Time is a priceless commodity for perishable foods and specialized products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and even some forms of artwork! It takes significant resources to disseminate supplies from the farms and industries to the shelves at your local vendor or supermarket, and the clock is ticking before perishable goods expire.
Transferring these goods relies on an involved network of workers to transport the goods and locations to provide storage until vendors place orders. If not for cold storage facilities, many of these products would become inedible or unusable, only able to travel to areas within the original vicinity. Depending on the product or manufactured goods, some industries thrive due to cold storage.
How Does Cold Storage Work?
Cold storage facilities maintain their temperatures by combining two significant elements: HVAC air cooling units and proper insulation.
Typically, a compressor takes coolant from a storage receiver and disperses it throughout pipes and other components. This process ensures the refrigeration area receives proper condensing to reach the required temperature. Fans pull heat from the air and pass it through an evaporator, where coolant chills it before releasing the cold air into the storage facility.
The insulation establishes a solid barrier that performs two primary functions. First, it keeps warm air from penetrating the cold storage site. Second, it prevents the cool air generated within from escaping, making it easier to maintain the required temperature while expending less energy.
In most cases, cold storage temperatures are set just above freezing and should not exceed 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual temperature maintained in a facility may vary depending on the food items or other supplies stored within, as some materials preserve better under different conditions.
Benefits of Cold Storage
The most apparent benefit of cold storage is to prolong shelf life among various products, most significantly fruits and vegetables. However, there are other reasons you may want to use cold storage.
Some companies offer a wide variety of products, and not all of those products are sustainable at the same temperature. One significant advantage to cold storage units is that different sections within the facility can be set at different temperatures, allowing myriad products to coexist within the same location while encouraging prolonged shelf-life.
Other cold storage facilities serve as freezers for seafood and other items that maintain their usefulness upon thawing, allowing even greater preservation than basic refrigeration.
These services are vital so that companies with diverse offerings can establish efficient procedures for product preparation and delivery, meaning that items arrive on the shelves for consumers in a timely fashion and at a reduced cost.
Versatility isn’t the only way cold storage reduces costs; the process itself means that these valuable commodities survive longer, reducing the spoilage industries face during the storage, shipping, and delivery processes. In addition, extraordinary innovations in the world of cold storage result in more efficient operations, saving money on energy consumption.
The technology behind cold storage facilities has another benefit, too – it transfers to delivery trucks! While cold storage maintains product integrity in the warehouse, these commodities must still endure transport, sometimes over incredible distances. Fortunately, transport vehicles are now equipped with customizable refrigeration units to ensure that products face significantly reduced spoilage as they travel to their ultimate destinations.
Food service retailers and grocery stores have limited space capacity and must make the best use of what they have. As expected, refrigerated products require specialized placement within units that maintain appropriate temperatures. This is true for commodities available in the shopping aisles and those kept in reserve as replacement stock somewhere in the back.
Cold storage establishes facilities where they can store these items until they are needed, reducing the need for merchants to keep such a large stock on hand to meet demand. They place an order at the nearest facility, and refrigeration trucks set out and arrive on time, keeping supplies flowing at a regular pace while limiting the amount the store needs to keep on hand.
With the capability of maintaining proper temperatures from product development to store shelves, there are significantly fewer health risks involved in the industry. For perishable foods, that means less chance of food poisoning and reduced opportunities for bacteria or other microbe contamination.
Also, some chemicals, including those found in select medications, require temperature control. An effective means to maintain those specifications ensures that medicine does not expire prematurely, reducing effectiveness or introducing adverse side effects.
What Industries Benefit from Cold Storage?
A greater variety of industries require cold storage than you might expect. Here are just some commercial enterprises that need these services to promote effective and safe production and transport of their goods.
- Farm Storage - Before food items are ready for transport, they need a safe, temperature-controlled environment until workers collect a suitable amount of resources for transport.
- Retail Food Centers, Restaurants, the Hospitality Sector - Various markets, hotels, and food services use cold storage sites and refrigeration centers to maintain products until they are ready for use.
- Hospitals, Pharmacies, and Medical Centers - From chemicals to medicines and blood storage, there are various reasons why medical centers need suitable temperature-controlled environments.
- Computer Technology and Electronics - An often surprising addition to this list, many IT centers, and other technical data and storage facilities use cold storage as a precaution against potential hazards such as overheating or contamination.
- Breweries and Wineries - These popular items must also exist in specific temperatures, away from sunlight and heat. Cold storage can help preserve their life span and ensure they endure proper fermentation processes.
- Chemical Industries - Plants and refineries dealing with chemicals, such as petroleum and paper-making, need significant cooling for their products and sometimes use cold storage processes to separate solvents during manufacturing and processing.
The Bottom Line
Cold storage is crucial to ensuring safe and cost-effective delivery of food items and assorted products that require specific temperatures to maintain their integrity. Industries from food service to electronics benefit from these controlled environments. They increase product safety from creation to delivery while allowing retailers and factories to optimize their space as they are not required to keep as many products on hand to meet demand.
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