Across the region, dedicated cold storage facilities are being planned. With growing demand for refrigerated space to store a multitude of products, ranging from pharmaceuticals to perishables, it would seem to be a wonderful business opportunity for companies to consider.
But as investment in cold storage facilities are high, costing as much as 10 times the cost of an ambient warehouse, any prudent executive will want to find out, “How can the company get the best use of the cold store?”
Well, the short answer is to pack more in a given space by increasing the density of the warehouse and maximising the available height. Nothing does the job quite as well as a mobile racking system.
Basically, the system consists of banks of selective pallet racking mounted on a electrically driven mobile base, set on tracks embedded into concrete floor. By limiting the number of service aisles, as each bank can have four to eight moveable racks, the system can slash the require storage footprint by as much as half.
For companies planning new facilities, they can maximise the advantage of mobile pallet racking by building high, as much of the cost is in the first 2 metres. They can go over 12 metres high for those using reach trucks, and over 16 metres for very narrow aisles.
With current automation, picking is not compromised even with one aisle per block. At a touch of the control button, the aisle opens up giving order pickers 100% selectivity, much like any selective pallet racking system .Zone picking is also available with the standard aisle being separated into 2 or 3 order picking aisle With radio frequency controls on the material handling equipment, the racks can be moved immediately once the handling equipment leaves the aisle. As it takes less than a minute to reopen the next aisle, 20-25 pallet movements per hour is achievable.
Weighing the costs
What about the cost you may wonder? Needless to say, the mobile racking system will cost more than selective pallet racking, but this is offset by lower land and building cost as it occupies a much smaller footprint. In places where land is at a premium, this can be considerable.
Similarly there will be a reduction in operating costs, especially utility bills. Apart from savings from refrigeration, companies can cut down on lighting used. Aisle lighting can be fitted to the rack, which only lights up when the aisle is opened.
For the same number of pallet locations, it is estimated that a cold store with a mobile pallet racking system uses up to 50% less energy than that of a conventional cold store. At a time of stiff energy prices, which are not about to drop anytime soon, this can be substantial.
Modular and scalable, the mobile racking system is already the system of choice in cold stores in Europe. At a time of rising land and energy costs, it is a storage system companies in Asia may want to consider for their next cold store.