Cold Storage Construction Considerations

DESIGN-BUILD SOLUTIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL COLD STORAGE CONSTRUCTION

As one of the nation's largest builders of cold storage warehouses, ARCO is expertly capable of providing the best, most cost-effective solutions for customers' cold storage design and construction needs. From distribution centers to processing facilities, ARCO knows the key components that need to be explored in the early stages of planning to ensure the most functional and cost-effective freezer/cooler facility.

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ARCO’s design-build delivery method provides customers with go to contract pricing based on in-house preliminary design at no cost. Contact us today for more information: [email protected]

PARTNERING WITH THE RIGHT COLD STORAGE CONTRACTOR

From the boom of sectors requiring temperature-controlled space, such as e-grocery and meal delivery services, to the continued growth of the U.S. population and consumer preference shifts, demand for cold storage space is on the rise. With more perishable items moving through the supply chain, the need for strategically placed cold storage warehouse facilities in markets across the country, especially those with aging assets, continues to grow.

As owners and cold storage users look to bring new facilities online or renovate existing spaces, it is critical to partner with an experienced contractor as cold storage warehouses require highly unique and specialized design and construction components compared to typical dry warehouses. Understanding the crucial elements of these specialized facilities such as wall types, refrigeration systems, underfloor heating, vapor barriers, temperature requirements, and more is highly critical to successful development.

COLD STORAGE PROJECT TYPES

BUILD-TO-SUIT FOOD DISTRIBUTION
BUILD-TO-SUIT FOOD PROCESSING
COLD 3PL/PUBLIC REFRIGERATED WAREHOUSE
SPECULATIVE COLD STORAGE
RETROFITS/RENOVATIONS
EXPANSIONS

COLD STORAGE CONSTRUCTION & WALL TYPES

Selection of construction type plays an important role in how a cold storage facility is cooled. New construction cold storage facilities can be built with insulated concrete (tilt-up or precast), insulated metal panels, or a combination of the two. An existing dry warehouse can be converted to freezer/cooler space through installation of insulated metal panels inside existing walls.

INSULATED CONCRETE
INSULATED METAL PANEL (IMP)
BOX-IN-A-BOX

TEMPERATURE CONTROL & REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS

The choice of refrigeration and its supporting infrastructure plays a critical role in the success of a project now and in the future. Selection of the most appropriate building type and refrigeration system is unique to every project. Decades of experience designing and building cold storage facilities have given us an exceptional ability to determine the best solution to maintain the proper temperature-controlled storage for a variety of fresh and frozen products.

Refrigeration system options include:

  • Ammonia
  • Freon
  • Conventional Air Conditioning
  • Commercial Splits
  • CO2

STANDARD TEMPERATURES

Temperature-controlled space within a cold storage facility must be designed and built to accommodate the specific product types that are being stored, processed, and/or distributed. For 3PL or public refrigerated warehouse facilities, incorporating convertible freezer/cooler space capable of accommodating a wide range of temperature requirements is important to increase marketability for tenants and users.

Having designed and built cold storage facilities for a variety of end-users, as well as 3PL and developer clients, ARCO can offer guidance in the design stage of a project when it comes to the proper freezer/cooler temperature standards.

*Below is not an exhaustive list of all temperature standards

Pictured Above: 91,800 SF foodservice distribution facility expansion with a 52,300 SF 72°F candy cooler for DOT Foods in Mt. Sterling, Illinois

Conditioned:

  • Beer Warehouse: 60°F-70°F
  • Chocolate (Humidity Controlled): 60°F
  • Candy: 72°F
  • Pharmaceutical Warehouse: 59°F-77°F

Cooler:

  • Cooler: 34°F-36°F
  • Cold Dock: 38°F-45°F
  • Draught Cooler: 28°F
  • Produce Cooler: 34°F-40°F, 45°F, 55°F
  • Pharmaceutical Cooler: 35°F-46°F

Freezer:

  • Basic Standard Freezer: 0°F
  • Standard Freezer: -10°F
  • Ice Cream Freezer: -20°F
  • Meat Cooler (Freezer): 28°F

VAPOR BARRIERS

When it comes to cold storage facilities, ensuring proper insulation and a tight vapor barrier is critical. Lack of proper thermal insulation and vapor barrier detailing will result in condensation. Vapor barriers need to be airtight, not just watertight. Even a small amount of air leakage into the cold environment results in moisture with potential to condense or create ice in a cold space.

UNDERFLOOR HEATING

Extreme cold from a freezer can penetrate through the concrete floor past the insulation and into the soil causing moisture within the soil to freeze. Frost can then form in the subgrade soils potentially resulting in floor heaving and cracking and significant structural damage.

Choosing a proper underfloor heating system for a cold storage facility is crucial as soil underneath a freezer floor must be heated to ensure it remains above freezing temperatures to avoid potential damage.

VENT TUBES
GLYCOL
SELF-REGULATING HEAT CABLE

DESIGN FLEXIBILITY & AUTOMATION

As labor shortages continue, many food and beverage companies are looking to incorporate automation capabilities, such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or “Perfect Pick” systems, into their cold storage facilities. While a facility can almost always be adjusted later for automation integration, there are many advantages to incorporating the possibility into a facility’s design whether it is a new build or renovation project. For example, making accommodations for floor slab capacity, rebar placement, and flatness tolerances should all be considered when potentially incorporating AGV use. Oftentimes, adjusting the initial design for construction is a more cost-effective option to avoid extra expenses by having a specific layout and plan for automation in place. A flexible design can also help limit operational interruptions when renovating an existing facility.

Pictured Above: 324,564 SF foodservice distribution facility renovation for Performance Food Group/Vistar in Reno, Nevada, featuring four OPEX “Perfect Pick” automated picking system bays

SITE SELECTION

In addition to increased demand, there has been a push to move perishable products through the cold chain at speeds quicker than ever before. Because of this, locations that offer not only easy access to transportation infrastructure capable of reaching a large customer base but also proximity to raw materials, packaging, and labor are highly sought after. While existing cold storage assets are primarily located within the core of highly populated regions, new developments are moving further and further away from urban areas due to continually increasing land costs.

Additionally, increased competition for prime site locations is making challenging sites the new norm. ARCO’s site feasibility services empower clients to select the very best site for their facility. By providing site-specific cost information prior to construction, ARCO helps clients make decisions with full knowledge of their impact on cost and schedule.

Pictured Above: 200,275 SF beverage distribution facility for Scannell Properties and Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England in S. Windsor, Connecticut. ARCO value-engineered the site design during the preconstruction phase, decreasing overall project cost while providing the most efficient layout and cost-effective solution. 

THE ARCO ADVANTAGE

ARCO’s project delivery method combines quality of design and construction, management of capital expense, and adherence to schedule into a single point of responsibility. As a result, our customers reap the benefit of total integration. Our team of design-build construction experts effectively gains an understanding of each client’s business and analyzes the key components to reduce exposure and provide the best value to clients.

Additionally, ARCO’s design-build approach is unique in that we offer preliminary design at no cost to our customers to remove the risk of substantial upfront expense.

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DELIVERY
33% faster overall delivery
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SPEED
12% faster construction
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BUDGET
6% less total cost

With more than 300 projects totaling more than 40 million square feet completed for our food and beverage clientele, ARCO can take on even the most challenging projects. In an industry where expertise is essential, we are proud to be a trusted advisor of some of the biggest names in the business.

Contact ARCO to learn more about how we can provide creative solutions and alternatives to make your food manufacturing and processing construction project feasible, regardless of complexity or scale.

READY TO EXPERIENCE A BETTER WAY TO BUILD? 

MORE COLD STORAGE RESOURCES & PROJECTS FROM ARCO

5 Facts About Speculative Cold Storage Development

Despite the challenges, by outfitting traditional warehouses with upgraded features to support temperature-controlled space, speculative development is becoming an advantageous way for investors to capitalize on the rapidly growing demand for cold storage facilities.

ARCO Completes New Supply Chain Center and Processing Facility for Raving Fan Domino’s Pizza

ARCO recently completed a 59,832 SF food processing and distribution facility for Domino's Pizza in Katy, Texas! The state-of-the-art supply chain center features automated technology including ingredient batching, mixing and portioning, weight adjustment, tray stacking, and spiral coolers, which is capable of producing up to 40 million pounds of dough annually.

Design-Build Retrofit & Renovation Solutions

By choosing to retrofit an existing facility, owners can reap the benefits of design-build, firm lump sum construction pricing regardless of market volatility. ARCO is able to complete preliminary design during the proposal process, and the owner benefits now more than ever from the speed at which design-build delivery moves.

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