Separate strategies for making a warehouse greener or leaner often complement each other. After all, they both aim to reduce waste and make the most of the resources you have. Since lean practices show such significant financial benefits, it is often the more commonly sought-out approach when it’s time for a change. Looking at the future of the industry, however, and even the planet, it’s worth your time to make sure that you’re running an operation that is environmentally mindful. Here are some simple ways that you can make your warehouse greener that will also lend to your lean model.
You can look at consumption in terms of both energy and resources. In a warehouse, there are a few obvious places where consumption can usually be decreased.
- Packaging – this is a really important opportunity because the right packaging will save you space, money, and environmental concerns. First, choose packaging that fits your product. The more compact it is, the less material is used to make it. Also, the more you can fit on a pallet and therefore on a shelf or in a storage area. Using strong but lightweight packaging materials will save you money on shipping, and using biodegradable or recyclable materials will reduce your carbon footprint.
- Lighting – you may have already investigated your options for energy-friendly lighting, but there may be more you can do. Some warehouses use sensors to only illuminate areas in use, thereby saving significantly on energy costs.
- Replace forklifts – whether you can completely eliminate forklifts or just substitute them for certain tasks, there are alternatives that will both boost productivity and reduce energy use. Battery-powered tugs are great tools to make individual workers capable of getting a lot more done. They are also safer than forklifts. Tugs use a fraction of the energy that forklifts require, and they reduce a lot of other wastes of lean. If you do need to keep forklifts, charge them during off-peak hours when energy costs are lower.
Reuse Everything You Can
Warehouses tend to lead the charge in material reuse. You probably already reuse pallets and totes. You may even reuse packaging you get from suppliers. One way to go the extra mile is to adopt a returnable packaging program for your products. Make it easy for customers to return your packaging. You’ll use less of it, being both green and lean, and customers will feel like they are part of an important effort to be environmentally responsible.
Recycle everything you can
If you don’t reuse your packaging, recycle it. If you don’t implement a returnable packaging program, use packaging that the customer can recycle. Make sure you’re also correctly disposing of and recycling (when possible) other materials like batteries, oil, and chemicals. Some recycling programs are free, which will reduce your costs in waste removal.
By focusing on how to have a greener, more sustainable warehouse, you will in turn find yourself with a leaner one as well. If you don’t have an alternative to forklifts, contact Load Mover Inc about the capabilities of a power tug. You’ll be surprised by the number of ways it can be used to save you time, money, and energy. Call us at 952-767-1720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.