Branker Cheng, cold operations - senior logistics services manager at Kerry Logistics, talks about change in the business KERRY LOGISTICS HAS two multi-storey cold storage facilities in the Kwai Chung area, and both are around 300,000 sq ft in size. My job involves allocating resources such as warehouse space, manpower and equipment, as well as controlling daily operating costs and maintaining good relationships with our customers. We focus on frozen and chilled food, which means handling mainly meat, seafood, vegetables, juices and milk products. Therefore, it is essential to keep a close eye on the functioning of the refrigeration system and safety and hygiene standards in the workplace. The average turnover of cargo every month is about 20,000 tonnes, so operations have to be efficient. The cold storage capacity is divided into three main areas. About 85 per cent is for frozen goods with a temperature of minus 16 to minus 18 degrees Celsius; roughly 10 per cent is for chilled items at 2 to 5 degrees; and the rest is air-conditioned at between 16 and 22 degrees. A major challenge is utilising the available space to capacity during the year. Our peak seasons are just before Christmas, Easter and Lunar New Year, when we are forced to do a lot of shifting and reconsolidation to make use of every square foot. Planning for this is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, and involves making ad hoc decisions. There are 114 staff members in the operations team. Around 80 are warehouse keepers and tallymen, and the others are managers, supervisors and documentation staff. One team looks after cold logistics services for two customers that operate fast-food restaurants in Hong Kong. Altogether they have 126 outlets which require daily distribution to different drop points of about 20,000 packages within 1,500 stock-keeping units (SKUs). It is a complex operation and all data and transactions must be completed by the end of the day because that affects billing. I have been with Kerry since 1981 and started in general cargo before moving on to the bonded and dangerous goods warehouses. In 1990, I was asked to manage the new cold storage business, which meant learning a lot in a short time. I first went to Japan to see how things are done there, and I then spent three months getting practical experience in Hong Kong. The best thing about the job is the opportunity to face new challenges. The experience I've gained has taught me to stay calm and think clearly before taking action. Even so, there can be quite a lot of pressure and sometimes it's hard to remain patient, especially if you see workers not alert to the importance of safety at work. The cold storage business is undergoing a transformation and, in future, facilities are likely to handle more food processing functions. The idea is to reduce costs for extra transportation and limit the number of times the food is moved. My advice to young people going into the cold storage field is to learn about the full scope of the logistics industry. If they do that, they will also understand merchandising, customer service and how the whole supply chain works. In my spare time, I'm usually either in the fitness centre or with my family.