Recently I had the opportunity to tour a new distro for the food industry and I became aware of just what a pain it is to try to automate a refrigerated warehouse. I’ve spent some time working in logistics over the years, but this creates a whole new level of challenge that I hadn’t considered previously.
Warehouse at Hackeberga Castle (Photo credit: Mackmyra Svensk Whisky AB)
Obviously, any materials handling operation that exists in extreme temperatures is going to have its share of challenges, but some of these were unique to me.
- Special lubrication is needed to prevent system failure (this is maybe a bit of a head smacker, but is still something that needs to be taken into account)
- Transitional zones are needed between extreme temperature areas. If you’ve ever gone into a walk in cooler at a grocery store that has one of those plastic curtains and a small room in between - it’s the same principal, easing the temperature transition, but still, as it was explained to me, can be a bit of a nightmare to set up efficiently.
- Condensation - this is going to happen no matter what you do and will cause some issues with machinery, but really wreaks havoc on photo sensors, so that has to be planned for as well.
All in all, very interesting stuff, and I have to say I had never thought about the unique challenges involved in a setup such as this.