The Next Generation of Cold Chain Logistics

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials purchased half their grocery products online, and e-commerce grocery shopping made up 4.5 percent of market share. As of January 2021, that same share is up to 12.5 percent and projected to rise another 9 percent by 2025 — creating a tipping point in consumer buying habits.

While food suppliers have traditionally had the capacity to prepare for seasonal demands, the pandemic has skyrocketed consumer e-commerce and grocery purchases, leaving stores scrambling to pick up the slack and meet today’s unprecedented requirements.


Now more than ever, food processing and distribution companies are aiming to expand cold chain logistics and automation systems — rather than creating a new in-house engineering department — to keep pace with demand and position for future growth. To achieve success in developing, designing, building, and maintaining complex, automated cold envelope facilities, we’re finding that a multilayered, integrated design-build approach is key from concept through completion.

Integrated Team, Holistic Solutions

Cold chain logistics solutions must balance product output, operations efficiency, and return on investment. There are few firms that have the required knowledge and deep experience with this multitiered, special-skills process of automated cold envelope solutions, which perfectly fit the mold of integrated design-build project delivery.


Cold chain logistics solutions must balance product output, operations efficiency, and return on investment.


This delivery model allows the engineer and general contractor to be in sync on design, procurement, and construction, while also maintaining the standards needed for engineering, equipment, piping, materials, and more. By having the entire team engaged upfront, the project business case can be optimized in a way that provides industry-leading client return on investment. Simply put, this model creates higher-performing solutions and more predictable project outcomes.

Intricate Development of Multifaceted Facilities

Envision an extremely cold submarine, on land, storing your frozen foods. For the facility to fulfill its required functions, the envelope must be configured with the structure wrapped by an insulated airtight envelope. The inside environment of a building needs to accommodate a variety of perishable foods and goods, often requiring multiple temperature zones. Climatic conditions exert significant pressure on the exterior of the building containing refrigerated areas, allowing moist air to find its way through any nook and cranny to infiltrate into the cold environment. The operations and building systems are dependent upon the envelope working continuously to prevent condensation and the formation of frost. Adding complexity to maintaining a consistent interior environment, the facility requires multiple openings to allow free movement of material handling equipment (conveyors, pallet jacket, forklifts, etc.) uninterrupted through multiple temperature zones.

There are many detailed tasks that must be accomplished in these unique conditions around the clock. On top of that, cold working environments — especially those accommodating freezers — are becoming increasingly difficult to staff as cost-effective cold environments are needed in more urban and suburban areas.


The inside environment of a building needs to accommodate a variety of perishable foods and goods, often requiring multiple temperature zones.


It’s complicated. Smaller, more efficient facilities are needed to overcome site constraints. Automation allows owners and operators to maximize efficiencies within their facilities, where severe temperatures and challenging productivity rates are more conducive to a mechanical workforce. Greenfield development is optimal in providing the most cost-effective square footage vertically…



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