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The world’s tallest deep-freezer warehouse

30 June 2016 | 

In South-East China, at the Pearl River Delta, megacities are expanding into a conurbation of unparalleled size. Supply hubs have to utilize the expensive building plots efficiently – a challenge that makes voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik reach heights of 45 meters.

“Pearl River Delta” – that sounds romantic. But the harsh reality of this booming region shows something else: This is where such megacities as Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen are developing into the largest urban conglomerate in the world, where around 60 million residents have to be provisioned. Hubs in the peripheral urban areas are handling important distribution roles, but are located on increasingly expensive properties. High-bay warehouses seem like the viable solution. In Shenzhen, the city of millions north of Hong Kong, the Austrian specialists of voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik GmbH have built the high-bay facility for the world’s largest deep-freeze warehouse in a silo design.

Strategic partnership

“The best way for us to utilize the building plots is with bay heights that far exceed the 24-meter range. A height of 45 meters was calculated to be optimal for Shenzhen. However, local companies have not been able to complete automated systems in this category with a quality that satisfies the technical and climatic conditions on site,” states Berthold Zeilermayr, team manager for projects outside of Europe at voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik GmbH. Like many of the local system integrators, the general contractor from Shenzhen therefore relied on proven expertise from Europe. “For our Chinese partners, the essential factors were our experiences in constructing high-bay warehouses in a silo design with these dimensions, combined with the good reputation of the voestalpine products in terms of economy, reliability and material quality – and for us, this order is ideal in further advancing our position in a rapidly growing market environment,” Zeilermayr says about the start of the strategic collaboration with the local general contractor.

Provisioning with safety

For the client, Genzon Property Group Co. Ltd., this superlative deep-freeze warehouse is an investment in the logistical future of the South Chinese megalopolis. Shenzhen is one of the most important distribution hubs, e.g. for the supply of Hong Kong – and has vast needs of its own with almost 11 million residents. With its freezer volume of 435,000 cubic meters and 70,000 spaces for standard industrial pallets, the size of the Genzon Group’s fully automatic deep-freeze warehouse is far from exaggerated. The warehouse dimensions were also a challenge for the structural engineers. In this region, which is subject to tropical hurricanes, the building authorities listed top wind speeds of 224 km/h; given the size and position of the structure, this results in an extremely high built-up pressure of more than 2.4 kN/m². This has to be absorbed and diverted by the profiles of the high-bay structures as load-bearing construction elements – without endangering the safe operation inside the building or the function of the warehouse automation. Here the stacker cranes of a German specialist ensure smooth storage and retrieval. “In close collaboration with this partner, which has been gaining experience in the Chinese logistics market since 1998, we were able to guarantee compliance with the low tolerances that are required for an object with these dimensions, especially in regard to the interaction between the shelving and the operating devices,” explains sales employee Thomas Stuphann (voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik). At this point the profiles of the Austrian experts in high-bay warehousing are proving their reliability once again.

Upward with higher tensile materials

High-bay warehouses with these dimensions are subject to particular structural requirements in terms of the load-bearing or climatic resilience. Based on the Eurocode as well as the national Chinese standards, an extensive testable structure was created for the deep-freeze warehouse at the Pearl River Delta. Full FEM conformity was verified, also to the satisfaction of the local authorities. “By using higher tensile materials, we can achieve not only additional load capacities but, above all, we can also handle the enormous wind loads,” Zeilermayr states. “Instead of the usual materials, we therefore used special qualities in Shenzhen with a yield strength that is about 30 percent higher.”
Of course the Krems-based high-bay manufacturers know that any novelty status in this contested steel structure sector is limited – experiences in the Chinese market show that the unique selling point of today is the common technological property of tomorrow. But true to the requirements of voestalpine’s corporate claim of always being a step ahead, the high-bay manufacturers of voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik are already distinguishing themselves with new ideas.


•  Shenzhen, Southern China (Eastern Pearl River Delta)
•  Fully automatic deep-freeze warehouse for food products
•  Property size of 9,800 m²
•  Deep-freeze area: 435,000 m³
•  Dimensions (L/W/H): 85/116/45 m
•  Deep-freeze temperature -28° C
•  69,952 Pallet spaces (industrial pallets 1,000 x 1,200 mm)
•  Double-deep storage system in a silo design
•  18 warehouse levels, 16 aisles with one stacker crane each