Maximising your facility chill factor

10 January 2015

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Maximising your facility chill factor

  • Industry Type: Industrial Manufacturing, Food Processing, Cold Storage
  • Author: Andew Newby
  • Service Area: Advice
  • Date: 21 Jul 2011

KEEPING EVERYTHING ON ICE

A cubic metre of space in a cold storage facility is more expensive in building and operational terms, compared with a cubic metre of space in a standard warehouse.  There is often pressure to maximise the cubic volume in order to reduce costs and increase long term efficiencies. 

Whether you are reviewing your existing facility or considering a new facility, there are a number of  important factors to consider:

  • How you store
  • What you store
  • Matching materials handling equipment with storage systems
  • Layout
  • Safety

How you store
To maximise space, ensure that your current storage method, or one being considered, provides dense storage appropriate to your operation.  Drive-in racking provides higher density storage than selective racking, which provides 100% utilisation of every pallet space.  Both these methods have advantages but do not suit every application or facility.   

Recent innovations are combining dense storage systems, such as drive-in pallet racking for space utilisation, with a mechanism to access products and improve productivity.  The pallet runner system uses self propelled carts on rails to move pallets within the storage system.  The numbers of aisles are reduced; therefore more floor space can be dedicated to product storage.

What you store
Your products, systems and processes may have changed over time, affecting your storage requirements.  In the past, your storage profile may have included more full-pallet quantities, whereas now you have more part-pallet quantities.  In select positions, a change to shelving or carton live storage may be more appropriate. A mezzanine floor with conveyors may be an option if there is a high volume of carton picking.  This allows better use of height in your storage system.
 
Matching materials handling equipment with storage systems
If you are planning a new cold store, increasing the height of storage may be an efficient option — utilising forklifts, turret trucks or stacker cranes.  These are specialised systems requiring careful consideration and expert advice.

Layout
When designing a new facility layout, there are a number of considerations to utilise space, ensuring maximum production efficiencies:

  • When determining aisle widths, the equipment and the put-away and retrieval productivity are important factors to consider
  • Designing your space with fewer long aisles will be more efficient than numerous shorter aisles
  • Plan the location of any internal columns required, to ensure lost floor space or pallet numbers are minimised

Safety
In your quest for space utilisation and improving efficiencies, the safety of people within the cold store is paramount.  If your operation uses a conventional rack layout, the separation of forklifts and order pickers should be considered to comply with modern, stringent safety standards. Many new facilities are providing dedicated aisles for forklifts to keep machine separated from people, increasing safety, but reducing floor space efficiency and therefore cubic volume. 

Increasing automation reduces the number of people working in the forklift areas, improving safety, productivity and storage density.

CONCLUSION

When customising, updating or replacing any facet of your operation, it is important to study what you have, research potential solutions and plan thoroughly during the design phase to highlight the potential pros and cons of the project.  Before making dramatic changes to your operations, consider all the factors and seek expert advice.

About the author
Andrew Newby is the Business Development Director at Wiley and can be contacted on 1300 385 988 or email connect@wiley.com.au.

Further Information
Food and beverage industry embraces technology.
http://www.mmh.com/article/food_and_beverage_industry_embraces_technology

Food Safety & Quality: AGV's Improve Inventory Accuracy.
http://www.ifsqn.com/articles_detail.php?newsdesk_id=1045&osCsid=9d6b84afd9ca328151bfd662add83926&t=Food+Safety+&+Quality:+AGV's+Improve+Inventory+Accuracy

This article was published in Food & Drink Business Magazine.

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