Cold Storage on a Hot Day
By Robert Sushinski, Marketing Coordinator, Westfalia Technologies, Inc.
As the dog days of summer approach, many people will be dreaming of the beach, putting on their favorite pair of shorts, and sitting next to an air conditioner imagining a “cooler” life. But some warehouse workers will be sipping hot coffee, putting on their gloves and parka, seeing their breath with every exhale, and sitting next to a heater on break imagining the Sahara, just to be able to feel all 10 fingers and toes.
It is no surprise that warehouses are expanding cold and freezer facilities to accommodate the demand, creating a need for more workers to keep up with the work flow. Companies face the dilemma of hiring additional personnel to in the warehouse, increasing the overall cost of labor. An automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is the perfect “worker” to decrease labor costs, increase inventory and shipment accuracy, and creates a more efficient warehouse.
When an AS/RS enters a warehouse, management will begin to see the benefits. The system doesn’t need a jacket or gloves to stay warm, as it can operate in temperatures as low as -30*F. It will continually work, significantly increasing throughput, while decreasing labor, waste, and maintenance for the life of the AS/RS without the need for a break to warm up. Utilizing a warehouse execution system (WES) can also make it possible to check the status of the system in an easy-to-use platform. The goal is not to eliminate the labor force, but to take away the hardships of people in sub-zero environments for extended periods of time.
When it comes to a warehouse, accuracy is paramount. If a company cannot actively supervise the status of inventory, they are already at a disadvantage to competitors. An AS/RS can improve accuracy up to 99.9% and reduce shipping errors. With a high density AS/RS, space for inventory can also be increased because the system needs less room to operate. The less room the machine needs, the more room there is for storage and the smaller freezer, meaning less energy is wasted on keeping the temperature constant.
When dealing with cold or frozen storage, the energy consumed by these facilities is constantly scrutinized. By continuously opening of doors for workers to enter and exit the warehouse, operating costs will increase to keep the temperatures consistent. Adding an AS/RS can reduce those energy costs by creating storage that increases overall inventory, but decreases the space needed to store the cold or frozen goods. Smaller spaces require less energy to keep cool and that will free up additional warehouse space. Take a look at our case study on Hershey Creamery and see how we created a unique design that increased storage density by 40% and decreased energy and labor costs.
Hot or cold, automation is worth researching to create an efficient, profitable warehouse that can handle the volume that the future may bring. If you happen to get caught outside and the heat is unbearable, imagine being an AS/RS in a freezer, and it may help you cool off. If that doesn’t help, check out our benefits calculator to see how an AS/RS could give you an advantage and keep you from sweating the competition.