Preventing problems in the warehouse due to summer heat
High temperatures in summer can lead to a variety of serious problems in a warehouse, but these can be prevented. Both high temperatures and humidity can destroy stored goods such as food and medicines, harm the health of warehouse staff and drive up electricity bills significantly. Impaired or even destroyed goods in turn lead to further problems. Should the goods be delivered, customer satisfaction justifiably drops. However, impaired goods can also lead to delivery problems if it is realised too late that the items are unusable.
There are many ways to influence the temperature and humidity in the warehouse, especially during summer heat. In simple warehouses, depending on the stored goods, doors with fly screens can simply be installed for better ventilation. Other solutions include the use of larger industrial ceiling fans or even air conditioning systems. In addition, the warehouse should also be well insulated. In cold storage and air-conditioned warehouses for perishable foodstuffs (1) and medicines (2), strict monitoring of the climate, i.e. temperature and humidity, is absolutely necessary. Even in warehouses with modern air-conditioning technology, temperature zones can vary by a few degrees. High temperatures and high humidity or fluctuations in the parameters can cause food to spoil and the chemical structure of medicines to change. As a result, the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals can be lost or toxic by-products can even cause harm to patients. The limits for the parameters depend strongly on the individual products. Monitoring (measurement) and control elements must be integrated for control. For the measurement, monitoring and documentation of environmental influences such as temperature and humidity, for example, the data loggers (with sensors and memory) from the manufacturer Tec4Med can be used. A SmartHub acts as a gateway for beacons (data loggers with sensors) to automatically collect data and transfer it to a cloud software. The acquired data can be displayed in the browser or also in an app. The data loggers with memory and sensors can be installed at various locations in the warehouse or on boxes, pallets, containers or trucks. To guarantee GDP- or HACCP-compliant shipping of temperature-sensitive goods, the SmartHub can also be used there. This makes it easy to display the temperature and monitor important parameters everywhere.
Ergonomic workplaces are not only desirable, they are now also legally required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) and the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV) (4). Heat in the workplace can severely impair the well-being of employees and even lead to heat exhaustion. According to the ArbSchG, the employer must design workplaces, the workplace and working environment conditions in such a way that occupational accidents and work-related illnesses are prevented and safety at the workplace is increased. In addition, the employer is obliged to design work (§§ 2, 3 ArbSchG) and work processes in a humane manner. In the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV), which was comprehensively amended in 2016, ergonomics is now also mentioned literally. The employer must implement the measures according to ArbStättV § 3 paragraph 1 and take ergonomic requirements into account when designing the workplace in addition to modern technical solutions, hygiene, occupational medicine.
Of course, the cooling system should be checked and maintained frequently. Here, too, monitoring of the operating parameters as well as temperature displays and an alarm system in case of deviations are strongly recommended. To prevent power outages, the warehouse must have backup generators so that goods are not damaged. Refrigeration units such as industrial freezers should be located away from poorly insulated areas of the building.
The air conditioning of warehouses and the cooling units of refrigerated warehouses require a lot of electricity, especially in summer. However, there are ways to reduce electricity consumption. When building cold storage facilities, it is essential to think about cold locks for the delivery of goods. In addition, frequent door and gate opening should be avoided. Of course, the warehouse building must be insulated all around so that less heat enters the cooled or air-conditioned warehouse. The roof of a warehouse can heat up extremely in summer, so a light-coloured or reflective roof is recommended. A sprinkler system or green roof (5) can also help to reduce the temperatures on the roof. The effect can also be increased by shady trees in the vicinity of the warehouse. Heat storage systems with photovoltaics can reduce peak electricity demand in cold storage warehouses by up to 90 percent and thus lead to enormous electricity savings. According to PV Magazine, the technology allows "photovoltaic-generated energy to be stored and used in cold storage facilities to delay energy use and reduce energy costs"(6).
To reduce the temperature in the work areas for employees, it is a good idea to combine the use of air conditioning with dehumidifiers. This increases the cost efficiency of air conditioning. Lowering humidity can significantly reduce the perceived temperature.
Existing overstocks of stored goods should definitely be reduced. The less stock that needs to be refrigerated, the better. However, the storage buffer levels must of course be maintained so that the ability to deliver is still preserved. In air-conditioned warehouses, only products that can withstand the real climate conditions of the hall in summer should be stored. Thermo-labels (temperature indicator labels) are also suitable for temperature monitoring. At a certain limit temperature, these labels change colour. On the other hand, labels should be used that can withstand higher temperatures in warehouses. Thermal transfer labels with a coating of polypropylene, polyester or polyamide are often used for this purpose. Another possibility are surface-coated direct thermal labels. For storage, it is essential to use temperature-resistant storage boxes, e.g. made of plastic. BITO offers an extensive range of corresponding plastic containers that are also suitable for transport.
1 BITO Fachwissen, So lagern Sie Lebensmittel richtig: Hygienische Nahrungsmittel- und Kühllager, Link
2 BITO technical article, Structure and special features of pharmaceutical warehouses, Link
3 Tec4Med, Temperature monitoring of the warehouse as a service, Link
4 BITO Expertise, Ergonomics and Occupational Safety in the Warehouse, Link
5 Green roofs the natural air conditioning system for your building, Fornatec GmbH, Link
6 Energy management and heat storage for cooling with solar power presented, PV Magazin, Link