Finding Sustainability in Warehouse Management

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Apr 4, 2022 1:51:49 PM

220405-Finding Sustainability in Warehouse ManagementWhen the supply chain is asked to be more sustainable or energy-efficient, most eyes go directly to the transportation industry. After all, carriers and shippers tend to use fleets of vehicles that burn up a ton of fossil fuels.

But the warehouse industry is an overlooked entity when it comes to sustainability. Compared to other parts of the supply chain, facilities have the potential to significantly impact the health of the planet as well as how the public views the industry. 

According to the World Business Council, buildings have the greatest opportunity to reduce emissions. In the U.S. alone, buildings use more energy than either the transportation or industrial sectors. So, how can warehouse management become more sustainable? Here are some ideas you can start implementing. 

1. Choosing the Best Locations

Your warehouse site selection is vital for sustainability. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), 41% of the energy used in the U.S. is consumed by buildings. When warehouses are located closer to the customers, there is less need for costly transportation, which also causes pollution. 

Many warehouses are moving toward micro-fulfillment centers, which are smaller warehouse options located near big cities. This cuts down on the delivery distances necessary for the high volume of orders in these areas. At the same time, employees won’t have to travel as far to get to work, and many can even use public transportation. 

2. Energy-Efficient Warehouses

220405-Finding Sustainability in Warehouse Management-1To promote sustainability and maximize energy efficiency, warehouses can use energy-efficient lighting. Wherever possible, a facility can take advantage of natural light by using skylights and large windows or bay doors. LED lighting is not only more energy-efficient but also easier on the eyes for employees working long hours. To run the warehouses systems, consider options like solar panels and sensors to harness the power of the sun. 

3. Warehouse Automation

Warehouse automation is a growing trend, and many of these initiatives promote sustainability. According to one recent industry report, 43% of businesses surveyed spent between $5-10 million on automation and robotics due to the pandemic, and 53% claim they plan to increase their investments in these areas. 

So, how is automation linked with sustainability? Basically, automation of various processes, like picking and packing, can reduce the trips that forklifts and other equipment have to make. Using smart technology, such as mobile carts, can also reduce your workforce needs. 

4. Compact Storage Systems

220405-Finding Sustainability in Warehouse Management-2Creating a smaller footprint for your storage space can improve your warehouse’s sustainability. How? If you are able to operate your business using less space with a high-density storage solution, you can reduce your energy consumption. 

5. Better Climate Control 

Speaking of energy consumption, most warehouses require careful climate control to take care of the significant investment in products. And this can be challenging when a building has multiple entrances/exits and high ceilings. 

You can make your warehouse much more energy-efficient by focusing on its insulation. This can keep cold air inside or prevent the outside elements from entering the space. Your warehouse can also use smart thermostats to closely regulate its climate control systems. 

6. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

220405-Finding Sustainability in Warehouse Management-3According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, roughly 14.5 million tons of packaging and plastic containers are generated annually, totaling about 5% of this country’s solid municipal waste (MSW). 

One of the best ways to cut down on these figures is for a warehouse to find ways to reduce waste. Some items simply aren’t necessary and can be eliminated. Others, such as bins, pallets, and packaging, can be reused. 

In a sustainable warehouse, plastic, paper, and glass that can’t be reused should be sent to a recycling provider. According to the U.S. Census, recycling has increased from less than 7% in 1960 to over 32% today. And currently, recycling in this country accounts for roughly 681,000 jobs. 

7. Efficient Layout

How traffic flows through your warehouse can make it more or less efficient and sustainable. You can use warehouse simulation solutions to create the most efficient operation possible. This will often involve optimizing your storage space and processes. When you have people and equipment making fewer trips to accomplish the same tasks, you will use less energy and may even pay for fewer work hours. 

8. Sustainable Construction

Whether you are planning a warehouse from the ground up or want to remodel a structure you already have, there are some sustainable construction choices you can make. For example, some building materials are more sustainable and less polluting than others. Make sure you are choosing the right types of wood products, adhesives, paints, carpeting, and sealants. 

As already stated, LED lighting is an excellent sustainable upgrade for your business. Another way to reduce the temperature inside the structure is to choose a cool roof, which is made from reflective material or simply a light-colored paint. 

9. Water Usage

Not many warehouses think about water usage, but all of them use water to some extent. On the outside of your structure, try to use water-efficient landscaping. You can also reduce your costs and improve sustainability by including features like low-flow fixtures inside and even rainwater harvesting outside. 

10. Get LEED-Certified

If you’re serious about warehouse sustainability, consider going the extra mile to have your building LEED-certified. It won’t be easy, but the stamp of approval will be worth it for your energy and cost savings as well as your reputation. A LEED-certified building has 34% lower CO2 emissions, uses 25% less energy, and consumes 11% less water. 

Not only is having a sustainable warehouse the right thing to do, but these initiatives come with a variety of benefits for your business. Sustainability can significantly improve your cost and operational efficiency as well as boost customer loyalty. Combined, these benefits will enhance your business’s bottom-line results. 

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Topics: Warehouse Managment, Automation, Sustainability

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