Making a warehouse and logistics company sustainable can be broken down into three types of practices, all of which require a little investment for a big return.
These practices include increasing energy efficiency, implementing automation, and workflow optimisation, so let’s look at how each of these can make your warehouse and logistics business much more sustainable.
Increasing energy efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to taking the first steps towards sustainable warehousing and logistics.
By their very nature, warehouses consume a lot of energy with all the equipment, activities and processes that are a part of the daily operations. This isn’t necessarily a problem though, as it provides lots of opportunities to increase energy efficiency.
There are many warehousing practices that can be made much more energy efficient, including installing the likes of skylights for more natural light instead of using electricity to light every space. LED light bulbs which consume less energy than older light bulbs can replace those old versions to reduce energy consumption even further. Photocell sensors can also help by turning off lights that aren’t needed.
An extra step to take could be installing solar panels so the warehouse can generate its own electricity. Some operations might even be able to benefit from power regeneration by converting the brake forces of certain equipment into electricity. Heat can also be recovered from some cold storage systems.
Conveyors and palletisers can have their running speeds adjusted so they run at a much slower pace when not actively being used. Also consider that many automated warehouse tasks can be undertaken in darkness and without heat or air-conditioning, so there could be lots of energy savings to be made via automation.
Let’s talk more about automation!
Many warehouse and logistics companies are looking into automated solutions. This includes technology to automate order picking such as pick-to-light technology, voice technology, and a variety of sorting systems.
Automated warehouse technology also includes a number of bar-coding applications, radio frequency identification (RFID), and automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). All of these can help nudge a warehouse company towards being much more sustainable.
Many labour-intensive tasks and processes can also be automated these days which can be a relief for warehouse staff. It is one way for companies to not only become more sustainable but to also achieve the likes of improved inventory visibility and product accuracy. While RFID technologies and bar-coding are eliminating the need for paperwork, ASRS has the potential to reduce labour costs while actually improving safety and security.
Your warehouse layout must be optimised in order to maximise workflow efficiency, which will remove unnecessary actions and hindrances. The warehousing process will run much smoother and consume less energy, but there is another excellent benefit to optimising the warehouse workflow.
The more optimised workflow is in your warehouse, the easier you will be able to integrate new sustainable functions in the future. Areas to optimise include order picking and packing, plus any storage processes and material handling.
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