Frozen Food and Cold Storage Warehousing: Challenges of the Industry

February 20, 2019

The frozen food warehousing specialty has specific requirements for temperature-controlled environments, and managers of facilities who handle these niche markets have their own industry challenges. Cold storage warehouse managers have an enormous burden in taking care of daily business, while simultaneously staying on the hunt for ways to improve how they handle challenges ranging from strict regulations for food handling to storage and temperature rules. Such challenges will include maintaining the perfect temperature for proper food storage, while keeping staff and equipment warm enough to perform at peak efficiency. Your reputation, profits and ultimate success or failure depend on recognition and successful management of these and many other common challenges.

 

The largest segment of frozen foods is in the meat, cheese, poultry, seafood and dairy worlds that make up the mainstay of perishable food items. Facility managers who handle these time- and temperature-sensitive products must be on top of their game to prevent small material handling mistakes that could turn into catastrophic financial losses. In the cold storage world, little things really matter.

 

Let’s look at some of the most common challenges the industry faces so we can find solutions and best practices to combat frozen food and cold storage warehouse management issues.

 

1. Time Management and Compliance

Efficiency and product control are high priorities for cold storage facility managers. They must use time-tested processes as well as implement new industrial equipment that makes their business run more smoothly and, ultimately, more profitably. These professional managers must constantly look for systems and solutions that reduce waste, eliminate unnecessary cost and improve worker safety. The fundamental goal is to prevent losing food products and profit.

 

You’ll also face strict regulations from OSHA and industry guidance from the FDA regarding your practices and products if you’re a cold storage warehouse manager, which means staying ahead even to remain compliant.

 

2. Protecting Food Products

If you’re in the frozen food industry, you know different products require unique temperatures to keep from spoiling. You’ll need to regulate and maintain both humidity and temperature in your warehouse to extend the life of your products as much as possible. It can be challenging and risky, and traditional temperature monitoring systems are 100 percent dependent on operator experience. Someone must be onsite to manage the whole system is managed and make proper adjustments if temperature or humidity fluctuate.

 

3. Upkeep of the Food’s Life Cycle

Several issues can occur without the proper maintenance of a product’s life cycle. The upkeep process is about the quality and safety of the foods in your warehouse, which means you must keep a close watch and tight management over their conditions from the point of manufacture all the way through the supply chain to the point when they reach consumer hands. Without this level of oversight shipments of food products could undergo discoloration, textual degradation, microbial growth or bruising.

 

4. Requirements for Accurate Product Tracing

At all times, you need to have accurate location information about the products that move through your warehouse, so you can determine affected products in situations with sudden or unexpected temperature changes. Without exact traceability, it would be impossible to locate these products. Fresh produce and similar perishable products require even more management and control over external factors like humidity and carbon dioxide.

 

It’s not easy, but to overcome this challenge and achieve proper traceability for all your products and their various requirements, always practice accurate and precise documentation.

 

5. Labeling of Racks and Individual Products

Bar code labels are crucial because they create the link between each physical product in your inventory and your computer systems that monitor receiving, storage, retrieval and shipments. A single forgotten or lost label could lead to an unsafe or entirely ruined shipment.

 

Freeze-grade labels appropriate for each product and situation are a critical factor in successful cold storage warehouse management, as they can develop a strong, permanent bond on common rack services. Your personnel can apply them in environments as low as negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can rely on them to stay on no matter what your daily operations entail.

 

6. Courier Shipments and Fulfillment

Arguably, the most crucial part of cold chain process management is minimizing the amount of time it takes to push a product from the beginning to the end of the system. Staying efficient the entire time is critical. Without a precise level of effectiveness, the vulnerabilities we discussed earlier could begin negatively affecting the products. Delays in moving products from one facility to the next can give these issues more of a chance to manifest and force you to lose time and profits.

 

Each average shipment, inbound from the supplier to the distribution center as well as outbound to customers, should consist of amounts of food products that are less than truckloads, which can be difficult to maintain. Next, you need to load the products correctly each time so you don’t risk cross-contamination with raw products or crushed or damaged food that ended up under heavier items. During shipments, perishable foods like seafood, ready-to-eat products, and pre-cut produce can turn unsafe if they are kept at the wrong temperatures.

This blog was originally posted on Cherry's Industrial Equipment blog. Click here to find the original blog.

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