Regardless of their size or inventory, all cold storage facilities (and supply chains) share some universal challenges, with the first and foremost being cold chain integrity. A cold chain can break down at many different points from point of origin to the consumer. Inconsistent temperature control during shipment, poor temperature control inside the warehouse, and product sitting on an open dock (or in an open trailer) too long are all common scenarios for cold chain disruption. Considering the value of a standard OTR food shipment is between €50,000 and €100,000, with reefer loads going up €1 million (and pharmaceutical loads up to €50 million) any glitch in a cold chain’s integrity can become an immensely expensive mistake.
Employee safety is a concern at all warehouses, whether they are cold storage or dry goods. Loading dock areas are particularly dangerous, accounting for nearly a quarter of all industrial injuries. This isn’t surprising, considering the number of forklifts manoeuvring around towers of pallets and product with a fair amount of foot traffic mixed into such a small area. Dock exteriors are also a dangerous area. There are hundreds of forklift accidents annually due to trailer creep, trailer tip-over or trailers pulling away from the dock prematurely. Tractor trailers are also a major cause of back-over deaths, and the risk isn’t isolated; many international governments are recommending aggressive solutions to address this danger at the dock.
Inside cold storage facilities, large blast freezer doors can be notoriously difficult to open without multiple people. Workers who attempt to open them with unsafe methods – like using a forklift – can damage the door or cause an injury to themselves or others. Multi-storey workspace and storage areas also create risk for fall-related injuries or injuries due to falling product.
Regulatory compliance is another common challenge for cold storage facilities, particularly in the food sector. Cold chain integrity plays a vital role in meeting food safety standards, defined by organisations like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Reputation is a further challenge, linking to all three common problems: cold chain integrity; employee safety; and regulatory compliance. GCCA research has consistently shown the extent to which Cold Chain providers play an integral part in their customers’ food safety regimes and need to see themselves as ‘Brand extenders’. In a table entitled ‘Top Business Trends that will impact the Company’, highest on the list was ‘food safety’ and ‘protecting the brand’. The challenge of regulation and compliance was not far behind.
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