KPS Global® has launched a new innovative solution for loading and accessing perishable goods: Accessible Cold Environments (ACE)™.
This groundbreaking technology is the first open front refrigerated solution to hold product temperature below 40°F all the way to the floor without using glass or solid doors to keep heat out of the space.
“Picture the ACE™ unit as a three-sided walk-in,” said Anand Kulkarni, senior vice president of operations at KPS Global. “The technical elements required for this unit to operate were developed by a team that thinks outside the box to drive innovation in our industry.”
A Solution for Increasing eCommerce Demand
ACE™ was developed from a need for an easily accessible, open front, bulk storage space that could hold fast moving or bulk refrigerated products for online grocery fulfillment.
2020 changed the world for everyone, but it was especially impactful to grocery retailers. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, shoppers no longer wanted to shop in stores as common touch points such as glass door handles on refrigerated cases, shopping carts and credit card payment machines became avenues for spreading germs. At the same time, demand for essential items increased as the population stock-piled food and drink in anticipation of lockdowns. Grocers were forced to develop shopping fulfillment solutions that ensured public safety.
The result was an incredibly fast movement toward eCommerce solutions, with shoppers buying items online for curbside pickup or home delivery. In just one year, U.S. online grocery sales grew over three times to $106 billion and are projected to hit $250 billion by 2025. These online grocery orders include perishable products that must be picked by store employees and then stored at required temperatures to preserve the products until they are ready for delivery to the customer.
Suddenly, the timeline was drastically shortened and the urgency to meet increasing eCommerce demand significantly increased. Grocers needed to improve eCommerce operations with a focus on efficiency while also keeping their employees safe with minimal common touch points.
KPS Global was able to offer a solution for backroom environments for Online Grocery Pickup (OGP) by fast-tracking a refrigeration unit that was already under development: the ACE unit, a walk-in with no doors that maintains two separate temperature zones between its shelf and pallet areas for bulk and high-volume items.
A New Kind of Cold: How ACE™ Works
The ACE unit is an easily accessible, open front, bulk storage space that holds refrigerated products.
One of the unique features of the ACE unit is its dual temperature zones. These zones are valuable because they enable packaged and bulk products to be kept at different temperatures within the same unit. The shelf zone can maintain a temperature range from 32°F to 34°F and the pallet zone can maintain temperatures between 34°F and 38°F.
The ACE unit is able to maintain the dual temperature zones because of its patent-pending triple air curtain that restricts outside air from entering the product areas, enabling it to maintain dual temperatures while providing easy access to refrigerated bulk items.
The first air curtain entrains outside air within its airstream, pushing it down to the floor beneath the product zone. It is then recirculated back to the first air curtain. The second air curtain is refrigerated and bathes the front of the product on both the shelf and pallets. The third air curtain is also refrigerated and bathes the top and rear of the product on both the shelf and the pallets.
Another unique feature is the vertical lift system, which utilizes spring tension to make lifting very easy. This system allows full pallets of product to be loaded and unloaded into the chilled environment, eliminates the need for breaking down product to stock shelves, and reduces labor costs.
The unit is manufactured in the U.S. and arrives onsite in a plug-and-play design, limiting disruption to store operations.
What Applications Can ACE™ Work In?
The ACE unit is a great option for improving labor efficiencies and reducing pick times for eCommerce or OGP programs where additional storage of bulk refrigerated products is needed. Other potential applications include pharmaceutical or 3PL.
For more information about KPS Global’s newest innovation, contact the cold storage experts at [email protected]