounds simple to monitor the temperature inside the cold storage units, it’s surprisingly easy to forget this step. As people move around the warehouse or transport goods, heat can quickly move into the low-temperature areas. So to prevent this from happening, you can install an insulated curtain wall system to divide each temperature zone.
Don’t forget to keep an updated and accurate record of what products are stored in your warehouse. Having this allows you to keep track of your inventory for easy management. Though freezing ingredients will help prolong their shelf life, it’s still best to apply the first in, first out (FIFO) principle to maintain freshness. This means the first ingredients that go into storage will be the first that go out for use in your factory or kitchen.
You’ll need a range of equipment to operate your warehouse—computers, sensors, pallet jacks, freezers, and others. While these are relatively easy to find, it’s important to understand the unique conditions in a cold warehouse. Not all devices can withstand constant exposure to low temperatures, so you must find suitable equipment that won’t damage easily.
Also, consider how your employees’ PPE may affect their work experience. For example, if your computers have touchscreens, it might be hard to use them with heavy-duty insulated gloves. Thus, you’ll need to get touchscreens with a higher sensitivity to ensure they respond smoothly to a gloved hand.
Cold storage warehouses are notorious for using lots of energy since refrigerators and freezers must run 24/7. Given this setup, you’ll need to find ways to make your facility more energy-efficient to avoid high monthly bills. For example, installing LED lighting instead of fluorescent lighting helps you lower your energy consumption significantly.
Similarly, you can use smart energy management through advanced algorithms or sensors. These will control energy settings based on the surroundings to minimize cooling requirements while keeping the temperature at optimum levels.
It’s understandably overwhelming to manage a cold storage warehouse without the proper resources and staff. So if you don’t have a facility yet, the good news is you don’t necessarily need to build one from scratch.
Rather than investing in a warehouse and hiring new people to operate it, you can instead outsource this work to a logistics partner. Cold storage and warehousing services come with many benefits, including the following:
Renting storage units will be much cheaper than building a warehouse since cold storage companies have already made the necessary investments. Likewise, this option frees up your time and allows you to focus on growing your business.
As a food business owner, your expertise lies in food—not logistics. As such, hiring a reliable partner for cold storage warehousing helps you benefit from their team’s knowledge and experience. They know the right conditions to store food items in, allowing you to preserve your ingredients safely and correctly.
Sunleaf Foods offers a unique 3-pronged cold chain program to help you streamline your food supply chain. Beyond storing your items in our cold storage warehouse, we also source ingredients and ship them to your desired location. This way, you can take advantage of the benefits of frozen ingredients without the stress or hassle of storing them.
We work with clients from every stage of the food value chain, from manufacturers to processors to restaurant owners. Give us a call at 949-523-2832 to learn more about our program.