Coloma Frozen Foods needed to consolidate its frozen storage capacity. As a provider of quality frozen fruits, vegetables, juices and cherry juice concentrates, the company had previously outsourced frozen storage or leased it from four commercial facilities spread out over a 20-mile radius in southwest Michigan.

“Transferring product between four inter-company locations for production, frozen storage and repacking was costly and inefficient,” says Brad Wendzel, president of Coloma Frozen Foods.  “One of the leased freezer facilities had aged beyond its useful life, and much of the racking was too low, resulting in inefficient pallet unstacking and restacking before shipping.”

To optimize its growth and logistics, the processor chose to build 90,000 sq. ft. of new freezer space, including 75,000 sq. ft. of racked freezer space in a new, centralized campus facility. Looking to maximize frozen storage efficiency and repacking capability, Wendzel turned to Southwest Docking and Handling, a material handling and automated systems distributor, and Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer.

The companies suggested drive-in rack for its cost-effective, high-density storage capacity; it requires fewer aisles and provides better cube utilization than selective rack. Drive-in rack enables storing up to 75 percent more pallets than selective rack and is ideal for high-traffic and cooler/freezer installations.

“We expect to save about $150,000 to $200,000 a year in reduced labor, management, transportation, energy and maintenance costs using drive-in rack at our campus facility,” says Wendzel. “Our growth potential is substantial, and we expect ROI in under two years.”

Forklifts drive directly into the drive-in rack to store pallets two or more deep. But because the forklifts drive directly into the rack, it tends to take more abuse than other rack structures. “In freezer applications, the rack is susceptible to forklift impact because reaction time is slower in a cold environment, and peripheral vision can be restricted when operators are bundled up against the cold,” explains Wendzel.

Southwest Docking and Handling recommended and Coloma Frozen Foods chose Steel King SK3000 rugged, bolted pallet rack. Constructed of hot-rolled structural channel columns with full horizontal and diagonal bracing, the pallet rack offers greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional area than typical rack.

“Over 23 million pounds of frozen product are stored in Coloma Frozen Foods’ freezer and rack space, including 9,000 pallet positions of 4-inch structural c-channel drive-in rack,” says Wendzel. “The rack is five levels high, including a floor level, and arrayed from two to five pallet positions deep for storage efficiency and to accommodate a range of SKUs.”

“With the drive-in rack’s efficient frozen storage, we’ve consolidated our operations on one campus and aim to double our repack capability,” says Wendzel. “The interest and amortization of our new facility are less than what we paid for commercial storage.”

For more information: Kelly Kubisiak, 800-826-0203,