How To Ensure Your Warehouse Is Energy Efficient
Friday, June 21st, 2019
Automating warehouses is a good first step for companies looking to maximise energy efficiency. By automating manual warehousing operations, companies can achieve financial and business management sustainability benefits in the long run. By Poul Lorentzen, General Manager, Consoveyo Singapore.
What are some of the current challenges in ensuring that a food and beverage warehouse is energy efficient?
Increasing demand for companies to adopt environmentally sound business practices have resulted in a growing number of manufacturers looking for simple ways to demonstrate their dedication toward making day-to-day operations energy efficient. Where F&B companies are concerned, warehouses often own large energy footprints, yet are a key component of the F&B supply chain.
The cost for operating equipment in warehouses can be high—especially in conventional warehouses, where traditional equipment such as forklift trucks are used. Forklift trucks have high-energy consumption levels, which lead to high operating costs. By upgrading to automated, energy efficient equipment like conveyors, automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) and so on, F&B warehouse operators can reduce their operational costs. However, the high initial cost of investment for these types of automated equipment is often viewed as a big deterrence for many warehouse operators, who do not realise that the savings provided by energy efficient solutions can far outweigh the high operating costs of conventional equipment.
Another challenge F&B warehouse operators face is in maximising all available storage volume in a warehousing facility. This is essential for efficient material handling, order picking and storage processes, personnel movement, and equipment handling. The inefficient use of warehouse space can lead to excess utility, unnecessary labour costs, and lower asset utilisation.
Warehouse operators also have to overcome misconceptions that energy efficient automated storage equipment will have a negative impact on operational flexibility. In reality, energy efficient equipment such as stacker cranes allow full control of warehouse activities while ensuring error-free, smooth, fast, and safe storage and retrieval operations.
What are some of the solutions available in the market?
Generally, warehouses can integrate green warehousing practices such as daylighting technologies, including skylights, photocell sensors, and so on. These practices can save energy costs for companies in the long run. Warehouses can be fitted with solar panels or light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. Additionally, braking forces on automated equipment can be converted into electricity, in turn regenerating power for the automated equipment in the warehouse. Also, the speed of conveyors can be adjusted, so that the equipment can run at a slower pace, or be turned off when not in use.
Automated warehousing solutions can also lead to significant energy savings as they require fewer operatives and have reduced the need for manual labour.
What would Consoveyo recommend to maximise energy efficiency?
Automating warehouses is a good first step for companies looking to maximise energy efficiency. By automating manual warehousing operations, companies can also achieve financial and business management sustainability benefits in the long run. Furthermore, automated solutions are generally more reliable, longer lasting, and use less energy as compared to traditional warehouse equipment. For example, F&B companies switching to barcoding or RFID technologies will see a reduction in paper consumption as they changeover to a largely digital approach—a simultaneous step towards environmental sustainability.
In addition to automation, companies can also instil simple warehousing practices such as ‘lights-out operation’ as lights are generally required only during routine maintenance checks. For instance, automated technologies like Consoveyo’s stacker cranes can function independently without human supervision, hence powering lights in the warehouse is an unnecessary form of expenditure.
Companies looking to install energy efficient solutions may consider intralogistics technology providers to review current warehouse layout prior to proposing new customised automated storage solution systems. Consultation can include collecting operation data on actual facility throughput, information on warehouse structure requirements such as loading and levelness, precision data on floor flatness, and even weather information as it relates to possible impact on warehouse structure durability. By incorporating these factors into the warehouse design, companies can take a big positive step towards achieving energy efficiency and increasing productivity along their supply chain.
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