Cold Chain

Cold Chain Heats Up with Automation

Today’s cold chain is more critical than ever. Demand for frozen foods is growing as product options expand. Cold storage is at a premium for vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. Online grocery ordering is mainstream because of wider e-commerce adoption. What does this mean for cold storage operators? The time is now to invest in cold chain automation.

Cold Storage and Automation

The cold chain is a unique supply chain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates most cold chain products. Temperature-sensitive products (e.g., meat, seafood, frozen foods, vaccines, etc.) must remain within their regulated temperature range throughout the end-to-end cold chain. Any temperature deviation outside the acceptable range breaks the cold chain and poses health and safety risks. With several phases from production to storage to distribution to final customer delivery, maintaining cold chain integrity throughout is essential.

In a cold storage warehouse where temperature zones register 5 degrees C to -30 degrees C, cold chain automation provides immediate advantages.

  • Operational efficiencies—Automation such as automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) can replace labor while maximizing vertical space for increased throughput.

  • Lower operating costs—Remove human errors with ASRS to reduce energy costs and accurately monitor and record temperatures.

  • Increased safety—Rely on automation, not human labor to work in harsh, freezing environments and avoid potential accidents and damage to racking systems.

An ASRS solution from SSI Schaefer delivers on these advantages for cold storage operators.

ASRS Solutions to Cold Storage Challenges

You can attribute the growth of ASRS solutions to the benefits this automation brings to the cold chain and cold storage operators. Implementing an ASRS enables 24/7 cold storage warehouse and distribution operations. It also reduces labor overhead, while also increasing cold storage throughput capabilities. Warehouse operators can streamline product storage and improve inventory organization and cold chain fulfillment. ASRS also achieves higher storage density within the warehouse footprint and maximizes cube utilization. By optimizing cold storage material flow and enhancing ergonomics, it improves warehouse safety. Operators can replace human labor with ASRS automation in harsh temperature warehouse environments. SSI Schaefer has a host of ASRS solutions for your cold storage needs. As a trusted partner, the company can determine which solutions below are best-suited for your cold storage applications.

Pallet Shuttle.

An automated pallet shuttle used in a channel storage system can offer several benefits to cold storage providers. Front-end lifts can connect to multiple rack levels for high dynamics and efficient pallet storage. Pallet shuttle systems enable high throughput and high storage density. With multi-deep channel storage—similar to a shelf retrieval machine (SRM) with a satellite—it’s well-suited for faster throughput applications.  

The company’s Schaefer Lift & Run (SLR) module, for example, has a low weight and energy-efficient lift drives. As many as 25 to 40 pallets can pass in and out per level, per hour. The heightened storage capacity, coupled with increased efficiency is ideal for a food and beverage cold storage facility. 

High Bay Warehouse.

A high bay warehouse (HBW), where heights exceeding 20 meters are necessary, provides thousands of pallet spaces for a variety of cold chain product sizes and heights and direct access to every article.  With multi-deep storage capacity and efficient pallet storage and retrieval machines, an HBW excels in a deep-freeze warehouse environment. SSI Schaefer designs HBWs to specific specifications and requirements, providing significant flexibility for cold storage providers. A fully automated HBW with a silo design uses the racking as the supporting structure for the roof and walls of the storage facility. This option provides greater flexibility for pallet capacity without the confines of an existing building hall.  

A cold chain facility in the Philippines relies on SSI Schaefer’s rack-clad HBW for food security and supply chain continuity. As a natural disaster-prone region, the rack-clad HBW solution provides a typhoon-resistant structure and 20,000 pallet positions of frozen food racks.

Mobile Racking.

A mobile racking system provides the advantage of space optimization and flexibility that cold storage operators desire. Regardless of the size and quality of the stored goods, a mobile racking system can accommodate a variety of cold chain order types. With adjustable rack aisles and higher storage capacity, mobile racking provides barrier-free cold storage warehouse space and work areas. Cold storage providers can expect increased storage capacity of up to 90%, with space savings up to 45%. Mobile racking is a highly efficient and durable automated intralogistics solution. SSI Schaefer complements its mobile racking solutions with conveying systems and automated guided vehicles for expanded cold chain automation.

A mobile pallet racking system provides an SSI Schaefer customer with a high-density cold storage operation. The frozen food storage facility includes 9,270 pallet locations for greater product variety and order fulfillment options.  

SSI Orbiter.

Ideal for temperature-controlled environments, the SSI Orbiter is a semi-automated channel storage system, providing compact storage of large volumes with low item diversity. It’s for this reason that the Orbiter is a fitting choice for food and beverage cold storage warehouse operators. With several storage units stacked side by side in channels, you can choose to stock each channel with a single item. Access to each channel occurs via the front docking station, which the Orbiter vehicle locks onto. A bin stacker loads pallets on the Orbiter for transport and storage in the channel.

An SSI Schaefer customer chose the company’s Orbiter pallet shuttle system for its three tempering chambers, with one chamber doubling as a blast freezer chamber. Each of the three chambers accommodates 52 pallet locations in four channels across two levels. The Orbiter’s automation stores and retrieves pallets of meat and food products with no human intervention. 

Ready Your Cold Chain with SSI SCHAEFER

As cold storage demand increases, warehouse operators need a partner with the automation and expertise to thrive in a changing marketplace. SSI SCHAEFER is the leading choice for the next phase of your cold chain management strategy. SSI Schaefer brings intralogistics automation into the cold. The company’s ASRS solutions ensure product integrity during cold chain fulfillment and distribution processes.

Explore how cold storage automation from SSI SCHAEFER can deliver for your warehouse operation. Download the SSI SCHAEFER Cold Chain Best Practice Guide Today! 

Want more Information? Contact us to speak with a supply chain expert!