There is more to storing goods at a manufacturing facility or in a warehouse than simply placing products in racks and on pallets. Many products require specific storage conditions, including those that fall in the cold chain cache category.
What is Cold Chain Storage?
Cold storage involves the management of perishable products in a temperature-controlled storage environment, be it in manufacturing or warehousing. In order to maintain the quality and safety of each product stored, certain environmental requirements must be followed. Required conditions can range from temperature and humidity control to flash freezing.
Items that fall in the cold chain category are perishable commodities such as:
- Perishable food and beverages
- Pharmaceuticals and vaccines
- Medical products
- Some chemicals
- Live plants
- Film (from both still photography and videography)
- Wax products
Cold chain responsibilities begin as soon as products arrive at the warehouse. With advanced WMS (warehouse management system) software, mobile scanners help provide check-ins at receiving and real-time updates. Upon arrival, goods must be put into the system, inspected, weighed, labeled, and put away according to pre-specified storage stipulations. Stock rotation requirements must be followed for FIFO (First In First Out), LIFO (Last In First Out), FEFO (First Expiry First Out), or other lot order fulfillment as specified. Once received inventory has been properly addressed, products are then available for distribution all while the warehouse continues to adhere to overall cold storage rules throughout the process.
Monitoring the Cold Storage Environment
Customers depend upon quality service from a distribution facility, therefore it is vital to understand their cold storage requirements upfront. What products are to be stored and distributed and at what temperature? Will new products be added into the mix or will the same inventory be stored on a regular basis? Which items require cold storage and at what level?
Once customer requirements have been established and compliance standards are defined, cold chain storage monitoring begins. Maintaining health, safety, and quality standards are key to a cold storage warehouse's success, therefore systems that offer real-time monitoring, alerts, and historical data (often required by governing or regulatory agencies) are of the utmost importance. An advanced WMS should easily work with your internal monitoring systems to provide accurate reporting of current and historical data. A WMS software that specifically meets all food, FDA, and pharmaceutical-grade requirements is recommended for both warehouses and manufacturers.
Cold Storage Equipment Maintenance
To keep operations running smoothly and eliminate any quality standards issues down the road, warehouses must follow scheduled maintenance and inspections on equipment and in areas that affect cold chain products. Cold storage design, supply, and installation company Stancold UK offers the following expanded list of seven tips to improve cold storage efficiency:
- Keep condenser units clean
- Ensure doors are sealed
- Check evaporator coils regularly
- Keep an eye on walls and ceiling
- Use proper lighting for each type of product
- Continually monitor temperature
- Have an inspection and maintenance schedule
Constant monitoring and regular maintenance of your cold storage equipment and areas will ensure customer products are housed according to set environmental standards. If you have questions on how your WMS software can help with cold chain storage monitoring, contact ASC Software today.