From the outside, cold storage facilities can appear to be large, simple boxes. However that perception is far from reality—they actually require an advanced, detailed analysis in the design phase to achieve significant operational cost savings.
At its core, a cold storage facility is designed around the type of product to be stored and how long it will sit on the shelves. But as technologies and techniques aimed at improving efficiencies have proliferated, cold storage warehouses have become more complex to design. Here are five key budget considerations to keep in mind:
1. Energy Efficiency — Energy costs to operate cold storage facilities can reach tens of thousands of dollars each month. Factors that can influence and improve the energy efficiency of the facility include under-floor heating systems, consideration of adjacent room temperatures, and LED lighting. The orientation of a building can also improve energy efficiency with higher temperature rooms located at the southern end of the facility, and lower-temperature rooms at the northern end.
2. Refrigeration — Factors that influence the efficiency of a refrigeration system include compressor, condenser, evaporator and air unit selection, variable frequency drives, and premium-efficiency motors. These factors must be carefully balanced with operational demands and return-on-investment criteria.
3. Refrigeration Controls — In addition to mechanical efficiencies, automation can greatly improve refrigeration efficiency and optimize energy use. Automation allows engineers to generate trend analyses, alarm logs, energy management data, and runtime reports in real-time. This data allows them to make the necessary changes and modifications to ensure the refrigeration system is running at optimal efficiency.
4. Thermal and Roofing — With the staggering energy demands of cold storage facilities, it’s vital to construct a vapor barrier of uncompromising integrity. Numerous thermal details must be considered including insulation thickness for the floors, walls and roof, low-temperature door systems, and the use of insulated metal panels for adequate vapor seals. Roofing coated with a reflective white membrane can also reflect the sun’s rays for added energy efficiency.
5. Electrical Utilities — Loss of power in a cold-storage facility can lead to significant financial losses. Design considerations for electrical utilities should include operating voltages, reliability and redundancy of supply, standby generation and machine and electrical room locations that provide optimal utility distribution.
If you’d like to learn more about designing a budget efficient cold storage warehouse, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.