Growing e-commerce sales have given rise to an increase in online grocery shopping, and as a result companies across the supply chain are taking steps to capitalize on demand for cold storage and transportation services. The trend was evident at this week’s MODEX 2020 show in Atlanta, where companies were showcasing material handling solutions, partnerships, and acquisitions aimed at building business in the refrigerated storage and transportation segment.
Third-party logistics provider (3PL) BlueGrace Logistics, technology and automation specialists Twinlode Automation and Körber Supply Chain, and lithium-ion battery technology company Ensol Battery provide some pointed examples.
BlueGrace announced Monday its acquisition of Anthym Logistics, a Florida-based freight brokerage firm that adds considerable refrigerated truckload capacity to the BlueGrace network. Commenting on the acquisition during MODEX, BlueGrace’s Randy Ofiara said Anthym’s expertise in the refrigerated space will satisfy growing demand for those services among its customer base.
“We are looking to grow, and we found a good fit with Anthym,” said Ofiara, vice president of enterprise sales, emphasizing the growing demand for cold chain services nationwide and Anthym’s focus on the produce industry, where it utilizes refrigerated carriers. “It helps bolster our brokerage unit, there was not a lot of overlap with our customer base, and their expertise in the refrigerated space is important.”
Twinlode and Körber made news on Monday as well, announcing a partnership aimed at providing end-to-end material handling and supply chain solutions to customers throughout North America, with a particular focus on Twinlode’s 25-year track record serving the cold storage and food and beverage industries. The partnership combines Twinlode’s material handling automation expertise with Körber’s broader supply chain technology offering, the companies said.
The primary path for growth will be through Twinlode’s penetration in food and beverage/cold storage, said Richard Kooistra, Twinlode’s vice president of automation.
“Our presence in the target market they want [is key],” Kooistra said. “The partnership makes sense.”
Lithium-ion battery maker Ensol Battery was also capitalizing on demand for cold storage applications during MODEX, showcasing its Ensol Frost battery, which is designed to work and charge in cold storage environments. Ensol CEO Lola Rakhimi said cold storage applications continue to drive business for the company, pointing to a 2019 contract with temperature-controlled logistics giant Lineage Logistics in which Ensol supplied 500 li-ion batteries for use across its operations; the majority of those batteries were Ensol Frost products, Rakhimi said.
“We are seeing an increase in business [because of] growing interest in the cold storage market, definitely,” Rakhimi said. “Our Frost batteries are in demand because they have 100% available capacity in freezer conditions, and we also have a charger for use inside the freezer. This is a growing market.”