Sustainability is important to consumers, and change starts at the top. Because green credentials hold such clout, it's industries of all sorts that must face the challenge of redefining their day-to-day operations. For the logistics sector, storing and transporting goods across the country, round-the-clock, faster than ever, and with the least possible environmental harm is especially challenging. But it's not impossible. Take, for instance, warehouses.
Warehouses tend to use vast amounts of energy for lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilating large spaces, as well as powering all the machinery that moves stock around. In fact, for a warehousing business, energy costs often make up a large chunk of overheads, following Wages and rental expenses. But the greater the energy consumption, the bigger the opportunity to save and improve your sustainability profile, your Green Credentials. Here’s how to maximise consumer expectations and minimise the environmental impact of your warehouse:
1) Install Skylights To Harness Sunlight
Overhead lights are not only an eyesore, but also a massive waste of energy. Replacing them with skylights will cut energy costs dramatically, improve the work ambience and provide employees their much-needed daily dose of sunlight. Initial costs may be high, but if you own the premises, the skylights will pay for themselves in time.
2) Check With Air Conditioning Specialists For Green Upgrades
Commercial Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are a money pit. They need to have their filters replaced several times a year, which doesn’t come cheap; not to mention other maintenance and repair costs. Also, the older they are, the less efficient they are. But there are greener alternatives to conventional air con units nowadays, some of which use geothermal (i.e. heat pumps), ice-powered, hydronic, or solar energy, and can provide multiple heating and cooling zones.
3) Ensure Adequate Insulation
There's no point in upgrading your heating system if your building's internal and external insulation is inefficient. External insulation helps reduce CO2 emissions, and the American Insulation Institute claims that insulating floors, ceilings, and outer walls can reduce energy consumption by 13% to 35% in commercial buildings. But this requires a big investment, and the works may affect the running of your business. The only way to find out is by having professionals carry out a full survey of the building.
4) Switch Off To Reduce Waste
You'll sometimes see machinery running in your warehouse even though it's not in use (e.g., during the lunch break). But empty conveyor belts, unused forklifts, electric gates, and other energy intensive machinery can waste energy, eat into your profits, and stretch your carbon footprint. Luckily, if your employees need constant reminding, there are ways to monitor energy use and automate downtime for your warehouse equipment and lighting digitally.
5) Learn To Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
The three 'R's are the best way to maintain full control of your operation’s consumption of materials but also minimise energy consumption for the good. However, you'll need to fundamentally rethink your operations with the help of an environmental audit. You might find ways to use fewer materials in your operation by rationing equipment like gloves, or limiting the number of crates, boxes, trolleys, and stairs in use. You might find ways to salvage materials between deliveries (e.g., reuse pallets, repurpose packaging material). You might also consider what materials can be recycled either by your business or by consumers, such as plastics and packaging materials. Selling baled cardboard in mill sized bales, for instance, can be a source of revenue.
6) Try Pop-Up Warehouses
When demand is unusually high, such as during the run up to Christmas, there's a way to meet customer expectations while also minimising your carbon footprint: set up pop-up warehouses or temporary storage spaces on your property or adjoining your warehouse. These strategically placed temporary storage facilities for your products shorten the distance between warehouse and loading areas, making you more efficient in terms of fuel consumption and energy costs.
7) Find Alternative Fuel
Many logistics vehicles are still woefully uneconomical in terms of fuel use. That's why today's eco-friendly distribution business tries to update its fleet with more energy efficient and technologically advanced vehicles. The upfront costs can be considerable, but as the government invests more in subsidising these technologies, businesses that embrace greener options like biofuel and electric engines stand only to gain.
8) Use On-The-Road Data (Telematics)
One way to reduce fuel consumption, energy bills, and the carbon footprint of your operation is to optimise delivery routes and consolidate, where possible, deliveries. This can be done by using routing and scheduling software and once on the road telematic software can be used to track vehicles and send drivers on more economic routes and monitor driving behaviour such as harsh acceleration or braking, and poor practice like leaving engines idling. Live tacking gives the ability to re-route drivers and manage productivity.
9) Outsource Some Of Your Operations
Outsourcing parts of your operation to a third-party logistics or 3PL company can be a way of saving money and boosting your sustainability profile, if you correctly select your supply partners on their sustainability credentials and fit to your needs.
Download Our Free Guide
We discuss sustainability, warehouse optimisation, supply chain management, outsourcing strategy, and other important cost-saving ideas in greater detail in our free Warehouse Management Guide. Please feel free to download this complimentary resource to access these insights, as well as other compelling reasons and methods to cut energy costs in your warehouse.
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