Five ways to operate an energy efficient warehouse.
Have you ever heard the saying, Waste Not, Want Not? Going green in your business operation can be as simple as following this timeless advice.
In our warehouse, after safety, the most important rule is to be efficient in everything you do! Let’s explore some of the ways we operate our warehouse to save money and lower the impact we have on the environment.
Use electric forklifts instead of propane.
Use motion activated lighting.
Use skylights to reduce the need for lighting.
Recycle waste boxes into packing material.
Use evaporate cooling instead of air conditioning.
Electric Forklifts Vs. Propane Forklifts
Forklifts are an essential tool in any busy warehouse. We have a fleet of electric forklifts. Why electric?
They are zero emissions vehicles. By using electric forklifts there are no exhaust fumes in our warehouse. Our warehouse air quality is improved. Our employees and products are not exposed to fumes. We emit no greenhouse gases which helps the environment. In fact, in a study done by Yale Forklift, using an electric forklift vs. a propane forklift in our warehouse saves over 20,000 pounds of greenhouse gases per year. In addition, our regional power company makes extensive use of zero emission power plants, which means the electricity when created is also minimizing the amount of greenhouse gases used to power our forklifts.
They save lots of money. In a typical 8 hour shift an electric forklift uses about $4.00 worth of electricity. A propane forklift will use about $20.00 worth of propane. This adds up to over $4,000 per year in fuel savings. In addition to saving on fuel, an electric forklift has no need for engine oil, transmission fluid or radiator coolant.
By using electric forklifts we reduce our costs dramatically, improve the environmental conditions in our warehouse, and reduce the impact on mother earth.
Using Motion Activated Lighting
Lighting accounts for a large amount of both residential electricity usage and commercial usage. According to the US Energy Information Administration, over 19% of commercial electricity usage is for lighting. In an attempt to dramatically reduce our electricity usage we use motion activated lighting. This ensures that we are lighting an area of our warehouse when employees need the lighting but when an employee leaves the area the lights will turn off automatically after a few minutes. We estimate in our warehouse, this reduces our electricity needs for lighting by 70%, and reduces our overall electricity consumption by 40%.
Use Solar Lighting
What’s better than reducing your electric consumption? Eliminating it! In all our warehouses, we also have installed extensive skylights in the roofs. On sunny days there is enough light to eliminate the need for electric lighting. Using solar energy for lighting is not what people think about when they think of solar power, but it works great and is another way to reduce your costs and environmental impact.
Recycle Waste Boxes
In our warehouse, we receive in products from dozens of suppliers. Frequently the quality of the cartons the items are packed in is not sufficient to withstand the rigors of shipping with UPS and FedEx. To ensure the products arrived to our customers undamaged, we remove the items from the original packing and repack it in a stronger carton for shipping. This process creates 2 problems. First, each month we have thousands of cartons that cannot be used for shipping and need to be disposed of. Second, we must use packing material such as bubble wrap to cushion the products when they are shipped to our customers. Both steps have significant impacts on the environment and add costs to an operation. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Turn your unusable cartons into packing material! We use cardboard shredders to turn our cardboard waste into recyclable packing material. Saving money and eliminating waste at the same time.
Evaporate Cooling Vs. Air Conditioning
We all know how expensive air conditioning is. Just using it in your house in the summer really makes your electric bill skyrocket. Imagine how much it costs to air condition a warehouse. Because of the cost, most warehouses are not cooled. In the heat of the summer, the conditions in a hot warehouse will take a toll on the employees. It become difficult to concentrate, error rates get higher and productivity will decline. To protect our employees and keep productivity high, we use evaporate cooling in our warehouse. This requires very little power compared to air conditioning but can reduce the effective temperature by more than 10 degrees.
We employ many more methods to reduce our environmental impact and save money at the same time. This type of thinking allows us to continue to keep our costs as low as possible which translates into lower prices to our customers. Waste Not, Want Not is as true today as it was in past times and helps give you a competitive advantage.
By Rob Latham | April 3rd, 2016 | Distribution