Frabelle Cold Storage: Moving up with mobile racking

With more food products and other perishable goods entering the country, the importance of cold storage providers has never been greater. With that comes the need for these providers to expand their facilities, and improve existing ones, to further serve their customers’ needs. Despite the increased costs that expansion entails, we are still seeing new facilities go up around the country, and equipment upgrades, like added racking, in existing ones.

Frabelle Cold Storage Corporation (FCSC), one of the country’s leading cold storage providers, has gone a step further: they have installed a state-of-the-art mobile racking system in their newly-expanded facility in Caloocan City. Unlike ordinary racking systems, where many aisles are needed in order to access stored goods resulting to loss of space and waste of electricity, mobile racking allows one aisle at a time to be opened, leading to more space devoted to storing palletized goods. A dedicated electric-powered mobile racking system allows access to racks which contain the goods that need to be picked.

We talked to FCSC’s General Manager, Engr. Willy Salazar, about this expansion project and what is next for his company.

Mobile Racking System ESX

Why did Frabelle decide to expand its facilities?

Given the continuous growth of different food industries, from meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables, to processed foods, and as well as the requirements of logistics providers, our recent expansion is not only in response to market demand but also to address the changing role of refrigerated warehousing. We did it to broaden our capacity, efficiency and flexibility — to be the solutions to our clients’ needs.

How much capacity was added in this expansion?

FCSC had a capacity of 1,500 MT in 1996. It is made of block stacking using a pallet tower. We added 500 MT in 2008 and another 3,000 MT in 2009. Later we installed drive in racks in these facilities and gave us a combined storage capacity of 5,000 MT.  The new facility that we are building now will add another 6,000 MT.

Why did you decide to use mobile racking in your new facility?

The main factor we considered before going into mobile racking is the availability of land. We foresee another expansion in the near future; we’re targeting to build 12,000 MT or more in one roof. When we were doing the planning and study we realized that only with a mobile racking system we can achieve the target MT in the land area available.

What advantages did you see in going mobile rather than the traditional racking?

Since mobile racking is new in the Philippines — in fact, none was built after the first cold storage warehouse with mobile racking system was constructed more than ten years ago — I had apprehensions before: too costly, expertise in construction and complexity in operation. However, as we went on with our studies, we realized the following:

  • Considering the cost of land and the bigger space required in the usual stacking system, the mobile racking appears lower in cost.

  • On construction, thorough technical studies with our project partners (building contractors, rack supplier), surveys and analyses came out of suited structural design.

  • We conducted a time sampling on the actual operation of the usual stacking system, as well as a simulation of the mobile racking system, and we saw an advantage in the latter.

Thus, we expect advantages on construction cost per pallet, an increase in efficiency with 100% accessibility of the products, flexibility, and faster stock handling.

What are Frabelle’s plans for the future moving forward?

FCSC plans to have the biggest cold storage facility in one roof; to have better efficiency through use of better systems that will improve our efficiencies and capacities, and to build satellite cold storage facilities in various regions.

With increased demand and more intricate requirements, the challenges the cold storage industry is facing may seem daunting. With cold storage assuming a more important position in the supply chain, there is a greater need for flexibility to adapt to ever-changing needs, while at the same time keeping costs down for everyone involved. Thankfully, technology nowadays makes this need easier to fulfill than ever before.