Managing Energy Costs In Cold Storage For Food And Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry is one of the largest markets in the world, with an estimated worth of US$7,623M this year.

For most cold storage units, accessibility and quality of service are key focus areas. However, it is worth mentioning that there is one more factor that should be considered - energy costs.

Since most food items are perishable, they need to be stored under refrigeration. And it needs no mention that refrigeration requires a lot of energy.

It is noteworthy that energy is only second to overhead expenses in any cold logistic supply chain.
So, what could be done to improve energy management? Perhaps, understanding the challenges might help answer this question.

Challenges Faced By Cold Storage Units
The cold storage industry faces two key challenges when it comes to energy management. They are, namely, lack of data insights and limited infrastructure. Let's understand these two in detail.

Lack Of Data Insights
In most cold storage units, the key decision-maker is often an expert who relies on experience. For example, an expert would suggest when to lower or increase the temperature based on personal experiences. The same goes with maintaining the relative humidity inside the unit.

As a result, there are often colossal energy wastages, subsequently leading to a much-wasted effort. While for a single unit, the energy wastage might be limited. When it comes to large chains of companies, the cumulative loss can be much higher.

Limited Infrastructure
Most of the cold storage units still use conventional HVAC systems. It is worth mentioning that older cooling and heating units use a lot more energy than newer units. Read here more about how modern HVAC systems help save on energy bills. Besides, there is often no centralized cooling system at all.

The infrastructure, in a nutshell, lacks modern upgrades needed to conserve energy. Besides, environmental variables also affect energy consumption. For example, humidity, temperature, weather conditions, and elevation decide the cooling needs. Thus, increasing energy consumption by exponential figures.

Now, it should be easier to understand the solutions to these problems.

Overcoming Energy Conservation Challenges
Thankfully, there are advanced solutions to overcome the challenges in energy management.

Using Data For Decision Making
The foremost is collecting and monitoring energy consumption data. It includes the energy needed for cooling the facility and the losses. Based on these data trends, better decisions can be made for optimizing energy consumption. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is now easier to gather all this data. And subsequently, use it for decision making.

Constant Maintenance
While data-driven decisions help improve efficiency, regular maintenance may help lower down the losses. To put this into perspective, let us consider an example. Replacing clogged filters can improve airflow. As a result, there would be less pressure on the cooling unit to push the air through the filter.

Opting for data-driven strategies and monitoring systems can help implement energy conservation measures. Cross monitoring between units and their performance can help get rid of inefficient systems. And, likewise, the implementation of better-performing strategies can further help save utility costs.

As such, energy costs cannot be eliminated, but they can be optimized for more savings. Thus improving profitability for supply chain companies.

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