The cold storage sector continues to see growth, with a recent industry study showing steady growth in North America.

According to the 2016 International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses Global Cold Storage Capacity Report, refrigerated space in North American warehouses grew by 210 million cubic feet from 2014-16.

With that comes newer technology to help warehouse operators manage that space more efficiently, as tracking temperatures, time and lot tracking and ensuring efficient rotation remains important.

“Key to this equation is building in automation with a high level of system flexibility that will allow changes in pallet storage paradigms, throughput volumes and system configuration as conditions require,” according to a news release from Advance Storage Products, Huntington Beach, Calif. “For refrigerated warehouses, this means a solution that will ensure high-density pallet storage to minimize energy costs, as well.”

And although cold storage construction is on the rise, more companies are being forced to do with less, maximizing warehouse space without building new square footage, according to the release.

Advance Storage’s answer to automated storage and retrieval systems demands is a pallet “fetching” system called Rover.

Rover is a battery-powered three-dimensional shuttle-based system that uses racks with conveyors that allow it to move anywhere in the racks to retrieve specific pallets. The system removes the need for fork lifts when filling orders.

“Consequently, Rover, and systems like it, provides the industry’s most dense automated pallet storage, which delivers improved cold retention in refrigerated facilities,” according to the release.

Advantages of such a system, according to Advance Storage Products:

  • FIFO/LIFO capabilities — first-in/first-out and last-in/first-out policies can be followed, with multiple stock-keeping units accessible on different aisles, levels;
  • SKU changes — the system supports the flexibility to change to new SKU profiles; and
  • Increasing throughput — to increase productivity, add more Rover shuttles.

According to the release, the Rover technology is well-suited for fresh fruit warehouses, such as apple facilities.

“Rover delivers efficient and high-throughput movement for individual pallets, with individual time and lot identification, throughout the warehouse and production facility, permitting the processor to maintain precise control of its fresh fruit products through every stage of their handling – from receiving, to sorting, storage, and through packaging and shipping,” according to the release.