Freezing temperatures can be tough on technology, so when freezing temperatures are such a big part of your business model, adapting your technology becomes a high priority.
I was reminded of this because we spent time recalibrating and servicing our RF “guns,” the handheld scanners we use every day to keep track of our inventory. These little scanners connect to our database and give us a snapshot of what happens at Adams Cold Storage on any given day. It tells us which products need to be moved, which products need to be readied for shipment and which products are doing just fine where they are.
But here’s the thing: Each one of these RF guns comes with a built-in heater. They need one or the cold temperatures would wreak havoc on their ability to function. Adding a heater to an RF gun is the adaptation that makes the technology work in our environment.
In the evolution of the cold storage industry, most facilities built before 1990 tended to be short — about 25-feet tall. When we built our new facility, it was 50-feet tall, which meant we can store nearly twice as many pallets while using the same footprint.
To overcome the height difference, we now use turret trucks that can take the operator directly to the inventory, and the order can be hand-picked. This is a manpower- and time-saving advantage: Instead of removing full pallets, taking what is needed, and then putting the pallet back, the turret truck takes the operator to the pallet.
But even the turret truck needs adapting. OSHA regulations require us to recharge these machines outside of the refrigerated facility where the air circulates. So, after two to three hours inside the freezer facility, they’re brought into the warm Florida sun to recharge. It’s not unusual to see them turn white with ice, then thaw out with water and steam.
You can imagine what this hot and cold, expansion and contraction does to the rubber hoses, the tires, the motherboards and all the little mechanical tidbits. Needless to say, we’ve built the service guy his own little corner of the facility. He is our adapter.
As we enter into the New Year, some of us probably feel like we’re in a holding pattern. Nothing much has seemingly changed and it could be easy to think that nothing ever will. This is when we need to remember that adaptation could be the way to help us through.