Originally posted on January 29, 2019, updated on August 13, 2019, content adapted from original NFPA Journal article found here.
The Cold Storage Construction Demand
The demand for cold storage construction is booming. According to the Morning Call, the leading media company in the Lehigh Valley (home to Victaulic World Headquarters), developers submitted plans for 11.7 million square feet of warehouses over the course of the last two years. Chris Kvistad, VicFlex™ Product Manager at Victaulic adds, ‘according to Intelligent Energy Europe there are 60-70 million cubic meters of cold storage space across Europe, and 24 million cubic meters in the UK, according to Global Cold Chain News’.
With the rise of online shopping, the cold storage construction demand continues to increase. According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), an American Food Marketing organization that provides comprehensive resources for the food, pharmacy and grocery retail industry, online grocery sales are expected to rise from three percent in 2017 to 13 by 2024. The United States Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE) argues the demand for as much as 35 million square feet of cold storage space will shift from retail stores to distribution centers.
The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial company that provides leading insight and analysis about stock, helping investors stay informed, estimates there are more than 80 million people with Amazon Prime. With this information, Amazon is better able to predict what its customers want, how much of it and when. Since the acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon can better understand its customers grocery buying habits and better tailor grocery shopping to the individual. Since Amazon has procured more than 460 centers with cold storage, it has put temperature-controlled distribution centers within ten miles of approximately 95 percent of prime members.
How is Fire Protection Effected by the Booming Cold Storage Construction Demands?
There are many challenges with fire protection systems installed in refrigerated warehouses. The main cause of fires in cold storage facilities are High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting, commonly found in warehouses. This type of lighting is responsible for 12 percent of warehouse fires; equipment necessary in cold storage is combustible and ammonia-based refrigeration equipment commonly used within refrigerated warehouses – in concentrations of 15-28 percent – is flammable.
Another key issue preventing superior protection is seal integrity, comprised by differential movement; space for install and service, torque, and corrosion associated with threaded sprinklers and black pipe. The speed at which warehouses are being built or retrofitted is another challenge when installing fire protection solutions. The speed of installation needs to match the speed at which the cold storage construction demand is growing, while remaining safe and practical.
The Future of Cold Storage Construction is Now
Like Amazon, understanding the wants and needs of the customer is important to Victaulic. That’s why Victaulic’s solution to the booming cold storage construction demand was theVicFlex Style AB6 Bracket – available for cold storage applications. It eliminates guesswork, combats differential movement, allows for one-person installation, and is flexible, adjustable and adaptable. Offering confidence, speed, and performance, everyone wins.
Tim Voller, from Breth-Zensen Fire Protection and a Victaulic customer, estimates with the new VicFlexStyle AB6 Bracket up to 20-25 dry cooler heads can be installed in an hour, compared to two dry cooler heads installed by two laborers’ in one hour.
The key benefits to utilizing the VicFlex Style AB6 Bracket include:
- Adjusts to any ceiling or wall thickness
- Industry-leading seal integrity stays intact, protecting against condensation with a simple, one-person installation from above the cooler
- Easy indication of vertical and frame arm alignment from above
- No measuring, cutting or multiple trips to the cooler
- Combats differential movement due to vibration or physical stress on the cooler
- Eliminates foam or glue curing time and condensation concerns
- Fits any ceiling or wall thickness while sealing to a variety of surfaces such as corrugated or dimpled
- Interchangeable escutcheons facilitate same-day retrofit and service work while consolidating the amount of sku’s to order and stock