Malaysia's Cold Chain Industry Guide


9 Factors That Affect A Cold Room / Cold Storage Set Up Cost

Cold Room And Cold Truck Related Services March 7, 2022


Cold Chain Logistic Cold Chain Management Cold Room Food and Beverage Food Supply Chain Refrigeration Equipment

Quick Read : 

There is a greater need than ever for cold storage facilities. As we enter an endemic era, consumer market, product integrity and freshness are in high demand. This generation of buyers prefers healthier, fresher, and higher-quality products with a shorter shelf life, which necessitates an efficient distribution network to serve them.

According to a September report, food sales have increased by nearly 85% in the last year, necessitating not only more cold storage space but also facilities closer to population centres.Cold storage facilities appear to be large, simple boxes from the outside. However, this is not the case; in order to achieve significant operational cost savings, they require advanced, detailed analysis during the design phase.

A cold storage facility is built around the type of product that will be stored and how long it will be stored on the shelves. However, as technologies and techniques for increasing efficiency have changed, the design of cold storage warehouses has become more complex.

Here are 9 factors that affect a cold room cost that you should consider before setting one up.

  • Items to be stored
  • Storage capacity for different items
  • Type of compressors to be used
  • Type of insulation building material and thickness of insulation used
  • Period for items stored
  • Product temperature at time of entering cold storage
  • Cold Room Biggest Challenge: Heat
  • Condensation Issue 
  • Type of Refrigerant-System 

Fun Fact #

There are 23% - 24% difference in price between setting up a normal or controleed atmosphere. 

1. Items to be stored

It is important to know what you are planning to store because it determines the type of refrigerator and the refrigeration temperature. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables storehouse temperature is generally 0-10 °C and frozen meat food temperature is generally 0-18 °C or so. Because of the various refrigeration equipment used, the demand for refrigeration temperature varies, as does the price.


2. Storage capacity for different items

In general, the larger the cold storage, the more materials and technology are required. Sometimes the cost of a small cold storage unit is the same as the cost of some equipment. As a result, the larger the cold storage, the more expensive it is; however, the larger the cold storage, the less cheap it can be! More rooms in the storage also means more costing too.


3. Type of compressors to be used

Some people refer to the compressor as the core of the cold storage, which is correct because whether the compressor is good or bad reciprocating or rotary, has a direct impact on the cold storage operation and cooling effect, and the price difference between different brands has an impact on the cold storage project costs.


4. Type of insulation building material and thickness of insulation used

The basic construction of a cold storage is similar to that of other rooms, with the exception of the need for insulation in cold storages. Insulating materials are those with extremely low thermal conductivities, such as polystyrene (PS) panel, Polyurethane (PUR)/Polyisocyanurate (PIR) panel, Rockwool panel, Glass Wool panel and others. The insulation material used varies depending on the type of insulating material used and the thickness of insulation required; panel thicknesses range from 25mm to 300mm on the market. As a result, the cost of a cold room is affected by the type of insulated building material used and its thickness.


5. Period for items stored

Short-term or temporary storage is typically associated with retail establishments such as supermarkets, where product turnover is expected to be rapid. The storage period can range from 1 to 15 days depending on the product. Long-term storage is frequently associated with large-scale cold storage facilities. The storage period is determined by the type of product as well as the condition of the product when it is brought into cold storage. 


6. Product temperature at time of entering cold storage

Products entering the cold room freeze condition will consume less energy, and the temperature between the transitions will require less 'freezing' time. Items entering a cold room with ambient temperature, on the other hand, will require more energy to cool down to the required temperature. This indicates that more chilling or freezing time is required. 

To maintain the required storage temperature in the cold storage, the capacity of the refrigeration plant for the cold storage must be selected. Under capacity, the plant may load to a higher cold storage temperature than required, whereas over capacity may result in a higher initial cost of the refrigeration system.


7. Cold Room Biggest Challenge: Heat

There are 2 major operation actions that can lead to hot air.

  • Loading, Unloading Speed and Frequency  

The cold store dock and dock facilities serve as the link between the cold chain logistics systems outside and inside the store. The time required for all loading and unloading operations is determined by the type, organisation, and size of the dock.

Longer loading times allow for more heat to enter the cold chain warehouse. The same is true for loading frequency. When heat enters cold chain facilities, electricity costs increase because refrigeration must run longer to return the cold chain facilities to the required temperature.

  • Excessive heat exposure

Sometimes the issue arises before the temperature-sensitive item reaches the freezer or cooler. Prolonged exposure to warm outside temperatures during loading and unloading is a common issue that can cause temperature-sensitive foods, pharmaceuticals, and other goods to degrade.


8. Condensation Issue 

In reference to Point 7, condensation can occur when heat is introduced into a cold chain. It will be an additional cost that may be incurred in the cost of a cold room, particularly in Malaysia's weather which is hot and humid. As a result, anyone considering constructing a cold room in Malaysia should take this issue seriously. In the long run, it affects operation when the floor becomes wet and slippery, and it may also cause ice to form on the floor and doors.


9. Type of Refrigerant-System 

​​The refrigeration system will result from the refrigerant type selection. The cost of investing in a refrigeration system varies.

Last time, fluorocarbons (chlorofluorocarbons) were used as refrigerants but were eliminated due to their harmful effects on the environment. Hence, today one of the best and environmentally-friendly refrigerants is actually carbon dioxide. It is important to take note before selecting your refrigerants to carefully evaluate from the various points of view, whether it affects the environment, energy productivity, wellbeing and ultimately, cost.

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