05 Nov Most Common Challenges for Cold Storage
The cold chain industry faces a standard set of challenges to improve overall efficiency, optimize inventory turns, and maintain profitability in a highly competitive environment. However, these are accompanied by several government regulations, the requirement to maintain a highly consistent controlled environment across all four seasons, and the need to document flawless performance when managing sensitive perishable food products such as seafood, meat, dairy, and produce.
Common Challenges for Cold Storage:
#1 Food Spoilage
Regulating temperatures and humidity to maintain and sustain the lifecycle of your products can be a challenging task.
Different products require different temperature and humidity levels to maintain and sustain properly. Traditional temperature monitoring systems have depended solely on the experience of the operator and that this operator must be on-site to adjust and manage the system. One way cold storage facilities are dealing with this challenge is by moving to a multi-commodity cold storage facility. This means one facility can house fruit, vegetables, dry fruit, spices, and milk (as an example) as a way to increase efficiency for each separate ‘chamber’ with a simultaneous disbursement of energy. This assists in making the a multi-commodity operation more cost and space efficient. This simultaneous level of energy offers a controlled atmosphere within storage and ripening chambers with specific conditions to be met to maintain the highly perishable items and also allow ripening to occur as intended by chamber.
With RFID temperature sensors and monitoring systems we can now move from the traditional monitoring systems with an operator at the facility to managing and monitoring from anywhere. Sensors can also be used to monitor humidity, gas leaks, battery life, and so much more.
Have questions about RFID solutions for Cold Storage?
Contact an AB&R® RFID Specialist 800-281-3056
#2 Product & Warehouse Rack Labels Performing in Extreme Conditions
Barcode labels provide the essential link between physical products and the computer systems that drive receiving, storage, retrieval, and shipment activities. However, in the cold chain environment, standard labels may not perform reliably. Conventional adhesives harden in the frigid environment, rendering the labels non-tacky; if this problem is not quickly detected, the operator runs the risk of widespread label failure after products have been placed in the racks, leading to effectively unidentified products.
Similarly, if appropriate rack labeling material is not selected, the warehouse locations themselves can be misidentified. Effective label products serve as a critical element of the entire traceability system. There are solutions for Cold chain operations, depending on the product class, commonly operate in ranges from -3 to 46F. However, products subjected to blast freezing often encounter lower temperatures (as low as -40F) soon after label application. Labels with specially formulated freezer grade adhesives bond strongly to common substrates such as corrugated boxes, waxed corrugated or returnable plastic containers to survive these harsh conditions.
Barcode quality is important in the frozen logistics environment; with workers commonly wearing bulky gloves that make manual data entry difficult, failed scans are more than a minor inconvenience.
Co-engineered printers along with corresponding label media consistently deliver crisp, clear barcodes essential to smooth operation and chain-of-custody documentation. There are Freezer grade rack labels that develop a strong permanent bond on common rack surfaces and can be applied in environments as low as -20F.
When direct thermal printing is preferred (for instance, when labeling from a rugged mobile printer), labels with cold temperature adhesive provide an excellent alternative for this challenging environment.
Talk to an AB&R® Label Specialist about freezer grade adhesive labels.
Call us 800-281-3056
#3 Product Traceability
Product traceability lays a foundation for effective cold chain logistics; accurate knowledge of product location (whether in transit or in a warehouse rack) drives customer satisfaction and key internal measurements such as inventory turns. Positive chain-of-custody documentation is no longer optional and can be periodically put to the test with recalls. In the incidence of temperature excursions, determining affected products is only possible with accurate location information. With some products such as fresh produce requiring additional control of variables such as humidity and carbon dioxide, accurate documentation is essential. Validation for HACCP (food industry Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) or ISO 22000 systems can be difficult or impossible without accurate traceability. (ISO 22000 is a Food Safety Management System that can be applied to any organization in the food chain, farm to fork. Becoming certified to ISO 22000 allows a company to show their customers that they have a food safety management system in place.)
If you’re involved with the cold storage industry chances are your business may be facing these challenges for product traceability. Using these obstacles to your advantage to have a clearer visibility into your business processes will lead to increased efficiency and an overall boost in productivity. Whether your business is future-proofing processes with RFID-ready enabled products or using barcode systems to identify, track, and manage products. There are several ways your business can take these challenges and turn them into benefits that lead to continued growth.
Read more about Food and Product Traceability Compliance
Benefits of Emerging Cold Storage Solutions
- Assured compliance with government and industry standards
- Improved item traceability
- Robust labels that function from ambient to freezer conditions
- Improved accuracy in shipping, receiving, inventory control
- Full range of media products to meet varied application requirements (basic, moderate, high durability)
- Optimized hardware performance with integrated AB&R solution (printer, media, computer, services, support)
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