Global demand for meat, poultry and seafood has never been higher — yet neither has the storage costs.
When operational expenses get added up, warehouses in the meat and seafood industries face tight bottom lines in nearly every category. Energy, labor and raw materials alone eat up almost the entirety of food and beverage manufacturing budgets. But other concerns like hygiene and sanitation, transportation and even environmental depletion keep industry minds up at night, trying to find cost-effective answers that can also scale up with industry demand.
One solution is already under their nose: The right warehouse storage equipment.
The right storage, equipment and warehousing not only helps keep costs down. They maintain the flavor and freshness of these proteins and keep product pipelines intact, all of which are critical to your brand in the ever-competitive meat industry.
Plenty of products tout meat storage technology of the future or come with a list of features, gadgets and gears that look great on paper but are difficult in operation. We're cutting through the noise to bring a one-stop meat industry equipment guide, one that has the key, quintessential meat, poultry and seafood warehousing gear for relevant facilities. No matter the times, this equipment isn't going anywhere.
With the following must-have equipment in-house, your warehouse will be well on its way to operational efficiency — today and tomorrow.
Guidelines for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Warehousing
In the United States, meat and poultry account for the largest share of the country's agriculture production. There are nearly 7,000 federally inspected meat processing plants throughout the United States — and each one must have high-functioning storage.
These facilities adhere to federal and municipal guidelines alike. As seafood, poultry and meat storage logistics offer a solution to simplifying operational outputs and keeping warehouse costs down, there are a few ways they can do so that tie into meat industry trends.
Combined with must-have storage equipment, the following guidelines are a persuading first step to running a more efficient meat, poultry or seafood storage warehouse.
1. Initial Planning for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Warehouse Equipment
When planning your industry warehouse, were the following attributes initially considered?
- Capacity. First and foremost, the capacity of a warehouse must function per its design. As meat and seafood demand increases, many processors have been forced to exceed the original size and scale capacities not only of their production facilities but their warehouses and storage facilities as well. Few can afford to build brand new, large-scale warehouses even with poultry industry trends and meat's growing popularity. It's a dubious mix, as overcrowding warehouses decreases the space's net refrigeration or freezing temperature, putting the meat and seafood at risk for bacteria growth. On top of this, exceeding warehouse capacity and storage potential also spells problems with product itemization and organization.
- Spacing. As noted above, overcrowded meat storage facilities quickly lead to spacing concerns. As product becomes more and more crammed into shelves and storage units, the spatial temperature will likely dip below the mandated 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit refrigerated range or the negative 10 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit range for frozen storage. The quality and nutritional value of the stored meat, poultry and seafood will subsequently decline. Likewise, air will not be able to circulate as freely between storage units and shelving. Air circulation is especially critical for unwrapped carcass meats, as without it, the quality of the meat — as well as the air quality control and hygiene of the overall facility — will further decline. It's a domino series your meat storage operations can't afford.
- Ergonomics. Labor costs already so high. Was your warehouse designed with the most efficient and productive outputs in mind? Or were standard floor plans and worker flows put into effect that might now be coming back to haunt you? You want all operations performed by your warehouse crew to run in the most streamlined manner — from unpacking and indexing incoming shipments to product retrieval, packing and loading. All this plus everything in-between can be improved, and the spatial orientation, equipment and tools available within your warehouse are all primed for it.
- Temperature. The refrigeration temperatures in which frozen poultry, red meat and seafood should be stored varies slightly. For the latter, fish, shellfish and other seafood varieties need warehouse cooler and freezer temperatures in the colder range, from 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For poultry, red meat and pork, industry recommendations state storage temperatures between 32 and 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If freezing meats and seafood, freezer units should always run between negative 10 and negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Many facilities have temperature controls and computerized systems dedicated to this oversight, with alarm systems that sound when temperatures swing or power is lost. Any equipment or facilities with temperatures outside of these ranges are not only wasting energy but seriously jeopardizing the safety and security of their workers and meats alike.
- Material Handling. Last but not least, the flow of handling meat, poultry and seafood at every stage of its storage should be considered as an operational guideline. From unloading and loading at docking stations to re-packing and palletizing, how are the build of the warehouse and the locations of storage units helping or hindering efficient operations?
2. Evaluate Current Storage Methods and Determine Improvements
Using the list above, you can begin to measure the effectiveness of the procedures in your warehouse, as well as how those procedures could be bettered through the use of complementary equipment.
While this guide to meat industry storage focuses on such equipment, what good would that equipment be without operations tailored to them? What's more, employees unaware of industry best practices or not trained to eliminate meat warehousing inefficiencies will only create further problems — not solve the ones at hand.
Complete solutions in meat handling must start with the concerns above, then be paired with relevant tools and their storage and handling capabilities. Regardless of meat, poultry or seafood industry trends, tailoring equipment to processes is a guaranteed way to improve the overall productivity of your storage.
It's not a complicated set of measurements, but it is one that warehouse and meat storage managers must take into account before even considering new or updated equipment.
Meat, Poultry and Seafood Storage Equipment Guide
The following pieces of equipment are imperative in today's storage warehouses. As fundamental as they are functional, including them in your logistics will not only save you time and money — they get the complete set of meat warehousing jobs done right.
1. Stainless Steel Pallet Retrievers
Stainless steel pallet retrievers have two particular benefits for the meat, poultry and seafood industry: mobility and sanitation.
The meat and seafood industries must comply with the strict regulatory and compliance measures enacted by both OSHA and the FDA. Among them include product cross-contamination and hygiene rules on the handling, storage and packaging of meat, as well as what poultry, meat and seafood can come into contact with.
With stainless steel pallet retrievers, you can swiftly change pallets in a clean, contaminant-free manner. This much-need equipment also extends to removing and handling freezer spacers and combining loads, with different units containing various load bearings, tilting, rotating and stacking capabilities.
Without a fleet of pallet retrievers or changers, your warehouse production would slow dramatically due to inefficient and bottlenecked logistics. The majority of your warehouse labor would need to be solely dedicated to manually moving box after box or load after load of meat, probably relying on unsanctioned uses of forklifts or other equipment to do so. It would be laborious and highly unproductive, if not dangerous.
Pallets are already such a crucial piece of warehouse equipment, yet stainless steel pallet retrievers are truly an industry best practice. Any equipment guide worth its salt knows the merit of these machines, without which clean and efficient transportation operations would be rendered nearly impossible. A stainless steel makeup takes it to the next compliance level.
- PSR Pallet Retriever: The benefits of a PSR Pallet Retriever makes changing pallets and retrieving freezer spacers a breeze. It comes in a range of stock sizes, but each unit is outfitted with a panel and push-button controls, skate tables and more features to make pallet loading tasks stationary and straightforward.
- VBED Pallet Retriever: When industry warehouses need around-the-clock functionality, next-level pallet retrievers like the VBED Pallet Retriever make it possible. Meat, poultry and seafood storage get handled through a machine that can quickly pull freezer spacers and dividers in seconds. The VBED model can also accommodate double loads, making operations that much swifter.
- SR2 Pallet Retriever: Ideal for refrigerated and frozen warehousing, the SR2 Pallet Retriever series can insert and remove freezer spacers while tilting, separating layers and inserting new controls between pallet layers with the push of a button. The SR2 model is so productive, in fact, it can cut the labor and time necessary to arrange freezer spacers between pallets loaded with boxes by 95 percent — making the old days of manual insertions seem ridiculous.
Explore the complete catalog of stainless steel pallet retrievers perfect for meat warehousing, processing and storage. These machines are virtually built to enhance meat storage technology. They are a solution primed to trim inefficiencies and boost productivity on your floor. If you don't see the right retriever for you, reach out to us about our custom solutions.
2. Freezer Spacers and Plastic Pallets
When it comes to a seafood, meat or poultry storage equipment guide, the next essential item is none other than freezer spacers and plastic pallets themselves.
Top-of-the-line freezer spacers and plastic pallets team up to create optimal air circulation within seafood, meat and poultry storage warehouses. As mentioned before, air circulation is critical to the safety and nutrition of your stored meats, particularly with unwrapped, hanging cuts or heavily stacked items in denser coolers or freezers. Meats and seafood packaged in boxes or containers must always be raised above the ground, since most meat storage warehouses utilize blower coil cooling units that pull air from the floor up, distributing it through its cooling coils.
If floor space gets impeded, or if boxes and containers are stacked too tightly together, coil air distribution becomes inhibited. This sets off a chain of events that don't just lower the taste and quality of the meat — they encourage bacterial growth internally and externally, on the protein and in the air and moisture circulating around it.
For example, leaner red meats, such as venison or bison, and leaner poultry, such as turkey, have slightly higher water percentages than their fattier counterparts. While most meat and seafood storage freezers or refrigerators average around 70 percent humidity, facilities dedicated to the management of a specific kind of protein may adjust their humidity levels to encourage the utmost flavor and moisture preservation.
The placement and condition of freezer spacers and plastic pallets are essential to all this. With freezer spacers, warehouses configure containers to match exact air and moisture flows, keeping freezing rates even and spacing coordinated. With plastic pallets, warehouses get lighter weights yet stronger load durability, dimensional integrity and consistency, faster cleaning and sanitation, simpler stacking and reduction of contamination and heat-necessary treatments.
- Stackable Plastic Pallets: The skeleton of meat and seafood storage, stackable plastic pallets offer safe and static base storage for itemized inventory. Plastic pallets can be formed from new or recycled plastic, depending on manufacturing branding and preference, and are quickly becoming the industry standard over wood pallets.
- Rackable Plastic Pallets: Rackable plastic pallets are the next phase in contemporary stacking design and affordances. They're engineered to better distribute heavier loads with ribbed construction, one or two-layered piecing and edging types configured to loads and equipment. Rackable plastic pallets are strong enough to accommodate up to 3,000 lbs. of load weight.
- Nestable Plastic Pallets: True to their name, nestable plastic pallets are made for confined stacking and spatially limited warehouses. They are newer to the market and ensure you're utilizing every square inch of your storage capacities, without significant infrastructure overhaul or storage revamping.
Add the latest meat warehousing industry freezer spacers and plastic pallets to your equipment fleet, and watch the enhancement in floor procedures and product quality unfold. If you need help deciding which type is best for your warehouse, contact us to ensure you have the right plastic pallet.
3. Lift Tables
As the mechanical workhorses of the warehouse, it is almost unimaginable to run processing operations without a lineup of lift tables.
This piece of equipment has seen a lot of redesign in recent years, incorporating new technology and product features to enhance its mechanical functions and more mezzanine-floor plan storage. They are the ultimate ergonomic machine, as they make loading, unloading and positioning boxes and pallets much more streamlined. With a lift table, these tasks can be completed in a fraction of the time. Lift tables cut down on labor costs and performance times. Depending on your warehouse-storage capacity and type, a lift table of some kind should be included at every warehouse station, from docking and unloading to meat retrieval and even product packaging operations.
Yet while traditional tables have performed vertical lifts, more contemporary units and designs do this — and then some. Many models now feature 360-degree rotation capabilities or spring loaders that move up and down naturally according to their loaded weights. Other lift tables are fused with scissor-lift functions to raise warehouse workers and products above the floor level, or as part of a conveyor system with elevated work levels. Still, others are made for heavy duty floor-level pallet loading operations or are manufactured with modified materials and builds for specialty storage operations.
Stainless steel lift tables are ideal for meat handling. Like stainless steel pallet retrievers and other meat industry equipment, they are the most hygienic base material with the easiest cleaning and sanitation wash-downs. It will make your product removals, transportation and processing stations that much more compliant and easier to manage.
Other leading lift tables on the market for poultry, meat and seafood storage include:
- Level Loader Lift Tables: From spring-loaded and pneumatically charged to seamless mechanically operated, level loader lift tables are unique in their rotation capabilities. Level loaders can rotate a full 360 degrees with their turntable tops. This dramatically reduces your workers' need to bend, lift and twist while carrying heavy packaging.
- High Level Lift Tables: High level lift tables perform loading and unloading operations at heights no other table can. They are a traditional lift table combined with a scissor lift and offer a safer, more stable and more efficient way for warehouse employees to access top-shelf inventory or transport items between floors. Platform options come in a range of sizes, as do lift heights, weights and controls.
- Floor Level Lift Tables: Strong and durable, floor level lift tables are the ideal mechanical companions to pallet jacks and hand pallet trucks. Pallets can be rolled, loaded and stacked onto floor level lifts, which then raise loads to appropriate shelving or working heights for your employees. Floor level lift tables come in a variety of sizes, from industrial-grade units to low-profile lift tables made from stainless steel.
Lift tables are invaluable to the safety and efficiency of your key warehouse operations. See how your fleet of lift tables can be improved or expanded by contacting us today for a free quote.
The Value of Upgrading Your Meat, Poultry and Seafood Handling Equipment
In today's meat, poultry and seafood storage industries, it's no longer enough to put in minimal effort. Mediocre warehousing strategies and storage solutions will quickly fall behind global competition without the right equipment and work processes to scale up.
In fact, inefficient warehouse labor and out-of-date machinery are cited as the most expensive and problematic areas within the meat, poultry and seafood industry. In a 2017 survey conducted by The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI):
- 96 percent of manufacturers cited increasing their use and strategic adoption of automated equipment as the solution to these issues.
- 82 percent of these same manufacturers desired more sanitary and compliant-friendly machinery.
- Automatic retrieval and packaging equipment is projected to be the major emerging trend in the industry. This will be driven by consumer demand for ready-to-eat meats and seafood products made from more flexible packaging materials, as well as smaller-sized and single-portion protein products.
This data not only points to a growing emphasis on equipment within the poultry, meat and seafood industry but also to a need for that equipment to be easy to operate, compliant, clean and scalable to take on the projected growth effortlessly. Meat storage warehouses have many reasons to upgrade or expand their fleet of equipment:
- It's a smart investment. Up-front costs pale in comparison to the loss of revenue when outpaced by competitors, or when all current operational inefficiencies are tallied.
- It reduces labor costs. As cited by PMMI's 2017 study, meat warehousing manufacturers realize the effects of labor costs and need to find realistic, proactive solutions to stay competitive.
- It revamps control systems. Improving warehousing speed, accuracy and shipment turnaround is the goal of every warehouse manager. Yet how to realize these goals without losing quality and compliance control can be a tricky equation. Upgraded machinery is the game-changing variable.
- It improves production efficiency. What good is having equipment if it isn't working for the needs and concerns of your production models today? Gone are the days of simple storage shelves crammed with labeled products and an army of labor to find and ship it. To improve your bottom-line production, upgrading storage equipment is a must.
- It complements your overall business strategy. Short and long-term business goals cannot be met if production realities keep falling short. For your brand to grow and thrive, it needs a fleet of partially or fully upgraded units, large or small.
Trust Cherry's With Your Meat, Poultry and Seafood Warehousing Equipment Needs
The meat, poultry and seafood warehouses of today are complex and dynamic with everything from multi-leveled, mezzanine storage to cutting-edge refrigeration and freezer controls. You need equipment that gets the job done — and done right, time and time again.
Cherry's Industrial Equipment is here to help. We know that the meat industry is in the midst of evolution. Managers of small and mid-sized storage warehouses alike must juggle supply and demand, meet global and local regulations and run their businesses. We design all our machinery with three promises in mind:
- Ergonomically assist in fulfilling a needed task.
- Improve rate of productivity.
- Enhance a safe and sanitary environment.
Nothing unnecessary prevents you from solving real-time warehousing problems. Our product representatives are some of the best in the industry, working to ensure our equipment creates solutions tailored to you.
Explore our complete poultry, seafood and meat warehousing equipment catalog here, where you can find product information on industry lift tables, plastic pallets, freezer spacer and pallet retrieval systems, pallet inverters and much more.
Or reach out to us directly at 800-350-0011 to inquire about products and quotes, and fill out our online form for any additional needs and services.