With the UK government's plans to achieve Net Zero and decrease emissions by 78% by 2035, sustainability has never been a more imperative initiative. Efforts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change range from reducing meat consumption, and introducing electric vehicles, to energy-efficient lighting, reducing plastic packaging, and introducing biodegradable materials.
Within the logistics and warehousing sector, these attempts at decarbonisation have also been reflected, in implementations such as Amazon’s electric fleet of vans, the adoption of new technologies, as well as recyclable boxes and bags, and last-mile deliveries by bicycle.
With just 14 years to make our great green mark, wonderful accomplishments have been achieved so far, yet specifically within our warehouse facilities, there is still a great deal of progress to be made. Here, The Supply Chain Network group share their thoughts on just what is required of a sustainable warehouse and how to best achieve this in 2021.
Best practice and lean efficiencies
Minimising waste, time, and resources are all valiant attempts to decarbonise lengthy operations processes which are no longer efficient. Whilst traditionally associated with manufacturing alone, lean principles can work to revolutionise the effectiveness of all supply chain practices.
One way to implement this includes reducing inventory stores to reduce costs. Another would be adopting new tech and integrating this within your warehouse facility to save energy whilst also increasing operational efficiency.
By making small changes within your facility, the money you save can be redistributed within your warehouse, to enable the adoption of other sustainability initiatives including new Materials Handling equipment, recycling areas, electric Fork-Lift Trucks, and eco-packaging options.
Streamlining, and bonded warehouses
Considering the increased pressure global supply chains are under due to a combination of Brexit, and the pandemic, Bonded Warehouses have become increasingly popular. These customs-controlled warehouses provide a secure space for your goods to be stored before payment of duty.
A whole host of businesses favour these facilities due to the benefits offered, including the ability for faster delivery provided by goods being stored closer to overseas customers; and the ability to delay payment of customs duties until the inventory has been released from the warehouse.
Streamlining your warehouse operations this way means you cut out unnecessary transit and expense, which saves you both time and money. Resources which are key to reinvesting back into your warehouse to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your processes, and in turn support a truly sustainable supply chain.
Reducing energy waste can include anything from water to electricity, to heat. Despite being the industrious buildings they are, warehouse managers can still work to ensure their facilities are challenging ever new methods for saving energy.
Water waste can be reduced by simple measures whether it be collected and reused for operational purposes or treated and used for other sanitary processes such as flushing toilets and landscape irrigation. Additionally, a more proactive approach means that water waste can be prevented too whether this is by installing low-flow pumps or harvesting rainwater for future use. Each small decision to prevent and reuse wastewater in your warehouse makes a big difference in achieving your facility's sustainability goals.
Another important resource, electricity can become eco-friendly by switching to LED low-energy bulbs. Whilst brighter you should find that you need fewer bulbs, and they usually last longer too, so your money is spent less frequently on investing in new light sources.
Further energy can be salvaged by reducing waste materials, reusing and recycling where possible.
The more money your business saves by employing sustainability initiatives within your warehouse, the more money you can afford to invest into new technologies. As the pandemic and the rise in eCommerce has taught us, efficiency and accuracy are key to maintaining a competitive and sustainable advantage over your competitors within the marketplace.
Warehouse management systems, security updates to prevent malware and ransomware attacks, and even in-house staff training and covid-safety prevention systems are all key requirements for the smooth running of today's warehouses.
Without these vital business continuity technologies, your business is left vulnerable, and when one area is compromised this could consequently affect all your business operations and dent your sustainability efforts. The most recent technology can ensure your time and effort is being spent on maintaining your current business operations, not cleaning up problems that may occur without it.
Achieve sustainability in 2021
Experts in all aspects of warehouse and network design, SCN understands the importance of remaining competitive in a dynamic industry and the critical data analysis required to achieve this. Specialists in Warehouse Design and Fit-Out, the SCN team can help you reach your facility’s fulfilment potential in 2021 and beyond. Visit www.scnuk.com to learn about the work that we do and to ensure you are ready and future-proof your business plans and warehouse design.
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