Trends in Cold Storage – Streamlining Operations by Meeting Demands

Creating cold storage facilities for the food industry from scratch is an ambitious undertaking, faced with challenges that occur from the various needs of the customers. When requirements are successfully met however, operators seek expansion opportunities via partnerships with retailers, foodservice operators and food producers.

Enlarging cold storage capacity is an important part of the strategy of one of the largest providers of logistic services in the UK, namely Yearsley Logistics. The company provides customers with cold storage, distribution, ambient, chilled and freight forwarding solutions. With 13 depots across the UK, Yearsley Logistics offers 335,000 pallet storage and a 300-strong fleet of temperature controlled vehicles creating a national cold chain network. Customers large and small are offered day one for day two, seven days a week into major retailers and an unrivalled food service distribution network.

Moreover, Yearsley Group also incorporates a food division which is made up of Yearsley Food Sales, Belfield and IcePak which between them, wholesale more than 1,500 individual frozen product lines and have an extensive portfolios of ethnic certified products. The company’s first phase of a three part expansion is now complete and in operation at the 13.6 acre site, adjacent to the group’s headquarters in Heywood. The new cold store, will on completion of all three phases, double Heywood’s existing pallet capacity, from 40,000 to 80,000 sites. The expansion allows the company to create a northern ‘superhub’ where stock will be consolidated for more efficient delivery into the UK’s major retailers and food service organizations. The shell of the second phase, which has already been built, will be fitted out over the next 6 months and will go live throughout 2014. The final phase will be fitted out as and when required, according to customer demand.

The new building is insulated to help reduce energy use making it one of the most energy efficient cold stores in the country. It will also include rainwater harvesting to feed the cooling systems, which will save on fresh water usage. Photovoltaic solar panels and LED lighting have been fitted as Yearsley Logistics continue their focus on reducing our electricity use by 8% by 2015. According to the company’s managing director, this expansion is in direct response to demand from new customers and a natural step, taking into account the fact that the existing Heywood store was running near to capacity. The end result will contribute to an increase in efficiency and will also reduce the carbon footprint, while streamlining operations for the company’s retail and foodservice partners.

The challenges of turnkey projects

Creating and implementing cold storage projects for the food industry can prove to be a more complex undertaking than traditional builds, as they require specific criteria for design and performance, as well as expertise and know-how. When a company has the freedom to control the direction of design and the budget, aspects which are usually associated with creating turnkey greenfield turnkey projects, this will allow it to use more creativity and a timely construction, which in turn makes for satisfied clients. One of the major challenges in this regard is finding the right partners to work with, in order to get the job properly done.

Coldbox Builders is a Canadian company that fits this profile and has an extensive list of clients from fortune 75 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups in food manufacturing and distribution sectors. They are increasingly becoming preferred with their clients, and majority of their projects are negotiated. The company takes responsibility for all stages of the development process, as they are the ones who select the consultants, subcontractors and align regulators and all parties involved, in order to successfully complete a cold storage project. With extensive operations in Canada, the company is now focused on expanding their client portfolio regionally, as well as across the border, into the United States. In this regard, satisfied customers will provide the best references and the company’s sales model is based on partnering with the right clients, to build a network of relationships and customer referrals.

Coldbox’s preferred project solution methodology is design-build, a method which allows the company to implement, execute and manage the entire range of needs of each project, while also providing a single point of contact, which translates into operational efficiency and a clear communication structure. Among the services that the company can provide by using such a concept there are: concept designs, planning assistance, cost budgeting, feasibility analysis, regulator approvals, professional design, building permit acquisition and site plan approval, complete turnkey construction management, over all project management and start up, commissioning and validation where required. Representatives of Coldbox Builders say that around 75 percent of their work is design-build projects, the other 25 percent being design-bid-build. Most importantly, maintaining a close contact with the partners and the client is crucial, from the beginning of a project, whether this means involvement with consultants, other contractors or regulators. And finally, since one of the important aspects to success in the industry is practicality and informing customers of the progress, avoiding unwanted surprises is best achieved by conducting a thorough feasibility study before actually implementing any project.

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