These six environmental changes will help keep your warehouse costs down
Here, Kelly Friel from industrial tools retailer Zoro outlines just some of the changes we can make to your warehouse to save money and the planet.
As more and more businesses are deciding to make a stand against climate change, you may be becoming more aware of how your processes are affecting the environment. Your warehouse is a hugely important element of your supply chain, and there are some changes you can implement to make it more eco-friendly.
Not only will these changes help to save the planet, but they can actually help to reduce your warehouse management costs too, either by reducing energy consumption or by cutting back on material waste. And, showing that you’re taking conscious steps towards making your business more eco-friendly can give your brand image a serious boost.
From lighting to layout, I’ll be outlining six ways you can make your warehouse more environmentally friendly and keep costs down.
Switch to energy efficient lighting
Warehouses need a lot of bright lighting, and all that energy needed to power them is doing more harm than good to your wallet and the environment. I’d recommend swapping your traditional warehouse lighting, like incandescent and halogen bulbs and light bars, for a more eco-friendly and energy efficient option. LEDs are a much better alternative to these traditional lighting solutions because they have a relatively low voltage and high output, meaning they take less energy to produce the same amount of light. Unlike halogen and incandescent bulbs, they also don’t waste any energy converting it to heat, so you’re getting a lot more light for your money.
Due to their downsides, these traditional forms of lighting are actually in the process of being phased out, so making the switch to LEDs now makes more sense for your business in the long run.
Add more windows
As another alternative to traditional lighting, you could consider installing more windows into your warehouse. Although it’s more costly and difficult to do, you’ll get more benefits from it than just switching your light bulbs. The influx of natural light will help boost employee morale and the warmth from the sun will add an extra source of heating in the colder months. This means you won’t need to spend as much money on your energy bills, because the sun will be doing some of the lighting and heating for you.
Invest in better warehouse insulation
Bad insulation could be costing you a lot more in your energy bills than you should be paying. In the winter, valuable heat could be escaping through vents and gaps in doors and windows. In the summer, any cool air you’ve generated with your air conditioning could be escaping, too.
Make sure that your vents, windows and doors have as few gaps as possible to stop warm and cold air escaping. Windows should be double glazed, and you should advise all staff to close doors after them when they’re not in use. PVC curtains are a relatively cheap way to add an extra layer of insulation to your entryways, especially those that need to be left open for long periods of time.
Change your waste management
All warehouses produce waste in some form, but could some of your discarded materials actually be reused or recycled? Pallets and crates left over from deliveries can be used again and again, meaning they won’t need to be sent to landfill and you won’t need to spend money buying more.
Carboard and paper should be recycled wherever possible. Consider shredding your old paper and card to use as packing materials to keep parcels protected. You could even consider making the swap to more eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging for all of your products instead. These are just as strong and durable as their traditional alternatives but are made from natural fibres instead of harmful plastics.
Improve warehouse layout and efficiency
Another way you can help to reduce your company’s carbon footprint is by generating a more efficient warehouse layout. This can be as simple as breaking up your shelving to create cross-aisles, which will make it a lot easier for operatives and pickers to move from one place to another. This will reduce the amount you’ll be spending on unnecessary quantities of fuel for forklifts and other picking equipment, and will reduce your carbon emissions, too.
As time goes on and your products change, you might find that your current warehouse layout that was once highly efficient isn’t really working anymore. Keep reviewing your layout every now and again, highlighting issues and ways to solve them, in order to keep efficiency as high as possible.
Opt for more energy efficient equipment
From forklifts to conveyor belts, your equipment is a very important aspect of your supply chain. But, the more of these machines you have, the more you’re going to be spending on fuel. Of course, a more efficient layout can help to reduce some of these costs, but you should also be thinking about investing in more energy efficient alternatives.
Consider swapping your equipment for their electric counterparts, which will eliminate the release of harmful fossil fuels into the atmosphere. You can implement this further into your logistics by investing in electric vehicles to transport your goods through the supply chain.
Not only will these vehicles help the environment, but they could actually cost you less to run compared to their petrol-powered alternatives, according to British Gas. All you’ll need to do is install charging locations around your property and allow equipment time to charge when it’s not in use.
If you’ve got multiple pieces of equipment that can perform the same job, why have them working separately? This can cost you extra money on your energy bills and can reduce warehouse efficiency. Try to streamline your processes by choosing machinery that can carry out multiple roles.
By implementing even a few of these changes, you can help to make your warehouse more eco-friendly and save yourself some money in the process.
How real-time visibility of the supply chain can help mitigate food waste
In today’s market, consumer demands have not only driven supply chain efficiencies for greater speed and convenience but are increasingly now forcing retailers to address expectations of improved sustainability. The consequences of keeping up with customers’ wishes aren’t always easy and may have an adverse effect on short term business plans and processes, especially if your supply chain isn’t as seamless and transparent as it should be. Even the smallest of inefficiencies can add up and lead to all manner of waste during production, transport and even disposal.
Over recent years, the grocery market has come under scrutiny and intense pressure to re-evaluate its approach to tackling food waste, with around 88 million tonnes worth being generated yearly across the EU, a staggering 40% of food doesn’t even make it to the market.
The problem is, without real-time insight into the exact status and condition of product and inventory within the end-to-end supply chain, what options do companies have to address waste and improve customer engagement? Amir Harel, General Manager of Visibility Solutions at Zetes, explores how complete real-time, intelligence-driven visibility of the supply chain can help mitigate food waste.
The Lack of Supply Chain Visibility
The world is ready for change. According to REFRESH, an EU research project acting against food waste, resources being lost and wasted in Europe would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world twice over. It’s a message that consumers around the world are taking to heart. From reusable bags to paper straws, and bottle-free toiletries to meat-free diets, people are taking real steps to reduce waste, and they expect the businesses they buy from to do the same.
In the UK, for instance, grocers have encouragingly pledged to halve their food waste from ‘farm to fork’ by 2030. Whilst we commend large retailers for deploying innovative ideas such as the introduction of ‘wonky veg’ - vegetables that do not meet the aesthetic requirements of supermarkets due to shape or appearance – are now being sold in supermarkets to help combat waste, it is analysing the production of waste on a more granular level that will achieve a positive environmental impact at a far greater scale and have more effect.
Yet, recent research from Sapio, on behalf of Zetes, reveals that the current levels of supply chain visibility are far from perfect, with a staggering 94% of organisations surveyed saying they lack transparency throughout their supply chain.
To implement an appropriate resolution, it is imperative that the cause of waste is understood. There are so many contributors – from the excess inventory that arises from poor and/or delayed forecasting and orders, to time lost during the distribution process coupled with inefficient transportation models can be devastating for any short shelf-life products. Just 30% of organisations have full visibility of goods in transit. As a result, addressing the food waste that occurs at every stage of the supply chain is a complex task.
Research highlights that 79% believe that improved visibility would have a material effect on cutting wastage. As a taste of the potential savings, it’s estimated that supply chains could reduce food waste alone by €240bn.
For example, reducing empty miles, improving first time in full delivery, minimising unnecessary stock movement between stores, avoiding forecasting or ordering disputes and achieving far more intelligent routing, are all critical components for an efficient supply chain that minimises waste.
Having complete visibility and traceability of products is also key to a resilient supply chain, which is especially important when recalls and faults in production can cause crisis situations and disruptions. When retailers are able to share data throughout their supplier ecosystem in real time, they can create the foundations for better collaboration based on stronger connections and highly effective dynamic forecasting.
It is also essential that companies understand how technology can be deployed and utilised to address each challenge – whether that is waste reduction through improved transportation or more accurate and dynamic levels of stock availability.
So, where to start?
Environmental consciousness in the digital age will continue to have a huge impact on retailers. The vision to transform ‘farm to fork’ and remove food waste from the supply chain is big. To succeed, retailers need to start small, identifying priority areas first, where quick and impactful wins can be realised. As they start to see results, they will be able to scale fast and ultimately achieve full end-to-end intelligence-driven visibility.
Zetes’ Supply Chain Visibility Research Report surveyed 451 respondents in the UK, France, Germany and Spain. All interviews were conducted in December 2018 and January 2019