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.
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.
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.
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.
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.