Food-grade warehouses have a wide variety of shapes, sizes and load challenges. Their tasks may require very fast turnaround or long-term storage of a variety of foods, from frozen meat to pasta trays to soda tanks. While there are many types, the most common are dry storage, frozen storage and refrigerated storage. Some are attached to manufacturing facilities, while others are self-contained.
Unique challenges of food-grade warehouses
While food warehouses face issues inherent to every distribution facility (labor costs, space utilization, picking efficiency, errors, productivity, etc.), they also face several unique challenges. These include.
● HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) compliance
● Organic regulations and compliance
● Pest and infestation control
● Food protection (sanitation, handling controls)
● Higher training burden than other warehouses
What approach should you take to your racking system?
Pallet Racking Systems
Pallet racking systems are typical in these food storage facilities, but should be designed for maximum safety. While the types of quick-ship shelving you can purchase from catalogs and websites (including ours) are reliable and robust, food-grade warehouses often must comply with more stringent health and safety regulations than typical warehouses. Issues such as organization, cleaning and the ability to use sprinkler systems must be considered.
Food-grade facilities are typically more expensive to operate than other warehouses, especially if you store bulk products in refrigerated cases or freezers. This means an emphasis on fitting the maximum number of pallets safely into the space. These situations are almost always complex in design and outcome, and require more attention than simply taking measurements and finding the right rack.
High depth ratio
Your typical pallet racking may not fit the needs of a complex food storage warehouse that requires better space utilization and regulatory compliance. Consider the ratio of height to depth, which is typically six to one. Standard shelving can never safely exceed that ratio, but engineered systems may be able to do so if your facility has available net ceiling height, which allows you to squeeze in another level of pallet storage.
Raising the Floor Level of Pallets
Food warehouses should have floor beams installed to lift stored pallets off the floor. This makes cleaning and sanitation easier, while reducing the chance of food pallets coming into contact with environmental contaminants.
Meet the seismic code.
We have extensively discussed the seismic rack compliance. Food warehouse is not much different from other warehouses, but it is still worth discussing. As the loads may be very heavy (freezing trays, beverage boxes), they may require a stronger rack than specified by the code. In view of the expected life of buildings in this industry, it is very desirable to ensure that your racks meet the requirements.
Inventory turnover and batch traceability
Picking from carton flow in food distribution center Most food warehouses rely on meticulous batch rotation to ensure first-in-first-out food distribution. This is where the well-designed material handling operation can save time and help simplify the operation. Pallet flow shelf automatically implements FIFO concept in a simple and sustainable way for pallet loading. Carton racks help workers to select only designated boxes or SKUs. When filling an order, streaming storage can track the date and products together with your WMS to ensure that they are deposited and picked in the correct order.
Note that some frozen food facilities emphasize storage density, sometimes using drive-in racks that emphasize density over selectivity, and can employ a last-in, first-out concept. This works well when palletized products are handled and shipped in relatively short sequential batches.
Food-grade warehouse solutions specialist
While the challenges of designing and implementing a food distribution storage system can be significant, we can help you solve them through our 20+ years of experience in the food industry, from casual foods to beef processing. Contact us today for quick help.
Post time: Jun-14-2022