Creating a sustainable warehousing process is all about balancing the social, environmental and economic requirements of the warehouse operations. The entire process, from supplier to end receiver, is one which requires considerable analysis.
There has been research into environmental impact on supply chains, but much emphasis has been on the transportation elements independently. When approaching environmental supply lines from a wider angle, there are many different elements at play, with warehouse management and inventory management being one which is often downplayed.
Despite this, warehousing typically serves as a major output of emissions, and so developing a robust solution should be critical to a robust management strategy.
Considerations in sustainable warehouse management
Though transport to warehousing remains one of the key causes of business emissions in general, other factors within the warehouses themselves, such as heating, cooling, lighting and conditioning, also have a large impact.
Additional elements such as human activity are also a consideration. With multiple employees travelling to, and operating within, warehouse premises, this can lead to considerable emissions - which may not be properly accounted for.
Balancing business, environmental and consumer needs
Creating a sustainable warehousing process is a balancing act between business and environmental requirements. As posited by Kah-Shien Tan, M. Daud Ahmed and David Sundaram in their paper on Sustainable Warehouse Management: "Sustainable warehouse is about integrating, balancing and managing the economic, environmental and social inputs and outputs of the warehouse operations."
With this in mind, one of the first steps for creating a sustainable logistics chain is to set environmental goals that fit with business goals. Taking these goals seriously is crucial, as too often it is easy to set aside environmental impact in place of immediate profitability.
When sustainability is a major consideration, however, it can have a much larger impact on business decisions - which can in turn lead to lower or balanced costs. This is alongside other less immediate benefits, such as brand appeal, more motivated staff, and, of course, reduced environmental impact.
As an example of this, consider a business looking to expand to a new warehouse. This business decision will come with a great deal of deliberation from stakeholders and management, with factors such as fitting with logistics supply chain route, and rent being major considerations.
From a sustainability standpoint however, locating warehouses closer to end users and staff helps to cut down on environmental impacts. Ultimately, cutting staff transport time increases employee satisfaction.
In short, environmental considerations, such as maintaining or upgrading fleet vehicles, can carry a number of positive repercussions that may not immediately be obvious. It is only through the marrying of environmental and business considerations, with both being given equal weight, that they become easier to plan and orchestrate as one cohesive unit.
Utilising existing warehousing
Expansion is often a positive necessity when businesses are flourishing, but in many cases, a more environmentally-friendly solution is through improved space optimisation, rather than acquiring more premises. By using products such as mezzanine flooring, businesses are better able to increase the storage capacity in their available space, thus reducing the environmental and financial costs associated with moving location.
To find out more about our mezzanine flooring, or how we can help your business expand whilst minimising environmental impacts, get in touch with a member of our team today.