Most U.S. consumers are familiar with the commercial refrigerators they see in the grocery stores storing common food items or in pharmacies where they pick up their specialized prescription medications. What they likely do not realize is that there is a complex infrastructure (large-sized coolers or full refrigerated building structures) sending inventory to those on-site refrigerators. The main challenge is that the capacity of available refrigerated storage space is rapidly declining in these off-site central storage locations for refrigerated and frozen items.
On the food/produce side, and with consumers rapidly shifting to ready-prepared meals and food delivery, there is an increased demand for capacity expansion of available space to store not only raw materials needed to prepare meals but also finished products as well as ice gels/packaging material.
As for the pharmaceutical side, there has been an ongoing trend indicating more and more new products that require some type of refrigerated (cold chain) storage.
So how should the supplier/distributor of these refrigerated products approach this storage space challenge? Building and fitting-out a new/existing ambient warehouse expansion can be a straight-forward process…or not! (Well, more on that another time). Getting the refrigerated space right is likely not an easy process and requires additional planning and considerations.
Given that refrigerated space is likely going to be one of the most expensive storage mediums within the warehouse, special considerations must be taken to ensure optimal utilization without any wasted space. Some of the main questions that should be considered:
- How big of a space is required to support current business operations and future growth?
- Can vertical space be utilized, and if so, what is the best approach for that?
- What type of refrigeration equipment should be used?
- How is fulfillment being performed in the space?
- Type of product stored, turns, and overall SKU counts determine storage medium
- Consideration for equipment redundancy and fire monitoring/protection
- Regulatory requirements and monitoring
The questions above, as well as others, are likely to overwhelm most end customers, so they usually relent and return to their old approach of, “we have always done things this way.” The result likely leads to continuous build/expand processes that not only waste space but also add more energy consumption, labor cost, and new preventative maintenance expenses.
Our SRSI approach is not to build cold chain storage solutions of yesterday. We work with our customers to optimize their existing space, use new technologies/storage mediums, and help build and expand their cold chain storage to serve them reliably in the years to come. Find out how the SRSI team can help your company by visiting us at www.goSRSI.com or contacting us via email at info@goSRSI.com
Jovan Bjelobrk, SRSI Director – Business Solutions