Automation heats up for frozen foods - Food & Drink Business

2022-05-21 23:21:01 By : Mr. Devin He

Frozen food has become much more popular at home with market growth being accelerated by online shopping and home delivery services. Consumers are preferring frozen food as a better solution for convenience, value and long-term preservation of foods retaining wholesome vitamins and antioxidants. The improving quality of frozen food, the popularity of ready meals and a growing range of vegetarian and vegan options are also helping to drive up demand.

Coronavirus initially led to a decline in the away from home market for frozen foods, as restaurants were forced to close during lockdowns, but this is starting to return to normal as more and more countries open back up. At the same time, consumption of frozen food at home has increased via both the take home and the fast-growing home delivery sectors. In the long term the market will continue to grow strongly, and the away-from-home market will recover.

Producers and retailers whose operations have been able to respond most effectively to rising and fluctuating demand are best placed to capitalise on the market trends of demand for smaller packs, larger overall order sizes, a broader product range and increasing home delivery. Warehouses and distribution centres need to adapt with automated storage and retrieval systems that can accommodate these changes while also fulfilling more orders faster than ever before.

With rising energy costs and today’s drive to increase sustainability, reducing electricity costs and maintaining a climate-neutral supply chain have become very important considerations for refrigerated logistics. This means the use of sustainable solutions using green electricity, modern refrigeration systems, modern intralogistics technology and holistic sustainable solutions for new buildings. Swisslog is currently working with leading global construction engineering companies on a holistic concept for frozen food storage and handling that covers all aspects of design including architecture, building materials and technology.

Useful technologies for frozen food retrieval and storage automation include:

Stacker cranes, such as Swisslog’s Vectura high bay warehouse pallet stacker crane has up to 20% lower energy consumption and performs well in temperatures as low as -30°C. Swisslog’s Vectura stacker cranes have been used in Australia by custom furniture fitting specialist, Blum, which expanded its warehouse to provide increased storage density within a reduced footprint.

Pallet shuttles, such as Swisslog’s PowerStore system, which system employs low-footprint pallet lifts in place of aisles to enable storage 20+ pallets deep. PowerStore is also ideal for automating brownfield frozen food storage facilities as the technology can be installed in existing buildings. Swisslog’s PowerStore system has been used in Australia by Linfox Bevchain to enhance safety and increase storage by around 60%.

Complete Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), such as Swisslog’s CycloneCarrier, a freezer-capable solution for order picking both for store delivery and online and home delivery retailing. Swisslog’s CycloneCarrier system has been used by Alnatura Produktions in Dortmund, Germany, to efficiently store low-volume, non-perishable items across 13,480 bin locations, two aisles and 19 rack levels.

Automation can help to make temperature-controlled warehouses more efficient, flexible, and responsive to changing consumers demands. With the retail and distribution sectors feeling the effects of today’s labor shortages as fiercely as any, especially in unpopular freezing cold environments, logistics automation can help to grow your business and achieve more with your existing workforce.

With frozen food demand peaking at this time of year, there’s never been a better time to consider the business case for investing in enhanced warehouse automation.

By Cuong Vo, Head of Sales and Consulting, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). Cuong has extensive sales, account management, and leadership experience within the industrial automation industry. He is strongly focused on adding customer value through solutions for Swisslog’s key markets, which include food and beverage, e-grocery, e-commerce, and retail. 

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