Going green in the warehouse – Energy efficiency all wrapped up

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Logistics by definition is not environmentally sustainable, yet there are both material and moral grounds for environmentally friendly logistics which modern businesses cannot afford to ignore. Social and environmental responsibility, customers’ expectations and legal regulations all demonstrate that the impetus for green thinking is multi-faceted and show that the subject is increasingly prominent in the daily life of logisticians.

For example, route and transport optimisation is now a major part of road-based logistics. However, green logistics does not stop here and needs to be backed up by the relevant intralogistics in warehouses and distribution centres. In this regard, logistical facilities offer many possible solutions for eco-friendly optimisation. Starting with the site selection, as experienced logistics planners, we understand the traditional principles of all the commercial, legal and economic aspects that govern the selection of the ideal site. Environmental factors, which were barely relevant in the past, have now undergone a massive change. New issues such as, multimodal transport, alternative building materials and environmentally friendly surface sealing, have to be taken into consideration.

Logisticians can use cross-sector developments in the architecture of warehouses and distribution centres. Knowledge of energy optimisation, insulation, production of renewable energy and the adoption of more sustainable building materials can be directly put in place. However, when it comes to logistics facilities inside buildings, the standard requirements of capacity, speed, economy, expandability and ergonomics need to be achieved in an equally ‘green’ way.  As planners, we always rise to the challenge of the new ‘green’ perspective with both proven and innovative methods.  Here are some examples:

  • Arrangement of workspaces in layout using natural resources such as sunlight and heat from solar radiation together with cooling through underground construction. Introduction of (more) efficient systems including lightweight construction, efficient and size-appropriate drive systems, inverter technology, reduced frictional resistance and energy recovery Efficient processes for storing and processing – reduction of all transport, optimised IT
  • Modular layout of site with standby option for low load operation
  • Use of light and heat as needed i.e. lighting control, motion sensors, heaters, temperature zones, etc.
  • Use of alternative building materials, e.g. wood in conveyor systems and in automatic small parts storage
  • Selection of environmentally friendly but durable storage and shipping materials, reduction of consumables and separation of recyclables.
  • Optimisation of filling levels in packages, calculating precision-fit packaging

This set of measures can be fine-tuned to individual customer requirements. Our experience also shows that employee motivation in the common goal of sustainability in logistics is extremely promising. Each member of staff can not only work in a more environmentally friendly way, such as through appropriate lighting or adapting driving behaviour in forklift trucks, but also through self-initiated optimisation. As planners we know that it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel in order to achieve a much more sustainable in-house logistics; but rather that ’Green Logistics’ is simply another aspect to consider in integrated logistics planning.pierau-planung-green-log-grafik-09-2016


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