How to Choose the Right Cold Storage Rack
Getting cold storage right is a bit more challenging than you might think. An enormous number of factors can keep your facility cool and safe or prone to failures and product deterioration. One key area you’ll need to consider is your choice of storage equipment.
Let’s explore cold storage racking, why it matters and how you can find the right equipment for your facility.
Why Cold Storage Matters
Cold storage is an incredibly important piece of warehouse operations. In certain industries, the need to keep inventory cooled is paramount to staying safe and keeping products in optimal condition:
- Food storage
- Medical storage
- Chemical storage
If you need to store items in a certain temperature range, you need to maintain that temperature at every step of the way from manufacturing to consumer. One break in this chain could lead to disastrous effects. Food can spoil, chemicals can lose their potency and certain drugs can lose their effectiveness.
All it takes is a little shift in temperature. That’s why cold storage is so important. We call this entire process the cold chain. Any break in the chain is a cause for concern. If cold storage is a part of your facility, finding the right equipment can help you keep up with industry standards for storage and safety.
How to Find the Right Cold Storage Equipment
It’s not enough to understand the importance of the cold chain. You also need to optimize your storage space for efficiency and safety.
In most situations, you’ll need to keep inventory properly managed and accessible to workers. You’ll also want to develop systems that limit the amount of time workers spend inside cold storage areas. This ends up being a bit more of a complicated task than traditional warehouse operations.
To get the most out of your space, consider sourcing high-quality storage equipment. But how do you know what equipment is right for this situation? Not only do racks need to handle heavy loads, but they need to stay durable in freezing temperatures. Let’s explore some common considerations when choosing cold storage equipment:
Choose the Right Racking Material
When it comes to material, steel is usually the right choice for the job. But most material handling equipment like pallet racking will come in a few different varieties of steel — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. In most cases, you’ll see two main steel types:
- Roll-formed steel
- Structural steel
While roll-formed steel can often be cheaper than structural steel products, it can’t quite hold up to the rigors and extremes of cold storage environments. Some cold storage spaces can hit temperatures below zero. At this temperature, roll-formed steel becomes brittle and more susceptible to damage. Luckily, structural steel pallet racking is readily available and the perfect choice.
Temperature control and airflow go hand and hand. You can’t really have one without the other. To efficiently run your cold storage area, you should carefully consider how air flows through the space. If cramped spaces stop cold air from flowing between stored inventory, it can lead to temperature imbalances. This could, in turn, lead to spoilage or the deterioration of products.
To maximize your cold storage space, you need to optimize airflow. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use wire decking whenever possible.
- Strategically place dividers to keep inventory spaced out.
- Keep space between racking or shelving for airflow.
Optimizing airflow means more than keeping inventory safe. It also means less stress on your cooling system. Less stress means spending less on energy costs and repairs.
Pick the Right System for Your Stored Goods
You’ll find that many different factors affect your cold storage space:
- Size of your space
- Types of goods
- Worker interaction
- Product seasonality
- Goods flow system
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The right equipment for one company may not be the right choice for another. For instance, if your cold storage area has many high-demand products, workers will constantly be in and out to pick and restock products. All this activity can affect cooling efficiency. It follows that a system designed to limit worker interaction through warehouse automation can help with cold storage efficiency.
Moreover, many companies are working with perishable products. In this instance, first-in-first-out (FIFO) systems can help you stay on top of expiring products. Pallet flow racking would be a better option than selective racking systems in this situation.
What Are Your Options for Cold Storage Equipment?
Cold storage equipment needs to withstand extreme temperatures while still adding the storage efficiency your facility needs. Several options can help you make the most out of your warehouse space, but finding the right equipment will depend on your specific needs and storage requirements.
If you’re dealing with palletized products, pallet racking is a great choice. Selective racking systems are simple and durable. Be sure to source structural steel pallet racking, though.
Other systems can also play a role in your cold storage layout. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of a gravity system like pallet flow racking, but other systems can help in other situations. For example, if forklifts and other equipment need access to racking systems, drive-in racking can keep operations streamlined.
Also, consider other equipment choices. Forklifts are an essential part of any warehouse, but keep in mind that some cold temperature environments require specialized equipment to handle these extremes. Other helpful and convenient equipment choices include conveyors to efficiently move products or shelving systems to manage smaller-sized products.