Warehouse Consultants

November 19, 2018

Green Warehouses: 7 Ways To Make Your Warehouse More Environmentally Friendly

In our most recent article, we discussed the four most important reasons that you should consider creating a green warehouse, whether you’re building a new one or retrofitting an old one. The most common reason that businesses choose to do this is that they are interested in saving money; energy efficiency can realize cost savings in both the short and long term. Another reason that business owners choose more energy efficient and low VOC buildings is that it creates a healthier environment for their coworkers, and that translates to fewer sick days. Having an environmentally friendly building also looks better in the public eye and can be used to promote a business. Finally, it just makes sense to leave the planet a better place for our descendants.

Those are four very good whys. But what about how? Once you decide that you’re interested in creating a more energy efficient warehouse, what’s the next step? Contacting DAK Equipment and Engineering is a great start, because we know about the latest and greatest ways of creating a green warehouse. Here are some of the most common suggestions to think about when it comes to warehouse energy efficiency.

 

Make Better Use of Conveyor Systems

You might not think that industrial conveyor systems take much energy to run, but they’re actually one of the biggest energy hogs out there. In fact, a single unit can take as much energy to run as lighting the entire warehouse.

What can be done during warehouse design to reduce the amount of energy used? First of all, don’t get a bigger conveyor system than you need. Even when they’re not on, they’re drawing lots of power, and the bigger your system the more it’s going to drain. Speaking of which, it’s also important to install convey systems that have sleep modes so that they’re not hogging power even when no one is in the warehouse. You might even want to investigate passive conveyor systems instead of powered ones. If you can get gravity to do some of the work for you, why shouldn’t you take full advantage of it?

It’s important to think about energy savings from the very beginning of your warehouse optimization. If you have a more efficiently designed warehouse, you’ll be able to use fewer conveyor systems that end up using less power. Investigate your conveyor systems and see if you can find a manufacturer who uses fewer motors that have less horsepower.

 

Reduce The Building Footprint

You have a certain amount of space that you need in your warehouse, so it might sound counterintuitive to suggest that you make your warehouse smaller. Yes, a smaller warehouse will use less energy in both lighting and heating, but if you need the space then you need the space.


That’s where efficient pallet racks and warehouse layout design come in. If you are making the absolute most of a space due to efficient pallet design, you’ll be able to build a smaller warehouse in the first place. That means less lighting, less heating, and a smaller area that forklifts have to drive around in.

 

Energy-Efficient Lights

One of the easiest ways to save money in a warehouse is to replace the lightbulbs. Lights used to be huge energy waste, and some bulbs would waste up to 90-percent of the energy as heat. By using more energy-efficient lightbulbs such as LEDs, you’ll be using a lot less energy. Yes, they might be more expensive upfront, but you’ll be saving a lot of money in the long run.

But wait, there’s more! You’re not just saving money on the energy, but you’ll also be saving money on labor. Because bulbs like LEDs last so much longer than other types of bulbs, you won’t have to pay someone to get up on a scissor lift in order to replace them nearly as often. It also means that the scissor lift won’t be getting in the way of your forklifts, which could slow things down. Plus, less time spent on scissor lift means less time in which an employee could suffer a serious accident.

 

Sensor-Controlled Lighting

It’s not likely that you’ll put the entire warehouse on sensor-controlled lights. After all, there are parts of it that are in use for the entire day, and only at the end of the day does it make sense to turn them off.

But there are areas of most warehouses that don’t see much traffic. It used to be that those areas would stay lighted for the entire day, but today the lights in those areas can automatically be turned off when no one is around. When the area is needed and a person needs a light, the lights come on in order to safety light their way to a particular pallet.

 

Recycling

Reducing, reusing, and recycling has been a part of warehouses forever. After all, wooden pallets are used again and again until they fall apart, and even then they are sometimes repaired. Materials recycling has been around as long as metal has been able to be melted down and used again.

Recycling isn’t just about being Earth-friendly — it can be good for a business’ bottom line as well. Set aside space where employees can place items that can be reused or recycled, and take a look at the packing material you use in a warehouse to see if it can be used again. Also, if you recycle more, then you might be able to reduce the number of times you pay someone to come and haul off the real trash in your dumpsters.

 

Lower the Temperature

This can be a tough one to balance. In an office setting, employees tend to work better when the temperature is a bit too warm rather than if it’s a bit too cool. But that doesn’t always translate to a warehouse, where people are moving around a lot more and creating their own heat.

It might be worth it to do some experiments to see how tolerant your employees are of a lower temperature. We’re not talking about lowering the temperature 10 degrees overnight, because they’ll certainly complain. But if you drop it a degree and no one says anything, you’ll have saved yourself a lot of money and used less energy at the same time. Over the course of a year, that’s big savings.

 

Site Selection

At first, the site that you choose for your green warehouse might not seem like that big of a deal. It’s not like you’re looking for a hot spring to build over to help with heating costs! But site selection can be very important if you’re interested in putting solar panels on your warehouse.

But it’s not the active savings that can make site selection so important — it’s often the passive ones. Let’s take transportation costs, for instance. If you are shipping via railroad, it’s important to choose a site so that you’re not so far away from the railroad loading station. Every extra mile that you’re away from the railroad means that your trucks are burning more fuel, costing gas and money. On the other hand, having a green warehouse or distribution center in the heart of a city can make it more attractive to employees who want to bicycle or walk to work. While the warehouse isn’t actively reducing its carbon footprint, it can create situations in which less fuel is spent.

 

Let DAK Help You Create a Greener Warehouse!

If you are about to build a new warehouse, you’ll want to have warehouse optimization experts like those at DAK Equipment and Engineering involved very early on. We can help you with many of the cost-saving measures we talked about above, and you’ll end up with a greener warehouse because of it. And if you’re refurbishing an existing warehouse, we’ll be there for that as well. Contact us today to get the process started.

 

 

 

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November 14, 2018

Green Warehouses: Why You Should Make Your Warehouse Environmentally Friendly

Since the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969, (and also the 12 times it caught fire previous to that date) there has been a great interest in environmentalism. In fact, the first Earth Day occurred the next year, and anyone who’s paying attention knows that it’s a good idea to do what they can to be a good steward of our resources during our short time on the planet. But that’s far from the only reason you should consider doing whatever you can to make your next warehouse a green warehouse…or retrofit your current one to make it more energy efficient.

The fact is, the reason to make your warehouse green goes well beyond protecting our rivers from catching on fire. So, the question remains…

 

Why Create a Green Warehouse?

The good thing about creating an environmentally friendly warehouse is that there’s not just one good reason to do so. Here are four very good reasons to consider switching major and minor components in a warehouse to ones that will save energy.

 

You’ll Experience Cost Savings

The number one reason that a warehouse chooses to go green has nothing to do with the earth and everything to do with the bottom line. While building an energy-efficient building such as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building might cost a little more at the beginning of a project, it ends up easily paying for itself with ease.

We’re not just talking about small savings, either. A little investment now can end up paying for itself exponentially. Even small investments now can reap huge benefits in the future. In some cases, the energy efficient decisions can pay for themselves in under a year.

 

It Can Improve Employee Health

When most people think about a warehouse being greener, they think about energy-saving measure. But a greener building can also be better for employee health. At first this might seem counterintuitive: A building that is more energy efficient means that it’s less likely to let certain chemicals out, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Doesn’t that mean that the employees will be trapped inside with them? The solution is simple: use materials that don’t use VOCs. This means a more energy-efficient building and it means that fewer employees will be going home with headaches…or worse.

Okay, so let’s say that you aren’t a people person and really don’t care about how your employees are feeling. Maybe you’re more concerned about them getting their work done. Well, the fact is that an employee who’s feeling good is more likely to show up for work. They’re not only going to feel better about being there, but they’re also less likely to call in sick. Once again, having a green warehouse is a win-win situation.

 

Public Perception

You’ve probably noticed that many LEED-certified buildings have a plaque in the most prominent place possible, whether it’s on the inside or outside of a building. Not only are many business owners proud to tell their employees about their devotion to energy conservation, but they’re also interested in telling the public. It’s simply good PR to let people know that a space is energy efficient, because the bulk of the population understands the importance of doing so.

Such good PR can go well beyond having a plaque at the building. A company’s devotion to environmental protection can also be a marketing bragging point, whether it’s on the website, at job fairs, or on flyers. It can also be huge in business-to-business transactions, because companies want to work with other companies who have a positive public environmental image.

 

It’s Earth-Friendly

When we say earth-friendly, we’re not talking about the soil-covered rock that we’re floating through space on. The earth has survived much bigger problems than humanity and recovers every time..

When we say earth-friendly, we’re talking about the way in which we want to leave the planet for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. Being more responsible with the energy you use in your warehouse can play a tiny part in making sure that your descendants don’t have to deal with decade-long droughts, water wars, and constant category 5 hurricanes.

 

DAK Is Ready To Make You More Efficient

Now that we’ve taken a look at why you might decide to invest in a green warehouse, you’re probably wondering how you might make your warehouse — whether you’re building from scratch or retrofitting your old one — more energy efficient. That’s what we’ll be discussing in our next blog. If you can’t wait to find out, we’d love to talk with you about your green warehouse aspirations. Read more about it right here, then contact us to start talking about how you can save money and look better in the public eye by going green. When you think about it, there’s really no reason not to do so. DAK Equipment and Engineering is ready to help you get the most from your warehouse, so get in touch with us right here.

 

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November 06, 2018

The Importance Of Signage As Part of Warehouse Optimization

When most people think about warehouse optimization, they think about the way that the pallet racks are assembled in order to make the absolute most of the space. While warehouse layout optimization is a huge part of making a warehouse more efficient, it’s not the only way that you can make sure that people are moving about it effectively and safely.

Signage is a big part of any warehouse. And it’s not just about ensuring that everyone knows where each pallet is — it can sometimes be a legal requirement that you don’t want to ignore. Let’s take a look at how signage can be a big part of your warehouse design and how it can also keep your employees safe and happy.

 

Pallet Identification

Knowing where everything is in a warehouse is the only way to make sure that you can find exactly what you need at a moment’s notice. And even if you know where a particular pallet is, you still need to relay that information to someone who will actually go out and get it with a forklift.

Pallet identification signs should be large enough for anyone to see from a reasonable distance, because it’s important to remember that not everyone’s eyesight is 20/20. They should be in an easy-to-read font and readable from an angle (because that’s the way that most of them will be viewed). Rows and columns should both be easily readable, because there will always be a new employee who has no idea where even the most commonly used pallet is on their first day.

 

Directional Signage

Some types of signs won’t be on the pallets but are equally helpful in helping employees navigate a warehouse. Right-of-way signs are an important part, as are signs that let forklift operators know which direction the flow goes in order to keep them out of the way of other forklifts.

Of course, there are also basic directional signs to deal with. Everyone needs to know where the bathrooms are, as well which way the in-warehouse modular offices are. Good directional signs can simply help with warehouse efficiency.

 

Safety Signage

There are so many good reasons to keep your employees safe. First of all, it’s simply the right thing to do, and you don’t want to lose a friend due to the lack of workplace signs around the warehouse. But it’s also important for your business, because you don’t want to lose an experienced employee. You also don’t want to have to deal with a lawsuit, and you certainly don’t want OSHA breathing down your neck because you forgot to put up the right safety signage.

Here are some of the most important signs you need to be sure to keep around your warehouse, whether they’re on your pallet racks or not.

  • Exit Signs – These are a no-brainer and are certainly a legal requirement. Make sure you have your exit signs properly wired and batteried in order to ensure they can be seen no matter the environment.
  • Balers – OSHA is definitely going to require proper signage on your cardboard balers, as well as any other heavy machinery that has the ability to seriously hurt an employee. Always make sure to keep the safety signage on these pieces of equipment clean and easily visible.
  • Speed LimitsIt can get pretty crazy in warehouses, especially when there’s a shipping deadline or when a major shopping holiday is coming up. Forklifts have the ability to go fast, much faster than they should go in a warehouse. Keeping the safe speed limit posted is a good way to remind employees of how they should drive.
  • No Pedestrians Sometimes there are areas that should simply be off-limits to pedestrians when there are forklifts are around. While guardrails can be a good way to delineate exactly where pedestrians are welcome (and protect them from materials handling systems as well), signs can also remind warehouse employees where they shouldn’t go. These areas will be even more important as warehouses start adopting robots into the workforce.
  • Loading Dock and Mezzanine Deck Drop-offsNearly every warehouse has some sort of drop-off that has to be avoided. The most common are fall dangers at loading docks, but mezzanine levels and multi-level pick-and-pack racks can also be dangerous places if proper signage isn’t posted. (Of course, properly installed and inspected gate locking mechanisms are another important aspect of this.)
  • Industrial Conveyor SystemsConveyor systems can be an excellent way of making your business more efficient. But whenever you introduce a mechanical system near people’s hands, there will be a danger. Proper signage can be a constant reminder of pinch hazards.
  • Business-Specific RemindersSometimes you might have to have custom signs made that are specific to your particular business. Perhaps you have quality control station that shouldn’t be touched by anyone but trained personnel. A sign made specifically to address this safety concern and keep untrained people away from it is a must.

 

Make Your Warehouse As Easy To Navigate As Possible

The longer you’re in a warehouse, the more you get accustomed to where everything is. But it’s always important to remember that employee turnover means that there will often be someone new in the warehouse, someone who might not know where B13 is or even where the bathroom is! Be sure to make it easier on them and keep them safe with proper signage.

When you go with DAK Equipment and Engineering, we’ll make sure that the industrial pallet racks are properly installed — and labeled — in order to make your warehouse as efficient as possible. Contact us today to get the most out of your warehouse.

 

 

 

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