Sustainability in logistics is all about making supply chain activities more sustainable, from the supply of raw materials through to the distribution of products and management of the product lifecycle. It’s becoming more and more important in logistics, especially as different factors in the production of goods are evolving from a linear model to a more circular one that minimises waste.

Businesses can benefit considerably from being more sustainable. They can build their reputation, become more environmentally responsible, create opportunities to form new partnerships, cut costs and make their supply chain more efficient, all by implementing more environmentally friendly practices and sustainable warehouse solutions. Below is a look at how warehouses can operate more sustainably and how warehousing automation plays a major role in this.

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an approach to sustainable warehousing

One of the best things about warehouses when it comes to operating in a more sustainable way is that there are so many opportunities to achieve it. Here are a few measures to consider:

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invest in automated loading technology

Warehouse loading and unloading processes take time and resources… too much and too many for the liking of some operators, which is why warehouse automation equipment for loading and unloading is such an important investment to make. Not only does it increase productivity by doing a lot of the heavy lifting and freeing up employees to perform other tasks, but it also enables companies to reduce the number of dock doors and trailers they use, which lowers the emissions from their operations. Drivers aren’t idling around when their trailer is parked up, and the businesses can optimise their routes, lowering fuel consumption.

We offer several different automated loading solutions, including the trailerskate, the moving floor conveyor and the slipchain, and also the modular rollerbed, which is a manual piece of loading equipment specially tailored to warehouses. These solutions help warehouses to save a substantial amount of time on their loading and unloading operations, and make them safer for employees, safe operation being another other ethical value of sustainability

Invest in more energy-efficient equipment

To operate your warehouse, it’s highly likely you’ll be using equipment that runs on electricity or petrol. As you have to replace equipment, try to do so with more energy-efficient equipment or machinery. Look at factors such as how many gallons per hour, miles per gallon or watts per hour the equipment consumes. When you upgrade, check the equipment operates as you need it to, and perform regular maintenance on it to preserve its efficiency. Keeping on top of maintenance helps to extend the lifespan of items and reduces the waste caused by having to upgrade frequently.

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Review your packaging

Less packaging equals less waste. If you can pack more efficiently, the packaging will weigh less, and you’ll enjoy lower shipping costs. Synthetic packaging materials take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, whereas biodegradable ones can do so in just a couple of years, and you can also place the latter on a compost heap. Switch to biodegradable packaging materials to cut down waste and decrease your carbon footprint.

Build upwards instead of outwards

As your warehouse grows, think about implementing practices and employing equipment that allows you to build vertically instead of horizontally. This takes up less horizontal space and can spare you the need to move to a larger warehouse. You can also get the most out of your warehouse space.

Insulate your warehouse well

Lousy insulation allows warm and cool air to escape from the building, which drives up heating and cooling bills and exerts an impact on the environment. Insulate your warehouse properly to contain climate-cooled air in the space it belongs. This will trim down your energy bills and lessen wear and tear on your heating and cooling systems.

loading automation and sustainable processes

Automated warehousing can have a range of sustainable benefits. Here are some of the main ones:

Tablet device with graphs displaying operational efficiency metric used for bench-marking and measuring operational efficiency

Lower energy consumption

Forklift trucks, like other vehicles or pieces of machinery, use either fuel or energy to operate. Lithium ion batteries, lead acid batteries, diesel and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) are the most common types for forklift trucks. Loading automation such as the solutions we offer at Joloda Hydraroll eliminates the need for forklift trucks during loading and, by doing so, help to diminish the warehouse’s fuel and energy consumption.

If you’ve implemented an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) in your warehouse, this is another opportunity to consume less energy and shrink the size of your carbon footprint. AS/RS systems can operate in the dark, so it won’t be necessary to use bright warehouse lighting (but be very careful to consider the potential health and safety implications around this).

Note that warehouse management systems, too, help to lower energy consumption, by optimising workflows. In a high-bay warehouse, the automated cranes run economically, as their design dictates, and have features such as regenerative braking to capture and use surplus energy to power equipment.

Safer operation

Loading automation makes operations much safer because the machinery takes care of transferring the heavy goods from the loading bay to the trailer and vice versa. Often, pallets and other cargo are heavy, and anyone who must unload them is at risk of the cargo falling on top of them when they enter a trailer because cargo moves move around slightly during transportation. Loading automation lowers this risk.

Another risk loading automation heavily diminishes is the risk of loading bay accidents involving forklift trucks. Our automated loading solutions stop forklift trucks from having to enter trailers to deposit or collect cargo from them. This reduces the risk of accidents caused by:

  • trailer creep, in which the impact of the repeated entry into the trailer and exit from it causes the trailer to edge away from the dock;
  • early drive-off, in which the truck driver drives away mistakenly while a forklift truck is still inside the trailer, entering it or leaving it;
  • and trailer pop-up or trailer up-ending, in which during loading and unloading, the weight of the forklift and the cargo in the trailer cause the end of the trailer or the nose to shift.

taking steps towards warehouse sustainability

Sustainable warehouse management is an important step for a business to take. Observation of sustainable business practices is sometimes the decisive factor in a customer’s decision of whether to purchase from you. Operating in an environmentally responsible way shows you’re trying to be a good corporate citizen by taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint and wastage and care for the planet. The safer operation of the warehouse by implementing sustainable practices also demonstrates care for the wellbeing of your employees.

When you become more sustainable by applying loading automation and other warehouse automation, you increase productivity in your warehouse. The equipment takes care of the gruelling tasks, freeing employees up to perform other tasks.

At the same time as boosting productivity and helping to make the business more competitive, the loading automation will help you to cut some of your operational costs. This places you within closer reach of your financial objectives.

If you’re interested in investing in one of our automated loading solutions to increase the sustainability of your business and enjoy the other benefits these solutions offer, feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to advise you on the best system for your warehouse and how it can improve your business.

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