Ever wondered how we get to have exotic fruits, vegetables, groceries, and ice creams from across the globe all round the year. Thanks to Temperature controlled Warehouses called Cold Storage(s). Cold storage is a facility where temperatures are low so that perishable products can last longer and you can get your products right throughout the year. Cold storage sector is undergoing major growth, with the Government focusing on food preservation. 30% of food that is consumed in developing countries is perishable. The perishability of the product is the reason for high market prices which has pushed the demand for cold storage.
· Cold storage is a small walk-in cooler or freezer with area 1,000 sq ft or less to 200,000 sq ft or more, warehouses at freezing temperatures or cooler (chiller) temperatures
· Cold storage is used to store fruits, vegetables, processed meat, Dairy Products, Spices, Dry fruits, jaggery, pulses, frozen foods, chemicals, and pharmaceutical products.
· Prolonging and preserving the shelf life of food without compromising on the nutritive value.
· Perishable foods stored at the wrong temperature will spoil, leading to changes in color, texture, and flavor due to microbial and bacterial activity
· Cold storage units also offer infrastructure facility along the entire supply chain ie: pre-cooling, weighing, sorting, grading, waxing process, package, and deliver goods almost anywhere in refrigerated couriers across the globe, meaning the prescribed temperature of the product remains the same till it reaches the hands of the consumer.
Why cold storage today:
Cold storages will soon be in demand as farm output has grown during the lockdown during Covid-19! Existing facilities will fill up due to the growth in farm output and newer ones will spring up soon.
This will also mean stabilization in prices of farm produce for example onions that have seen vast fluctuations in pricing will behave better-sustained supply.
The reasons for farm output growth clearly are due to migrant and factory workers having to earn a living with limited opportunities and utilizing the lockdown for agriculture. The monsoon too has been good and so has the sale of Tractors and other farm equipment and this will spiral the growth of cold storages that will ensure that farm produce wastage drops to under 15% of the total production, all in all, better value for products for all stakeholders in the overall chain
Chiller & Freezer
Cold Storages have racks for storage, and these racks are subdivided into palettes. Each Palette is either measured in terms of volume, which typically is 1 square meter and is 1.1m by 1.2 m and by 1.5 m (height) or by weight – Each of these palettes can hold up to 1 ton.
All kinds of business use cold storage services for all kinds of products like
- Perishable food (vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood, dairy products)
- Flowers and plants
- Chemical &Pharmaceutical products
- Artwork& material
The following are the basic specifications/requirement of a basic Cold Storage unit.
- 100% power back up generators
- Specialized Doors (PUF or similar paneled)
- Programmed Logic Controller (PLC) equipment
- Dock Leveler system
- Central plants using ammonia refrigerant which is toxic – Freon is better these days
- Modernized insulation panels
- Reefer Container
- Advanced Grader
- Shuttle racking system with remote control operation, Bins, Pallets
- An automatic mobile racking system
- Automatic doors
- Vapor Absorption
- Solar PV panels
Safety in Cold Storage units
Employee Safety is as important as hiring the right employees to complete a cold room task. It is uncomfortable working in low temperatures and can lead to illnesses like frostbite, frostnip, hypothermia; trench foot may further result in poor performance. Ammonia-based cold storages are hazardous and can cause burn injuries, and freon based cold storages are safe, new and better
Precautions in a Cold Storage unit
- Monitoring the temperature in the cold room
- Providing proper equipment and clothing to employees as per the safety standards
- Well designed air distribution system.
- Installing radiant heaters, warm plates and air jets in the cold units
- There should be at least one emergency exit with proper signage.
- There should be an alarm system in case of lock-ins (with battery back-up)
- Emergency lighting (battery operated for emergency)
- Area check before locking.
- Only authorized persons should be allowed to enter the cold store.
Safety measures can help both the employees and the company to perform safer and better operations.
Future of Cold Storage in India
- The Government has developed various schemes to push cold storages and warehousing in India through forms of tax exemptions, subsidies and an instrument called the Negotiable Warehousing Receipt (NWR)
- The current COVID pandemic has lead to increase Demand for Cold Storage Options.
- All hygiene and safety measure for both the products stored and staff handing the products is vital.
· Setting up a Cold Storage unit involves high capital investment for equipment, high Electricity consumption for the temperature-controlled facility.
· Proper Technical knowledge and skills, planning, quick decision, technical manpower, acute planning, and smart implementation without any financial constraints can turn cold storage is a profitable business keeping in mind the intense capital requirement of the business.
Projected investment in domestic capacity Rs 16,000-21,000 crore will be invested in setting up or upgrading cold storages to address the problem of stockpiling of perishable commodities. With the rapid growth of food and related industries, cold storage is gaining huge demand. COLD STORAGE is now recognized as a sunrise sector in India.