At the Belgian transshipment and storage company, Luik Natie, the construction of a new Cold Store is gradually being completed. It is expected that this new building will be opened and taken into use on Friday, 15 February.
The Cold Store was built to store mainly fresh tropical fruit as well as vats of honey. Besides the new cooling cells, there will be 70 reefer plugs. There will also be 15 new loading and off-loading docks.
“The plans for the new Cold Store were drawn up in 2016. This was a result of the growing fresh fruit market. Currently, we process about 100 containers on a weekly basis. These include products such as bananas, mangoes, and pineapples", say Jakob Van Poucke and Steven Beuselinck of Luik Natie.
"But, we have too little space. With the new building, we want to move towards volumes of between 200 and 300 containers per week. There will be space for 6.000 extra pallets in the new building. These will be in three different cooling cells. These cooling cells will be equipped to store bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and other fruit. "
"There will also be a separate space of 1.500m². This will be used for storing barrels of honey. These will, eventually, be unloaded, weighed, labeled, and palletized using an automated line. The front warehouse has, among other things, a heat work floor. This helps maintain the temperature between 12 and 14 degrees. These temperatures are ideal for bananas and mangoes."
"This ensures that as many operations as possible can be carried out in the front warehouse. For example, bananas will no longer have to go into cold storage. They can be loaded directly into refrigerated trucks from the front warehouse. Enough space was also left in the front warehouse to make sure work rums as smoothly as possible", they say.
‘’Quick response time’’
“We noticed that an increasing number of clients also store containers from outside of Belgium at the port of Antwerp. Luik Natie is located right by the large container terminals. This is why we can have quick response times.
"We are also getting 15 new loading and unloading docks. This means containers can be loaded and off-loaded at the same time. There will be 70 extra reefer plugs onsite too. In combination with our own transport division, we can operate 100% independently. Now, we just need to convince the shipping companies to choose Antwerp more often as their first port of call."
"Daily, 30 of our own trucks are constantly collecting containers from the container terminals. They then bring them to our transshipment and storage location", continues Steven. Luik Natie's clients are, predominantly, from Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. "We do mainly door-to-door deliveries for our Dutch clients. Their containers almost never pass through the Cold Store."
"The rest of our clients almost always make use of our various services. Logically, it is far more attractive for our German and French clients to leave containers in Antwerp. They can then quickly supply their sales markets in Northern Europe using refrigerated trucks. It is a perfect solution, especially when it comes to fresh products."
The new Cold Store is being built to be completely CO2-neutral. It supplies its own wind and solar energy. "During construction, we took sustainability into account 100% of the time. We have our own wind turbine that generates electricity. In 2019, solar panels will be installed. The cooling system is also state-of-the-art", explains Jakob.
"A large reservoir was built under the new building. Here, rain water is collected. This is then re-used in the cooling system. No chemicals substances will be used for the refrigeration. Our fleet is also made up of economical vehicles."
"This was decided, in part, due to our conviction that corporate sustainability is the future. Our clients also deem sustainability as increasingly important. It is only the retail sector that is not demanding their suppliers become more sustainable.That is a pity", he says.
"We plan to have a FAVV-recognized location in our new Cold Store. This will be for fruit and vegetables. We offer the automated checking of bananas and we have a customs warehouse permit. We work closely with external quality controllers. We can, therefore, also offer this essential service to our fruit and vegetable clients. At the same time, we also have a permanent team of employees and managers who have the necessary know-how needed to process products as well possible", continues Jakob.
In the new building, ample attention has been given to the safety of Luik Natie's workers. The safety of external parties employees such as customs and food safety officials and quality inspectors have also be taken into account. This is done by keeping the traffic flow of people and forklifts completely separate from each other.
As soon as the construction of the new Cold Store is completed, building on the new freezer warehouse will begin. The plan is that it will be delivered in early 2020. With the completion of the new freezer, there will be space for 22.000 extra pallets. This is in addition ot the current 9.000. These are mostly filled with fish, meat, and french fries.
"The current and future freezer warehouses are unique. This is because it is the only one of its kind in the port of Antwerp that has an inhouse veterinary inspection point for the FAVV food agency. This creates enormous added value for clients", Steven goes on to say.
"At Luik Natie, they can avoid the long waiting periods and high costs as well as the uncertainty. We also still offer an alternative unloading site if the client's batch of meat or fish needs to be held. The empty container can be directly delivered to the terminal. Our clients, therefore, do not have to pay high costs to the shipping companies."
Luik Natie is also fully investing in a new software system. This will further optimize their internal way of working. In particular, it will give clients realtime options to check their own stock online.
For more information:
Jakob Van Poucke
Luik Natie Coldstore nv
1145 Kruipin haven
9130 Kallo – Belgium
+32 (0) 356 16 314
+32 (0) 356 16 355