The Top Trends in Refrigerated Warehouses & Cold Storage Technology

Explore 4 of the latest trends in cold storage technology including FSMA regulations, automation, fall protection, and energy efficiency initiatives.

The Top Trends in Refrigerated Warehouses & Cold Storage Technology

Exploring the latest innovations in Cold Storage Technology

The cold storage technology space has been expanding at an impressive rate every year since 2013. Their significance continues to grow substantially, where innovations in refrigerated warehouses and the cold storage industry play a pivotal role in supply chains focusing on temperature control. Within this ever-changing landscape, four notable trends are emerging, demanding the attention of facility managers as they consider safety and efficiency enhancements for their cold storage operations. Here are the 4 most important trends emerging in the cold storage industry.

The 4 Biggest Trends for Cold Storage and Refrigerated Warehouse Systems

1. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

Central to many of these transformative changes is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which has now been fully implemented. FSMA has triggered a fundamental restructuring of responsibilities within the supply chain and has ushered in more stringent practices in digital record-keeping.

Under the provisions of FSMA, shippers bear a multitude of responsibilities. These include:

  • specifying all sanitary requirements to carriers
  • conducting thorough inspections of carrier trailers
  • validating temperature compliance
  • maintaining meticulous logs for each step of the process

Carriers, too, share this burden, as they are now mandated to document the previous three cargos transported in their trailers, as well as provide records of cleanings and maintenance.

2. The Rise of Automation in Refrigerated Warehouse Systems

Cold storage warehouses are increasingly adopting automation to improve throughput, efficiency, and safety. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), automated storage/retrieval systems (AS/RS), and other robotic technologies can handle the repetitive and physically demanding tasks of moving goods in and out of cold storage facilities, freeing up human workers for more value-added activities.

For example, AGVs can be used to transport pallets of goods between different areas of a warehouse, while AS/RS systems can automatically retrieve and store goods from high-rise racks. These technologies can help to improve warehouse operations in a number of ways, including:

  • Increased throughput: Automated systems can move goods more quickly and efficiently than human workers, which can help to meet the demands of online retailers and other businesses that need to process orders quickly.
  • Reduced labor costs: Automation can help to reduce the need for manual labor, which can save businesses money on labor costs.
  • Improved safety: Automated systems can help to create a safer working environment for warehouse workers, as they are not exposed to the same risks of injury as manual handling.
  • Loading dock equipment: In addition to stationary barrier safety systems, smart controls and light communication systems like Rite-Hite’s Rite-Vu Hazard Recognition System can be used to prevent accidents at loading docks by alerting workers to the presence of vehicles and other hazards.

Overall, the rise of automation in chilled warehouses is a positive trend that is helping to improve efficiency, safety, and profitability. As the demand for improved cold storage technology continues, we can expect to see even more automation in these facilities in the years to come.

3. Taller Warehouses with Temperature Control Need Fall Protection

To save costs and meet delivery demands, many cold storage facilities are being built in urban areas. This trend requires companies to build taller warehouses, which increases the risk of falls. Fall protection equipment, such as Rite-Hite's Gatekeeper®, is essential to protect workers in these high-rise facilities.

Dual reciprocating barriers, like the Gatekeeper, create a controlled access area so the inner and outer gates cannot be opened at the same time. This helps prevent workers from accidentally falling. Modified versions of these barriers, such as Rite-Hite's RacKeeper®, are used in multi-level pick modules. By using fall protection equipment, businesses can create a safer working environment for their employees and avoid costly accidents.

4. Energy Efficiency Initiatives in the Cold Storage Supply Chain

Energy efficiency and cold chain integrity are essential components to consider for the cold storage industry. One key way to achieve both is through the use of a drive-thru dock design. Using a vertical storing leveler, a drive-thru dock design allows trailers to back all the way into the loading dock before the doors are opened. This prevents the cold air from escaping and the warm air from entering, which can significantly reduce energy costs. Additionally, the drive-thru design helps to protect cargo from tampering and contamination.

Another way to improve energy efficiency in cold storage facilities is to use high-speed doors like the Rite-Hite FasTrax® High Performance Door. Cooler and freezer doors also contribute to energy efficiency and using high-speed doors minimizes the amount of time the doors are open, which helps reduce air exchange. Additionally, high-speed doors are designed to withstand the impact of forklifts, which can help prevent damage to the doors.

You can continue to improve energy efficiency with the use of cold storage environment separation. Maintaining consistent temperatures in different areas of a building can be challenging, especially for areas with large temperature differences. Traditional methods of doing this, such as using heavy, slow-moving doors, can be slow, cumbersome, and create safety hazards.

Keeping Pace with Market Demands

Cold storage facility managers who understand the fundamental shifts in cold storage and refrigerated warehouse operations, and the new equipment solutions to the problems they present can ensure their facilities keep up with the ever-increasing demands the market places on them.

By staying up-to-date on the best practices in cold storage technology, new designs, and the latest trends in the industry, cold storage facility managers can make informed decisions that will help their facilities operate efficiently and effectively.

To learn more about cold storage best practices, new design and technology, and the latest trends in the industry, I encourage you to download the “Essential Guide to Cold Storage.” This guide provides comprehensive information on all aspects of cold storage, from warehouse design and construction to equipment selection and operation. It is a valuable resource for any cold storage facility manager who wants to stay ahead of the curve.

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