Green Initiatives in Warehousing
Resistance to “going green” is often attributed to the up-front costs and the difficulty calculating true return on investment for each energy saving initiative. However, incorporating energy conservation into warehousing can lead to serious costs savings. Some initiatives cost very little to implement and can be carried out quickly. Others require more research, outside assistance and resources (financial and otherwise). We’ll walk you through some of the most common initiatives we see.
Does your company recycle wooden pallets? If not, it’s easy to do. The number of companies that would be happy to recycle pallets has skyrocketed. Simply do an internet search for “pallet recycling [insert your city/state here].”
Energy Efficient Warehousing Equipment
If you use internal combustion forklifts, consider making the transition to electric trucks. Check out the benefits and improved performance of electric forklifts, there’s never been a better time. Plus, Toyota’s range of high-capacity electric forklifts makes it easier to switch from propane or diesel forklifts with higher capacities.
If your operation makes IC forklifts a necessity, there’s still plenty of options to ensure they’re operating at peak efficiency and leaving a minimal carbon footprint:
- Duty Cycle Analysis – Have you reviewed the duty cycles of your material handling equipment lately? As pallet locations are shifted or added to your facility, your equipment can end up pulling some pretty long duty cycles. Ask your operators for their input. They operate these routes daily and will be the first line of defense against long runs and wasted fuel.
- Planned Maintenance – A professional forklift service provider has the equipment to ensure that each engine is tuned properly and emissions are minimized.
- Forklift Tire Care – Worn and damaged tires increase resistance, and therefore increase fuel consumption and emissions. Read more on the best time to replace your forklift tires to prevent unnecessary fuel consumption.
- Forklift Operator Training – Make sure your operators are trained not only to operate your forklifts safely but that they also understand the best way to operate the forklift to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Consider adopting company policies on forklift operation, for example zero-idle or stated speed limits.
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology
If your facility or warehouse is still using paper to generate orders and track inventory, then RFID will save you thousands in not only paper, but will make your operation more efficient, accurate and profitable. RFID technology not only applies to your inventory but it can also be applied to your forklift fleet to analyze duty and use cycles as well as manage safety and track abuse.
Providing incentives is a great way to persuade employees to ride to and from work together. Carpooling helps reduce the pollution emitted into the environment, plus it saves money for your employees.
While installing solar panels can be a considerable investment, it certainly will pay off in the long run. Companies will often start small with a few panels, and then add more as cash flow allows. Return on this investment is immediate and continues each and every month. There are often local, state and federal assistance and/or tax incentives to generate solar power. This article from the Food Bank in Concord California shows how this nonprofit has reduced its energy bills from about $4000 a month to $150 once the solar panels were installed.
Energy Efficient Warehouse Improvements
There is a plethora of affordable products that you can implement in your warehouse. Fans, curtains, windows, ceiling fans and skylights are great ways to quickly and cost-effectively improve energy production and retention in your facility. You can reduce your energy costs even further by using LED ultra-low wattage light bulbs. Some are less than 3 watts!
Energy Policies in the Office
Energy efficiency doesn’t have to end in the warehouse. There are plenty of simple changes you can implement in your office space too.
- Lighting - Just as in your warehouse, switch to low-wattage LED bulbs in your offices and have policies about when lights are to be turned off, particularly in the evening when the office and other facilities are vacant.
- Computers – Only allow essential computers to be on in the evening. Power all of them down at night and over the weekend. Be sure computers are set to go to sleep after a pre-determined amount of idle time.
- Toilets – Low-flow toilets pay for themselves in just a few years.
- Thermostat – Have a programmable thermostat that changes the temperature to maximize the efficiency of your office and facility energy consumption.
- Going Paperless - Some companies have gone as far as to remove file cabinets and printers from their offices. The money and waste saved simply from ink and paper can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars for the typical medium-sized office. If going completely paperless isn’t an option, try cutting down on unnecessary printing and minimize use of the color cartridge. When you run out of toner, the cartridges can be recycled.
Start small. Make a list and implement the measures that make the most sense for your operation. Most importantly, inform your employees of your stance on energy and resource usage. With them on board, your job will be a lot easier.
Read up on practical warehouse space optimization tips.