Businesses are constantly looking for ways to trim their operating costs. Resources are scarce, and competition is squeezing profit margins. When you couple these trends with the rising logistics demands of consumers, operating efficiency and cost reductions must become a prime focus for distribution centers. Streamlining your supply chain not only promotes this efficiency, but it can also provide substantial operational savings at a time when “green” measures are implemented.
Of course, transportation is a major concern when it comes to green initiatives, as is cost control. However, your storage facility and the cost of its day-to-day operations is also a critical component not to be overlooked. Whether you are developing a new distribution center from the ground up or looking for ways to lower the expenses of your current facility, executing environmental objectives can benefit both the environment and your bottom line.
Consider the basic elements within a distribution center of lighting and heat can pay substantial dividends. Lighting and heat typically comprise the highest proportion of a warehouse’s “energy use profile.” The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that 60% of energy usage in warehouses is from lighting. The same data shows that 84% of natural-gas usage comes from heating.
Studying the ways that heat leaves your structure allows you to consider better insulation along the roof line, the installation of radiant heaters will concentrate heat only in the areas where needed, the use of heat retentive curtains, automatic doors and intelligent thermostats will all provide a positive return on investment.
Facility lighting can be streamlined with programmable switches and motion sensors to avoid energy waste. The use of LED lights over traditional metal-halide will ensure optimal lighting coverage with reduced energy consumption. Maximizing natural light through skylights can create an even bigger impact and reduce lighting costs by more than 50%. From an operational standpoint, when you focus on ways to efficiently light and heat your facility, the opportunity to save and reallocate corporate resources back into your supply chain can present a true cost advantage.
Recycling is another effective method by which to reduce your distribution center’s carbon footprint while also creating significant savings. Reusing and recycling packing materials not only promotes an environmentally friendly facility, but it can deliver ample savings as well. Recycling cardboard, plastic and paper materials can allow you to reallocate resources and reduce purchasing costs. Reusing pallets provides yet another avenue toward major cost saving opportunities. In fact, a Premier Handling Solutions report shows that 54% of pallets are only used once and then disposed. Not only is this a wasteful practice, but cutting down on your pallet inventory will cut down on your operational materials costs as well.
Finding incremental savings through sustainable initiatives within your distribution center will send a positive message through your entire organization. The bonus is that by making more environmentally friendly strides, you will find viable options that are not only good for the planet, but that are also good for business. Running a greener, more efficient warehouse should be the industry standard for everyone.
At Barrett Distribution, we are committed to sustainability, in both our own facilities and within customer solutions that we design and implement. We have embraced several sustainability initiatives as we work to reduce the carbon footprint of our U.S. warehouse network. To find out how we can design and implement a customized solution for your business, contact Barrett Distribution today.