While you may think there is relatively little you can improve within a warehouse, there are a number of steps you can take. Here are just five ideas on how to make your warehouse more environmentally-friendly, and save money (and the world) as a result.
1 Maximise your space
Oftentimes, businesses fill the footprint of their warehouse and believe that there’s nowhere else to expand. What they actually end up with is inefficient racking layouts that don’t even make the most of their floorspace, let alone the space above it.
By deploying high density pallet racking, you can solve all of these problems at once. There are a number of pallet racking formats to fulfil your needs, with narrow-aisle or double-deep racking providing as much as 50% more storage space as traditional racking, or using half of the footprint.
Taller racking doesn’t have to be an impediment to accessibility, either: staircases, lifts and walkways will provide you with numerous access points for both people and vehicles, while an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is a smart new way to retrieve goods from a racking face automatically.
2 Install smart lighting
Not only does poor quality lighting create potential safety hazards for employees, it can also impede efficiency, as people struggle to navigate and identify where certain pallets are. Poor quality lighting can also be expensive to run and maintain, with a high wattage and proprietary bulbs or components.
Installing LED lighting allows you to produce equivalent light levels to fluorescent or metal-halide lighting with significantly less energy usage, and with much wider spacing. LED lights tend to have a much longer lifespan than older formats, too – up to 10x as long as incandescent lamps – and are often fully recyclable.
Perhaps the biggest innovation associated with smart lighting is the use of wireless sensors where your lighting can be controlled remotely, and respond to changes in occupancy and the environment. This allows you to maintain consistent light levels and automatically turn off lights when an area of the warehouse is not in use, saving even more in energy usage.
3 Switch to recyclables
With the immense amount of items being stored – and occasionally broken or damaged – in warehouses, there is inevitably a lot that gets thrown away. Some of this is structural (e.g. fluorescent light bulbs in old fixtures), while other aspects are simply down to not having a recycling plan in place, or not investigating the use of recyclable or more eco-friendly materials.
Make sure that you’re reusing your crates, pallets and storage containers where possible, and recycling them when they’re past their best. You should also consider switching out your packing materials – e.g. plastic void-fill or inflatable packaging – for recyclable alternatives, such as 100% recycled and biodegradable paper packaging.
Ensuring that your warehouse is recycling everything it can isn’t just about introducing recyclable materials. You may also need to change the culture within your organisation, and instil the idea that recycling is important. This may include the creation of recycling stations, teaching employees the process for recycling, and arranging regular deliveries from your warehouse to a recycling centre.
4 Improve your HVAC
One of the biggest expenses (and carbon sinks) in a warehouse is the cost of keeping it hot or cold. And while the quality of your HVAC system has the biggest impact, there are a number of structural factors that could be contributing too.
The first step is to conduct a full audit of your HVAC system. Technology is advancing on a regular basis, and an old or poorly designed HVAC system could be causing major inefficiencies that are costing your business money. There are also ways in which you can augment your HVAC system. As well as the construction of your warehouse and shelving – planning ahead can improve airflow – you should also look at investing in a reflective roof and destratification fans to improve temperature regulation.
James Beale, Invicta Pallet Racking
For over 25 years we have been at the forefront of the archive storage industry throughout the UK and Europe, designing and installing some of the largest racking and storage systems currently found on the market.