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As more consumers look for fast, affordable, and convenient food options, the demand for frozen warehousing has increased.
Combined with the growth of fast grab-and-go food offerings, a higher demand for organic, gluten-free and non-GMO food, and the rapid growth in store-to-door delivery, businesses offering frozen food products are constantly on the lookout for ways to make operations go faster, simpler, and more cost-effective.
The Frozen Warehouse
Most warehouses that handle food products have a significant portion of their operation devoted to frozen foods. These sub-zero zones present special logistical challenges.
Foodservice operations need faster, more efficient, ways to fill orders while maintaining product quality, protecting people and property against temperature hazards, and seeking new ways to improve both product and data flow.
Practicing First-In/First-Out practices is standard in most foodservice operations. Even though frozen foods tend to have a longer shelf life than fresh perishables, keeping products too long in the freezer can deteriorate product quality. Freezer burn is also a risk.
Frozen warehouses need an effective way to track every case of product that enters the facility and ensure that it goes out as quickly as possible. Using tools like barcode scanners, RFID, and GPS to facilitate product handling can increase speed and ensure FI/FO practices are always followed.
The human factor is always going to be one of the weakest links in the supply chain — especially in frozen warehouse operations. People are more prone to get hurt, get sick, or simply be unreliable.
Many warehouse and distribution centers are actively seeking ways to replace human workers with automation at every possible step. Things like driverless forklifts, automated guided vehicles, and industrial robots can work 24 hours per day without a break. They also don’t require a paycheck or benefits.
In many instances, automation also allows operations to be faster and more accurate than they would be with human workers.
Innovative Storage Solutions
Companies that offer food products are constantly developing new and innovative ways to package it so that it stays fresh longer, had a longer shelf life, and is easier and safer to transport without the risk of damage.
Microwavable bags, reusable zip closures, and other packaging innovations can help protect food in the frozen warehouse while also making it more convenient for the end user.
Things like air-tight packaging, durable plastic or cardboard, and sensors in the packaging to warn of temperature changes can help protect products and improve the flow of frozen warehouse operations.