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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Sales and Marketing > Marketing Management > Distribution & Wholesale for Green Businesses

Greener Supply Chain Distribution

Supply chain solutions start with effective use of fuel and building space, and green strategies take effectiveness a step further for double savings.

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From fuel conservation to the latest in green building and remodeling strategies such as LED lighting, insulated heating, and high efficiency cooling technologies can be used to green your own warehousing and your supply chain engagement.

Companies around the world are incorporating a large number of eco-friendly special features such as solar walls, on-site recycling, and heat-reducing power plants to reduce their carbon footprints.

Most logistics experts are finding cost effective ways to help their clients go green on a budget. And in ways that pay off for many years to come. "Good logistics engineering is not only compatible with greener business practices, it’s actually synonymous with it," reported one logistics engineer.

Site Selection is First

Facility location selection is a current "best practice" because a vast majority of companies’ supply chain costs have always been tied to the “where” of their warehouses. Remote locations drive transportation costs higher because they require trucks to travel longer routes -- and well-situated distribution centers are equally attractive from a carbon footprint perspective. The fewer miles trucks and trains must travel, the less environmental impact.

Optimize your warehouse network often

Frequent refinements are needed to make sure your facilities are running as efficiently as they should. In building this is called "commissioning" -- the process of making sure that equipment is well maintained and functional, hoses are insulated, old equipment is taken off line, etc.

Optimize Distribution Center Facility Layout

The average facility forklift logs hundreds of miles every year, and whether it’s using gas, propane, or electricity, simply shortening the journey from your most popular products’ slots to the dock can significantly reduce its energy requirements — and ultimately your company’s carbon footprint and overall expense.

Monitor Average Throughput of Warehouses

Idling trucks outside your docks burn a lot of unnecessary diesel fuel — a sure sign you may need to do the truckers and the environment a favor by revamping your delivery scheduling.

Simple green solutions

Simply by revamping the lighting in your facility with energy efficient (Energy Star rated) lighting that uses fluorescent or LED technologies could help reduce your light-related electricity requirements by as much as 70%.

Simply placing motion sensors or timers in key areas of your warehouse to trigger lights to turn on only when people are working there will reduce energy use even more.

Comparable sensors and controls are cost effective solutions for heating and cooling functions so they can be more closely tied to what’s actually taking place within the warehouse.

When coupled with effective standard maintenance procedures such as making sure docks and ceilings are properly sealed, you can develop significantly more efficient climate control.

Don't limit your sights to the indoors. Look outside, and up. Lighter-colored roofing and paving materials can reduce a facility’s heat island effect and investing in higher-quality insulation materials, window weatherstripping, and good ventilation can reduce sick building syndrome from accumulating emissions and offgasing, as well as reduce energy and water use.

Replacing urinals with high efficiency units or even waterless urinals can save significantly in a male-dominated business setting! Urinals are one of the most water intense wastes in business settings.

Many areas of the United States have been experiencing severe droughts, prompting some companies to install stormwater retention and irrigation techniques for their landscaping or to incorporate Xeriscaping principles such as drought-resistant shrubs around their warehouses. Water recycling is also available in some places. Even a natural pond with cattails and other aquatic filters can help improve runoff water and make a comfortable resting place for your trucker buddies.

Energy Generation at Distribution Centers & Warehouses

Newly constructed distribution centers are increasing their use of skylights and windows to optimize use of natural light in many parts of their facility.

Large warehouse roofs just beg for solar panels, an ideal scenario to cut energy costs since warehouses are so flat and sunlight is so available. Between state and federal incentives and tax deductions, many systems can save as much as 50% on installation, and generate savings for years to come.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the cost of electricity from this clean power source has dropped by more than 80 percent over the past two decades, with more cost improvements still to come as technology improves and more wind power plants are constructed. However, the up-front expense for the turbines and other materials needed to get started is still steep and has actually gotten higher in recent years.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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