Getting the balance right
12 December 2012
As the dynamics of the cold storage market change, operators must balance picking needs against storage demands says Index Procon md Roger Young Index Procon is a storage solutions provider operating across the logisti
Index Procon is a storage solutions provider operating across the logistics industry and managing director Roger Young says priorities in the cold storage market have shifted as the market has developed in recent years.
"Historically cold storage meant long term storage but operators are now a more integral part of the supply chain to supermarkets and are dealing with much smaller orders and much greater frequency," says Young.
He argues this means the ability to fill the cube of the building completely as they did with pallet convertors or drive-in racking in the past is now unfeasible as operators have a lot more personnel carrying out picking of individual orders. Storage companies are refrigerating the same volume but not storing anything like the same number of units.
"Rather than pallet in and pallet out, a lot of the time it is pallet in and case out," Young adds. "It's about finding a compromise solution - to keep the density up but still be able to pick as many orders as possible." A number of solutions can be specified. Young says powered mobile pallet racking can offer more selectivity, but this will not necessarily lend itself when picking rates are high.
"You could start to look at making good use of the bulk at high level with things like live storage or push back racking. However, such is the intensity of picking that some operators have gone back to conventional reach trucks and racking with something like 30% space occupancy as opposed to the 80 or 90% many are used to." Index Procon says each location should be assessed to ascertain area available, how many pallets go in and out, how many orders need to be picked plus other constraints and then a workable solution can be specified.
Young concludes: "The key thing is getting a trade-off for the revenue added by extra picking against money lost in the lower volume stored.We do a lot of sourcing in the market to get the best and most cost effective solution for a given problem. No one manufacturer can deliver it all."