How to choose the right plastic shelving for your cold room?

Customer: "Could I be honest with you, I have never bought plastic shelving for my cold rooms before. In any kitchens that I haved worked in, cold room shelving has always been there and I don't know how to go about choosing the right plastic or metal shelving".

Me: "I totally understand and you are not alone to feel a little concerned about a possible purchase of cold room shelving."

Everything that you do within your walk in Cold Room / Freezer must be in accordance with and recorded in your Haccp Plan. So that your health officer is comfortable that you are on top of your HACCP responsibility within your kitchen.

Here are a number of questions that you will need to answer yourself and how relevant are they in your world?

  1. What type and how much product will you store in your cold room or freezer each week?

Eh dunno is the usual answer that I get.

Catering is a numbers business, you order in numbers i.e. units, litres or kilos, so getting these numbers should be relatively easy. Take into consideration your order pattern, the amount of each product ordered and the shelf life of that product, we can then help you to work out the volume that is need to store that specific product.

These numbers will then help you to design the plastic shelving that is needed for the perfect layout for your cold room / storage area. The last thing you would want is put shelving on three walls and product still end up on the floor.

2. Where will you allocate each product in your cold room? Will you create different HACCP Risk Zones for each product?

There are many allocations that you can use, you could consider the following. (a) Locate the most used product near the door for easy access (b) locate product to a particular height to help with manual handling (c) locate product to particular area to help prevent cross contamination i.e. raw on the bottom shelf and cooked on higher shelves thus creating haccp risk zones. Top Tip: Creating various zones with signage i.e. Raw - Red, Cooked - Yellow, Green - Veg etc in your cold room in a real winner with the Health Officer.

3. Will your choosen design layout for the required amount of product to be stored, be scalable for future growth?

Predicting the future is tough one. By choosing the right plastic cold room shelving now, it will help you prevent reconfiguration problems in the future. If your storage requirements double in 5 years due to the increase in business or the suppliers deciding to change the sizes of boxes, your plastic shelving must be able to adapt. This potential headache is something we can help you with.

How many staff will clean the cold rooms and how long will it take?

As we can all agree, man hours can one of the biggest costs in any kitchen. Staff being productive can be very hard to monitor and can get out of control with staff not carry their weight. For example, how long does it take to clean a typical cold room, Two hours ( which is not uncommon) @ €15.00 p/hr = €30.00 p/w, which equals to €1,560 per annum and if you have mulitple cold rooms, could the cost be greater? We can show you how to reduce the amount to €780.00 per annum.

4. Is the quality of the clean important to you?

Nobody will clean your cold room as well as you can because they don't care. Your personal high standards and more importantly the Health Officer's critical eye can add conflict in a pressurised environment. Walk in Coldroom and freezer are busy and messy environments, so it is important to choose the right plastic cold room shelving that easily cleanable but more importantly allows staff to easily clean the walls and floors of the cold rooms. So when you do your weekly cleaning audit you and the staff are happy because you have the right tools to do the cleaning job properly.

5. Will you require the shelving / trolleys to store heavy weights and what manual handling practice will you employ?

In the litigeous world that we live in, best practice in manual handling is a must. "Oh I can't do that!, it is too heavy!".

You may look at the staff member sideways and utter to yourself " are you swinging the lead?"

Food produce can be deceptively heavy, staff can over fill product into a container. Raw meat is notoriously heavy and is usually stored in containers with very poor hand grips which can result in the container slipping on to the staff members foot.

Along with Raw Meats and Dairy Product, Boxed French Fries can be quiet heavy, these products can be double stacked on the shelf resulting continous heavy pressure coming to bear on each shelf. This continuous pressure is never ending, 24 hours a day on your shelving units, so it is wise to consider the quality of the shelving that you are purchasing. Does the shelving that you are considering have weight load certification? Would this requirement be relevant in your world?

Have you taken into consideration from a manual handling perspective, where you will store the heaviest product on the shelving unit? Tip....product stored on shelves at waist height, staff can safely carry 20kgs.

6. How much does your cold room / freezer cost you each week?

The daily cost of powering your cold rooms by electricity is enormous, you reduce this cost by having properly maintained refrigeration units.

Another hidden cost to a kitchen is the cost of building rent / mortgage. This translates into the cost per meter for the whole business. Your cold rooms take up space and incur the rent / mortgage cost. This cost is paid every month without fail, so would it be wise to get the maximum return of this cost / investment?

If you cold room is 9 meters square and your rent is €40 per sq meter per year, you cost is €360.00 per year mulitplied the number of cold rooms. So would it be wise to use every spare centimeter for storage, is the space in the middle of the cold room being put to its best use?

I know, any savings on the above figures you may not see in reduced payroll but you will certainly see reduced pressure to create additional hourly labour costs in your kitchen.

If you would like to avail our Cold Room Storage Audit, please call 01 6234999.