Businesses know they need to do their bit to protect the planet, especially in light of the targets that have been set to help cut carbon emission in the next decade or so.
But where should they look? The vehicles they use and the things these pump into the atmosphere? The materials that go into their products and how friendly they are to the planet? Well, yes, to both of those. But there are other things that can also be done in the drive to become leaner and meaner. Things that might not necessarily be the most obvious of places to start.
One of these is warehouses. An analysis from the Energy Efficiency Financing Scheme found that £190 million was being ‘overspent’ in warehouses in the UK alone.
The report – the work of the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services – found that this money was being wasted on energy bills as a result of inefficient technology, equipment and procedures.
Yet that report is now a few years old and it’s already possible to see steps to improve the efficiency of warehouses to claw back that cash.
One basic way in which has been tackled is through the use of more energy efficient lighting. LED bulbs have become much more commonplace in homes and workplaces across the country and their use has also filtered through to warehouses which, by their very nature, are big spaces that can require a lot of light.
Where these aren’t practical, consider compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) and energy-saving halogen bulbs. Motion detection systems also help to ensure that the lights are off when not required – and don’t even rely on employees to remember to as much as flick a switch. They can also automatically adjust the brightness of lights, depending on the amount of natural light.
Using Mother Nature’s benefits to produce energy is also something that has recently become more popular in the warehouse industry. From wind turbines to solar panels to water harvesting, there are many ways in which the energy needed for warehouses has been reduced.
The sorts of materials used in the average warehouse are now much more widely recycled and reused – from repurposed pallets through to better recycling of plastic packaging.
Then there’s the actual work done within the warehouse environment. From industrial spray booths using eco-friendly reusable media through to greater automation of some working practices to boost efficiency – the preparation and distribution of items within warehouses has vastly improved in recent times.
Finally, bigger and better warehouses are being constructed by distributors who have developed sophisticated and efficient supply chains. By positioning warehouses in the right locations, companies can place their products in the right place to meet demand at short notice and without the need to transport them over long distance by plane or haulage – which in itself is bad for the environment. The collection and monitoring of data allows companies to spot and predict demand too.
All in all, lighting, energy production, recycling, work processes and complex logistics systems means that the warehouse is a big part of a leaner and greener business environment.