4 Key Areas to Optimize for Green Warehousing

Blog Post

While the warehouse environment itself is highly complex and tied into the even more complex web of the full logistics lifecycle, the four areas listed below are a good place to start looking for opportunities when planning a green warehousing strategy.

Energy usage

Controlling the ambient environment of the warehouse is critical to protect employees and products. With the size of the largest mega-warehouses clocking in at hundreds of thousands of square meters, the amount of energy required to maintain working conditions can be equally high. Considering where more energy efficient upgrades can be applied is one way to help improve environmental performance, as is looking for greener sources of energy including wind and solar.

Points to consider:

Lighting

  • Motion controlled lighting to eliminate unnecessary illumination
  • ā€œDark warehousesā€ where automated systems can run in low or no-light conditions
  • Improved wiring to reduce energy loss along with workplace accidents

Temperature and humidity control

  • High-volume low-speed fans
  • Improved insulation materials and application

Green energy procurement

  • Integrating energy generation and/or energy reclamation capabilities at the warehouse

Space optimization

The environmental footprint of the warehouse is partly linked to the size and utilization of the space itself. When developing a greener approach, one of the most effective methods of optimization is looking at how efficiently space is being used and then taking steps to improve it. When the physical space of the warehouse is being used at maximum efficiency, it reduces costs for the business as well as environmental externalities by removing the need for additional development and the energy required to link it into the supply chain.

Points to consider:

Improved stocking efficiency

  • Better packaging practices at the point of manufacturing

System footprints and planning space

  • Understanding layout optimization for the warehouse
  • Planning movement of goods across the floor along optimized pathways

Product and order tracking

As shipments of goods enter and depart from the warehouse, keeping track of their movements is fundamental. The right warehouse management software is an important tool for creating visibility over the movement of resources through a physical space, each movement of a product is directly tied to the spatial and energy efficiency of the warehouse.

Points to consider:

Warehouse management software

  • Understanding the movement of goods and people through the warehouse so that processes can be optimized around real-time data

Management of SKUs

  • Visibility improves resource usage up and down the supply chain. With the ability to track availability of items, trends in ordering can be identified and that information can be used to modify production

Picking, packing, and palletizing

These three Ps encompass the manipulation of SKUs in preparation to send them out to their destinations. Depalletizing can also be included within this category of task, where goods are unloaded to be stored within the warehouse after arriving from the manufacturing center. Manipulating items quickly must be balanced with the appropriate care in handling for each product to avoid damage.

When it comes to sustainable packaging in particular, countries like Australia are already moving to reduce single use plastics, paving the way for the adoption of sustainable alternatives. Taking the time now to evaluate how materials are being used and recycled within the warehouse presents opportunities to make positive changes, as well as potentially get ahead of those that may be required in the future.

Points to consider:

Green warehouse automation

  • Automation, when correctly applied, has the potential to influence energy and resource consumption so that warehouses become greener

(Credit: GlobeNewswire/ Caja Robotics)

Sustainable packaging materials

  • The warehouse contains both products and their shipping containers, as well as the materials that keep them safe and secured in transit. When single use materials are made of unsustainable materials, they contribute to plastic pollution.

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