Analyst Insight: Businesses seek efficiencies in their warehouse environment to reduce waste and help protect the environment. Warehouse waste can come in the form of excess packaging, energy usage, equipment utilization, and storage and transport operations. Warehouses can easily drive sustainability by better planning all activities to minimize total distance traveled inside a building.
Reducing Forklift Travel Inside a Building
By implementing sustainable practices in scheduling all work, warehouse operations can reduce their environmental impact and save money. One aspect of this is optimizing forklift travel distances within the warehouse. The average liquid propane forklift consumes about 1.5 gallons of fuel per hour, generating around 19 pounds of CO2 during that period. At a speed of 10 miles per hour, a forklift adds 1.9 pounds of CO2 to the environment for every mile traveled. Reducing the distance traveled inside the warehouse can significantly lower these emissions.
To minimize forklift travel distances, warehouses can implement the following strategies:
Other Easy Wins
Another warehouse waste that can harm the environment is poor warehouse positioning. Not having the warehouse at the right location means excess movement of trucks between the warehouse, production, distribution center, or manufacturing location. Correctly positioning a warehouse in the supply chain network can help the environment in several ways.
Connecting Production to Distribution Helps the Environment
It's pretty standard that the movement of products directly from production to various deployment destinations is challenging, due to the complex interplay of production, warehousing and transportation. Often, there is a mismatch between pre-built stock transfer orders (STOs) and what gets produced. Without the buffer of the warehouse storage, line-to-truck struggles to have a ready supply of trailers that match production. Trailers may have to wait idling in the warehouse yard until inventory is available to load the truck. Truck idling means carbon emissions and air pollution.
Technology exists that moves production runs directly to the truck, eliminating touches, reducing the need for storage space at the manufacturing site, and reducing truck idling while waiting for a product to be available for loading. This technology creates transportation requirements days in advance so that best-cost carriers can be engaged. As production changes, transportation can be rescheduled to match production schedules. Each hour, the need and timing of trailers and inventory are updated so everything is synchronized. The right amount of inventory is at the loading dock at the right time with the right amount of labor so that products are loaded quickly, and idling is reduced.
Reducing the distance between products and transportation speeds fulfillment, which in turn helps with sustainability efforts by having the correct number of trucks arrive at the location at the right time. Manufacturers can free up upwards of 10% of space capacity by moving products from production directly to the truck. Less warehouse space needed equals less energy used.
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