Many companies have taken the initiative to ‘go green’ and it is not uncommon to find office structures fitted with solar panels set in artistically designed ‘green’ grounds, staff re-cycling paper or opting to buy recycled office materials, or simple tactics such as using two or more marked bins to dispose of trash. Few however, take this inventiveness further than that. There is a new fad dubbed green warehouse. It an ingenious plan labeled online as, ‘greening your warehouse’ or ‘going green in your warehouse’.
What exactly is greening your warehouse?
Images of glass-green houses may pop-into your head but this is further from the truth when greening your warehouse.
The first step to in going green and greening your warehouse is to analyse just how ‘un-green’ your company warehouse is. Remember that going green in general includes introducing sustainable practices and routines that are energy-efficient, reduce the company’s environmental footstep as well as reducing costs in terms of waste-management and recycling.
The list is large and if you are not entirely sure what is, or is not ‘green’, it would be prudent to look for a green specialist.
Understanding that the warehouse is an important supply link between a company and the clients is one of the first steps when assessing the warehouse and it’s procedures. Make your way through the warehouse(s) with a check-list to assess:
● the buildings;
● equipment used;
● working systems/processes that the staff have to complete on a regular repetitive basis.
The buildings or main structure itself
As you walk around the warehouse building, take special note of drafts, lighting, and accessibility, i.e. movement within the building.
Drafts: What can be done to contain drafts and conserve energy? What are your options between using fans over air-conditioners in the summer? During winters, check seals on doors and windows and consider ways to keep the cold air out and warm air in.
Lighting: Could more natural light be used? Exploiting natural light in the form of skylights and high windows can dramatically reduce operational costs.
Equipment and accessibility
How easy is it for traffic to flow from one area to another? If a warehouse is poorly planned, flow can cause a ‘back-up’ or traffic jam especially at exit or entry points. Redesign your warehouse routes to make it simpler and quicker for forklifts to travel to and fro.
Designate areas for high demands and set them apart. Such areas should be given first priority as they make up for most of the transportation in and out of the ware house. Try creating more space to make such routes larger in order to allow entry and exit for 3 or more forklifts.
Improve and redesign the warehouse shelving systems so that they are more space efficient by taking into account your product sizes. Numbering and marking the warehouse shelving systems distinctly also minimises time loss for forklifts.
Finally, a good manager should emphasis on what can be recycled or re-used, as well as taking inventory and having good management practices to minimise out-of-date stock.Greening your warehouse is not impossible and may help to significantly reduce operational costs and other related expenses.