When dealing with increasing demands, advancing technology helps to provide better storage solutions.
Within the seafood storage industry, Asia still lags far behind the European and US market in terms of investing in technology. That is mainly due to the lower cost business models that the region employs where it is difficult to justify a good Return on Investment (ROI).
However, with Asia merging as the fastest-growing region in the world, higher demands for more significant technology-based solutions and systems within this sector’s supply chain continue to increase.
Cold Storage Supply Chain
Food safety is a primary concern in Asia’s multi-billion-dollar seafood production business. Traditionally in emerging Asian markets, there has been a high spoilage rate going to tabletop from harvested seafood. The solution to raising the standards for domestic food distribution to protect the health of people is to have cold storage facilities.
However, to get started, the investment cost for building and running a cold storage facility can cost 10 times more than operating an ambient temperature warehouse. That is due to the fact that more sophisticated technologies are inherently required to handle goods.
The approach that is commonly used is to attempt to lower the initial set up cost since other variables are inevitable, like higher operating costs. Of course, that isn’t a smart approach to take. Over the long run that is especially true since higher productivity and space optimization can be achieved when a modern storage system is used. It can pay for itself, with lower operating costs along with increased profit margins eventually.
In this case, a fundamental requirement is stock rotation, since seafood has a limited shelf life. Building and operating a cold storage facility has high costs associated with it, so it is essential for maximum volumetric utilization to be offered by the storage solution.
Mobile Racking System
In the past, selective racks have been a low-cost option that offers full pallet access. However, it usually offers low storage density since it only uses about 32 per cent of a warehouse’s actual storage area.
For drive-in racks and double-deep racks, storage density is around 50-60 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. However, in these cases, case picking opportunities and pallet storage flexibility are reduced.
Therefore, rather than a conventional storage system being used, the wiser choice would be to utilize an electrical mobile racking system which provides operators with up to 75-80 per cent storage capacity and 100 per cent selectivity, and at the same time allowing cartons cases to be picked on demand and pallets to be removed. The trade previously thought mobile bases were much too expensive, but in a cold storage facility, the can double the overall storage capacity and still provide 01 selective racking for the facility.
For a 3PL within the seafood industry, this directly translates into increased revenue, since it allows more customer goods to be stored inside of the same facility. For a seafood product manufacturer, that means having the ability to store the same number of pallets is a facility that is much smaller which is quite significant for cold storage warehouse since they are expensive to build and operate.
Storage and Retrieval
Based on the increase in the number of warehouses that have been built recently on narrow aisle storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), it is an indication that using more sophisticated systems within the region is increasing.
That is due to that fact that many companies recognize that it is much harder to operate cold stores manually. That is particularly true whenever the temperature for frozen food is hovering around -25 degrees C, and therefore makes it easier to justify the ROI on using automated systems.
AS/RS is a type of fully automated high-density storage facility where pallets are transferred via transfer carries and automated in-feed conveyor systems to pallet racking that is serviced by retrieval and storage machines. Therefore, it reduces energy and labor needs, which still providing high levels of accuracy.
Using an aisle-changing AS/RS system that has picking tunnels is a lower cost alternative, and there are two of these systems that are operating in South East Asia currently.
Control Using Radio Frequency
Within the current market, where there is high demand for accurate and fast stock replenishment utilizing a storage solution, there is another type of high-density storage system receiving a lot of interest within the region called the radio frequency-controlled satellite system.
In contrast to the conventional storage method that uses drive-in racking to manually move goods into storage lanes, with a radio frequently controlled satellite suited for use in a deep freeze facility, it automatically travels down the lane to load and retrieve the goods pallets and then places them on the racking system.
Goods pallets within this system may be concurrently places into two storage lines or more. The translated into a system that is more efficient for collecting and retrieving goods, and that is particularly critical for the seafood industry since it is time-sensitive and operates within a continuous loop cycle.
A radio frequency-controlled satellite system has about the same racking costs that a traditional drive-in system does. It is compatible to use with conventional forklift trucks, so no additional costs are incurred for replacing existing equipment.
Increases in efficiency of forklift trucks also cover the satellite costs, since they can handle a much higher number of pallet cycles on an n hourly basis. Therefore, it has been proven that using the system is a more cost-effective and faster alternative compared to using a conventional storage system.