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The company that helped to bring ice, and then refrigeration, to people in the United States, is continuing its drive toward cutting edge services and technology with an expanded warehouse and distribution hub in Warsaw, N.C. U.S. Cold Storage, founded in 1889 as the American Ice Company, a leader in refrigerated storage and logistics, has launched upon a $21.6 million project in Warsaw, bolstered through a $300,000 Building Reuse grant, offered through a program that is administered by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development team.
The plant’s expansion follows considerable growth of a heavy concentration of poultry, pork, chicken and turkey harvesting companies that call this region of North Carolina home, says Vice President Mid-Atlantic Region Jesse Hooks.
“United States Cold Storage is a leading logistics service provider to our state’s consumer foods industry, and this expansion has far-reaching benefits for Duplin County and beyond,” said Gov. Pat McCrory at the time the expansion was announced. “The continued growth and success of this 127-year-old company means good jobs for our economy.”
Historically, says Hooks, Warsaw has been a production facility; going forward, the company anticipates increasing its distribution capabilities. “When Phase III (of the expansion) is completed, the plant will be the East Coast distribution point adding logistics and distribution,” increasing the company’s capabilities in the process of order selection, Hooks says. In layman terms, the order selection process involves a racking configuration instead of filling a pallet, which streamlines the material handling and flow of product for employees.
On a daily basis Warsaw processes 1.75 million pounds of product per day. That storage and distribution volume is testament to U.S. Cold Storage’s ability to efficiently handle its customers’ needs. “Packaging arrives frozen or refrigerated. If frozen, we store frozen, if refrigerated, we treat and store it frozen and ship,” Hooks says. For example, sliced smoked turkey for Subway coming in at 28 degrees, is stored at 28 degrees and goes out to customers at 28 degrees. Consistency is key.
The company’s facility in Warsaw is one of three maintained in North Carolina and one of 36 locations across the United States that also handle food items such as butter, ice cream, cheese, yogurt and seafood. With 2,471 employees and a staggering 975,000 pallet positions, U.S. Cold Storage, without a doubt, can deliver the cold goods.
Frozen in History
In 1889, the company that became U.S. Cold Storage (USCS) emerged as The American Ice Company, at the infancy of the ice harvesting industry in the United States, when companies harvested ice from frozen lakes and rivers. As this method became unsafe due to pollution, American Ice moved forward with innovative refrigeration technology, changing its name to United States Cold Storage in 1920. Today, the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of John Swire & Sons, a global logistics provider headquartered in London, England, and its logistics network provides service to some of the country’s largest food producers.
Altogether, the company offers more than 240 million refrigerated cubic feet of warehouse handling and storage. Special features include specially racked storage rooms and enclosed refrigerated shipping/receiving docks to protect product against thermal abuse during the handling and staging.
In the area of storage, U.S. Cold Storage also offers:
- Freezer temperatures at 0° F or below;
- Ultra-Low temperatures range: -10° F to -20° F for ice cream and novelty cold foods;
- Refrigerated temperature range: from +28° F to +55° F;
- Ambient temperature for storage of dry goods;
- Blast Freezing: Tunnels and high velocity air movement to quickly remove heat from fresh product;
- Room Freezing and Chilling: In-room temperature reduction based upon customer specifications;
- Product Tempering: Increasing core product temperature according to customer specification.
For order assembly, U.S. Cold Storage will perform retrieval of full pallet or individual cases, single-case order picking, stretch wrapping and marking of pallets with shipping ID. There is also pallet module building, in which the company offers customized rainbow pallet assembly of specific products to accommodate special shipments.
On the Move
Warehouse and storage is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the range of services offered by U.S. Cold Storage. Customers would be stranded without the company’s transportation network and management programs.
Employing its Transportation Management System (USCS TMS®), the company offers nationwide shipment tracking, freight invoice auditing and payment services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This cutting-edge technology, at the forefront of transportation logistics, gives customers outbound freight consolidation (LTL shipping) services, truckload management programs, freight rate analysis, distribution network analysis and optimization, carrier management, appointment scheduling with shipping activities, carrier payment and interfaces with other USCS information systems.
In addition, the company can often match compatible product and destination requirements to consolidate truckloads for significant customer savings and offers one of the largest, most flexible, reliable consolidation programs in the Public Refrigerated Warehouse (PRW) industry. Shuttle services are also available from manufacturing locations to USCS distribution centers. This enables customers to partner with one company for transportation and warehousing, making the transportation network easier and more efficient.
Want to further improve the distribution network? Having proprietary software doesn’t hurt. USCS also employs supply chain network modeling services, which help determine the ideal network for a company’s needs. This proprietary software program analyzes customer specific information, such as delivery timing, carrier rates, mileage, and production facility location. Then it adds USCS warehouse locations, current freight consolidation routes and rates. The upshot is that customers can locate distribution centers, reduce the number of warehouses used, reduce transportation costs and optimize order flow.
Other technologies, such as the company’s Voice-Directed Warehouse Management System, ensures that employees can efficiently locate, select and build complex, Multi-SKU orders.
Given all this, would anyone mind the cold shoulder from U.S. Cold Storage? Absolutely not, especially when it comes with a guarantee of consistent service and technologies throughout the company’s national network.
“Our goal every day,” Hooks says, “is to respond to customers’ requests. We view customers as partners; if their needs change for their customers we accommodate that. We’re always looking for opportunities to drive efficiency, to let our customers focus on manufacturing their products, and to let us deal with the storage and distribution.”