If you work in warehouse management, then you know how challenging it can be to run a sustainable operation. There are a lot of high expectations out there, including reducing harmful byproducts, increasing energy efficiency, and cutting down on waste – the list goes on and on.
However, becoming more sustainable not only helps you and others who work in warehousing to be good stewards of the environment, it also aids in achieving compliance for new construction projects in new locations where your business may want to expand. Plus, by implementing warehouse operations best practices, your company can cut time and costs.
Many innovative managers pursuing sustainable and efficient warehouses are doing this in a variety of ways. Here are popular (and effective) trends that will help you increase efficiency and eliminate waste:
- Location, Location, Location
A key part of creating a sustainable warehouse operation involves carefully considering where the warehouse will be built. The further away the building is from logistics hubs, the more energy will be required to move items to and from that location. To reduce the energy (and time) spent to reach their facilities, managers are now choosing to build warehouses closer to urban areas, ports, and airports.
- Schedule Shipments Smarter
If your warehouse location has multiple dock setups, you’re able to schedule shipments to arrive at the same time, preventing additional setup and breakdown and saving hours of labor.
Cross-docking is the practice of unloading incoming materials directly into outbound trucks, trails, or rail cars with little or no storage in between. This increases operational efficiency by reduction of delivery times and is most often used when handling time-sensitive and perishable inventory. Plus, you’ll cut down on pests that may come into your warehouse hitchhiking on incoming materials.
- Watch the Water
While this process will likely look different for every building, optimizing water consumption can help with sustainability. Carefully measuring and monitoring water usage cuts down on waste and money, while also having the added benefit of reducing pest activity. Annoying pests like flies are attracted to standing water, and reducing excess water lowers the likelihood these bugs will take up residence in a facility. If you believe you have a fly infestation, check out our pest solutions.
- Get the right fans
Heating or cooling an entire warehouse can drive up energy usage, but it’s necessary to create suitable working conditions for employees. That’s why warehousing professionals are increasingly turning to high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans as a solution. These fans circulate cool and warm air around the building, helping to alleviate harsh temperatures while maximizing energy efficiency. This method may not work in all climates, but it is worth exploring for facilities located in more temperate areas.
- Select smart roofing material
Another simple way to reduce the costs of cooling a building is to have a reflective roof. This can be achieved simply by coating the roof in white paint or using reflective materials, either of which send sunlight (and subsequently heat) in the opposite direction. Managers may also install solar panels on roofs, providing yet another cost-effective source of energy.
- Get certified
Once a building is fully built and optimized, managers may wish to pursue LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation. LEED® is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Obtaining this formal recognition not only looks great to partners, it helps motivate all management and staff to continuously meet the standards required to keep it.
- Never stop learning
If you are a warehouse distribution or supply chain manager, there are many educational resources available for you to become a knowledgeable leader when it comes to warehouse operations and the function of supply chains. Warehouse management associations, webinars, and online courses are readily available.
From choosing a great location to obtaining LEED® accreditation, there are many ways to create more sustainable operations. With the future of the planet and its environment at stake, there’s never been a better time to explore these methods and see if they might be a fit for your business. Learn more about keeping your warehouse clean, efficient and pest-free.