Cold Store Expansion Project for Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Group

cold storage equipmentGerman-owned Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Limited has recently expanded its largest UK distribution site in Birmingham, to accommodate new product lines and a growing workforce. We supplied a cold store to the pharmaceutical company to comply with government regulations to keep the pharmaceutical products between +2 and +8°C.

Working closely with our manufacturing partner Veissmann, we have supplied a large cold store with two Veissmann doors, hatch cut-outs for a conveyor system and an integrated control panel that links to a PC. The room is connected to three internal evaporators which give 100% backup, and contains temperature mapping throughout the cold store, so that the equipment always keeps the products cool.

Rob Benson, Project Leader at PHOENIX Healthcare Distribution, comments: “The brief for this enhancement project was to install a cold room large enough to handle future volume growth from our existing customer base and additional product ranges we offer to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies across the UK. During the installation, we continued to operate our 70 delivery routes to customers twice per day.

“The mezzanine that we have installed has increased our overall picking area by over 40% and allowed us to install further automated picking machines, and more than double our automation rate.”

Conveyor system

After the pharmaceutical product has been picked from its shelf inside the cold room, it is placed in a tote on a specially-designed Knapp conveyor system and transported through the custom-built hatchway in the wall of the cold room, to be moved ready for transport. The hatchway contains automatic sensors to tell when the tote is near and the door needs opening, to minimise the time that the door is open and prevent unwanted heat entering the room.

The tote then continues its journey on the short conveyor belt system to the dispatch fridge, ready to be transported to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies around the region.


Steve Prior, Director at Cold Store Group explains: “The cold store has been tailor-made with specially-designed features such as an internal ramp to access the room. Where this would normally be placed on the outside on standard units, the ramp would cause a trip hazard on the mezzanine floor, so we have designed it to go upwards inside the room.

“Our engineers have also installed vision windows to the doors of the room so that employees can see the activity inside before entering, and likewise check that a door won’t be opened onto anyone when exiting the room.”

The cold store panels are B1 fire rated to adhere to fire insurance standards, and the ceiling is supported by a ceiling suspension kit which relieves sag in the panels. Three units outside maintain the temperature inside the cold store and switch over every 24 hours to ensure that the temperature is kept within the limits.

Ambient print room

Prior continues, “In very cold temperatures, paper tends to get damp and be damaged. To counter this, we have designed a specialised separate room to fit inside the cold store and house a printer for the labels for the totes. The room contains a fan unit to keep ambient temperatures higher than those in the cold room.”

Further expansion

Jacqui Kenyon, Project Manager at Phoenix, comments: “We worked very closely with Cold Store Group to ensure that the project remained on schedule. Once the site enhancement has been completed, we will increase production at the Birmingham site which will become the biggest distribution centre for Phoenix in the UK.”

All units are under warranty for a year and Cold Store Group provides proactive maintenance visits, as well as being available 24/7 for any emergency work.

Cold Store Group is relocating two fridges to Phoenix’s Swanley and Wrexham Depots to support their cooling facilities, and keep the pharmaceutical products at the correct temperatures.

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