The ever-rising mercury and consistent heatwaves over the years have laid bare the dire effects of global warming and climate change, highlighting the importance of going green for a more sustainable future.
Manufacturers must be responsible and focus their green initiatives on sustainable measures where possible. An easily achievable win that manufacturers can focus on is building sustainable warehousing. The carbon footprint of warehouses, while lower per square metre (33 kWh/m2) as compared to other facilities, remains alarmingly high due to the sheer size of these facilities.
Therefore, it is important for manufacturers to shift towards an efficient and sustainable warehousing system. Establishing such a system requires careful planning, thoughtful implementation, and ongoing process monitoring. Here are three steps manufacturers should take to achieve sustainable warehousing:
1) Optimise your warehouse layout and design
Manufacturers can enhance operational efficiency and maximise productivity by optimising warehouse layout and design. By evaluating the existing flow of materials, products and workers within the warehouse, warehouses can be built to avoid bottlenecks and minimise areas of inefficiency.
Manufacturers should consider factors such as size, weight, temperature sensitivity and storage conditions when designing the layout. This helps them choose suitable storage systems that align with the nature of the products such as pallet racking, shelving, mezzanines, or automated storage and retrieval systems.
For even better results and optimisation, manufacturers should tap Industry 4.0 technologies and implement warehouse management systems or automation solutions to optimise inventory control, order picking and tracking. These technologies can enhance accuracy and speed in warehouse operations, as well as automate processes.
2) Use eco-friendly building materials and work towards net zero carbon building
Manufacturers can play a crucial role in promoting sustainability by using eco-friendly building materials that have a lower carbon footprint. This includes materials like recycled steel, reclaimed wood, bamboo or cork, thus reducing their environmental impact and contributing to a more sustainable construction industry.
By taking into consideration ventilation needs, warehouses can be kept cooler or warmer based on the materials used, thus decreasing electricity costs associated with temperature control.
Manufacturers should also embrace renewable energy sources and power their facilities with clean energy such as solar or wind power. By transitioning to clean energy, manufacturers can significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with their operations.
3) Choose the right location
To further minimise environmental impact and optimise supply chain efficiency for sustainable warehousing, manufacturers should consider the accessibility of the warehouse to various stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, delivery partners and employees. This can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by minimising transportation distances and costs.
Manufacturers should also consider the climate where the warehouse is situated to decide the types of goods that are stored there.
What else can manufacturers do on the sustainability front?
Besides sustainable warehousing, manufacturers need to be more mindful about the various scopes of greenhouse gas emissions they are producing.
By adopting circular economy principles, manufacturers can lower their carbon footprint even more as they strive to achieve a more sustainable manufacturing future. To assist manufacturers in identifying factory improvements in their quest towards net zero, a sustainability maturity prioritisation index like the Consumer Sustainability Industry Readiness Index (COSIRI) can chart a clearer path towards greener outcomes.