Automation is the buzz word of the moment and the subjects associated with it look set to increase in scope as the technology becomes part and parcel of warehouse life. Much has been said already about the efficiency that can be gained from it use, and the long term cost savings achieved by businesses that choose to invest.
Improving distribution productivity is not the only way in which significant cost savings can be made. Managing your energy use within the facility is key to making the most out of the tools at your disposal. It is not necessarily a subject that gets people fired up, but given how much finance is spent on heating, lighting and powering operations, its importance is too often overlooked.
The Carbon Trust conducted a survey last year and found that half of the 1,000 SMEs questioned were concerned about the cost of their energy bills. The organisation believe that savings up to 20-30% can be found through the implementation of energy efficient measures and the simple changing of routines. Below are some of the ways in which you can begin to lower the costs within your distribution centre.
Keeping the warehouse fully lit enhances safety and provides a better working environment for those who work within it. Naturally, this will mean a lot of lights, which in turn requires a lot of energy expenditure. LED lights are the best alternative to help reduce energy bills and they can also last up to 50% longer than traditional bulbs. As a recyclable material they allow you to play your part in contributing to a sustainable environment. They also emit far less heat, which helps to reduce temperature levels during the summer and in-turn lowers the use of air conditioning, cutting costs even further.
There are two ways in which doors impact on energy efficiency; their age and condition and by being left open throughout the day. When left open, heat is lost and heaters and/or cooling systems have to work harder to balance out the change in temperature. Older warehouse doors can sometimes be unreliable and slower to close, which is why the easier option is to leave them open. Ensuring there are no gaps or cracks is equally important, as is checking they are fully insulated to help maintain optimal temperature in the space.
Making full use of space
As we discussed in our article about mezzanine flooring, there are a lot of advantages to be gained from their installation into industrial spaces. One we didn’t mention at the time is energy savings. Working vertically instead of expanding operations across the ground maximises space and often means relocation is not a requirement. This obviously saves costs on the move and purchasing/rental costs, but also saves on the higher energy bills a new facility would naturally incur. If going green is a key business objective, new premises might also mean updating logistical roots and an increase in your carbon footprint.
Manage your HVAC system
In modern warehouses, HVAC systems are typically responsible for powering the heating, cooling and ventilation. The most important question to ask is, how much time and effort goes into its maintenance? There are two answers to this questions; either you are spending too much on repairs and problem solving, or you keep the filters clean and schedule regular check-ups. Those who relate to the first response can easily feel the benefit of implementing a simple schedule for check-ups. Also think about areas not in use that do not need to be cooled or heated on a regular basis, as this should produce noticeable cost savings.
The management of waste has both a direct and indirect effect on your green initiatives. Ensuring unwanted and damaged materials are cleared from the facility keeps employees safe and maximises space. To improve your carbon footprint, ensure batches of materials are separated from each other and disposed of using recyclable options. The easiest thing to do is to dump everything in the nearest landfill, which ultimately goes against every over energy efficient change you may implement inside your premises.
In most cases, when it comes to maximising space in a warehouse or storage facility, the focus is heavily centred upon the ground floor. Reconfiguring operations in this area makes sense, of course, but consideration should always be given to the vertical space within the building. Mezzanine flooring is the ideal solution for companies working in constricted spaces who need to expand but are not in a position to consider moving to larger premises. In this blog we’ll talk through how mezzanine flooring can add significant benefits to the logistics in your warehouse.
Storage needs are an ongoing issue in any successful retail business and mezzanine flooring offers a relatively cheap and easy solution. This is the primary reason why people look at purchasing this particular style of storage. Large warehouses in particular benefit as they begin to make use of the empty space that has been going to waste for quite some time. The height of the facility will dictate how many floors can be added but mezzanine flooring allows you to capitalise on the full area under your control.
Avoid moving the business
The continued growth of online retailing is producing an interesting conundrum for a number of businesses. Price competition is fierce and the need to minimise overheads is key to remaining competitive. Yet sustained order growth creates the need to expand to keep up with demand. Moving is a cost all in itself, let alone taking on the financial weight of a new warehouse. The installation of mezzanine flooring shouldn’t be viewed as a short-term fix. However, if you do reach the point where even this is not sufficient, then you may be more ready for that move than you believe.
The simple construction of mezzanine flooring is reflected in its cost. It is a reliable and cost effective way to maximise the workspace. It not only creates extra capacity but increases efficiency and provides a positive knock-on effect to the organisation in the areas that have been relieved of unsustainable storage. Small businesses benefit enormously from this option, successfully planning incremental expansion without unnecessary investment.
Regulations and rules in this area have been tightened significantly over the past couple of decades, much to the benefit of the staff who work there. Mezzanine floors offer an ideal vantage point for supervisors and managers to get a full overview on any potential dangers occurring within the warehouse. It also provides a visual view of the product flow in and out of the facility, which can prove to be a valuable way of making small but meaningful changes to work processes.
The flexibility of mezzanine flooring allows it to be used for more than just storage space. Growth within a company means more than just finding extra space to store more goods. Increased product demand requires more warehouse staff and office workers to maintain the back office administrative side of the business. If office space is limited, mezzanine flooring can be utilised to create new workspace too. It can be designed and function in the same way as any other office space and presents a practical long-term solution for the business.
The installation of mezzanine flooring can work for warehouses of any size. For those in need of creative solutions on a tight budget, this is likely to be an option worth considering. Rather than be cornered into moving the business or expanding at an unnecessary rate, this style of storage will help to maximise the potential of your current storage space. And with the option to construct muli-level mezzanine flooring, the sky really is the limit.