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It’s Easy To Be Green

Design an environmentally friendly warehouse that’s also efficient.

Helping your customers go green is not only good for the environment, but also helps them save money. Green choices can take many forms and can extend far beyond the traditional purview of material handling. From initial facility planning to the company’s recycling plan, your company can play a vital role in an end-user’s commitment to eco-friendly initiatives and form a valuable partnership.

Everyone in your firm, from salesperson to project manager to CEO, needs to embrace a new mindset to ensure your customers are thinking green. Don’t simply sell on price. Work to market your role as a systems integrator to customers early. MHEDA members can play a key role for their clients by being a partner long before the end-user even begins to make choices about material handling equipment.

The following suggestions can help your end-users improve their bottom line and can also have lasting impacts for your own profitability.

Greener Material Handling Options
There are many subtle ways to help end-users make their operation more green.

  • Design conveyor systems with fewer motors running at lower horsepower.
  • Put sleep modes on the conveyors.
  • Create floor plans which create shorter paths for lift-truck drivers.
  • Encourage use of rack systems from the customer’s previous facilities.

Recycling: Reduce Costs, Raise Revenues
Yes, recycling is environmentally friendly. It can be revenue-friendly, too. Customers can cut costs by reusing packaging material or reducing weekly trash loads.

  • Plan a dedicated area in the customer’s facility for recycling.
  • Encourage reuse of cartons.
  • Urge use of smaller packaging to reduce needed space and shipping costs.

Reduce Building Footprint, Enhance Efficiency
Work with the architect if possible to reduce the overall building footprint.

  • Optimize space between the columns for a more efficient lift-truck aisle.
  • In low-traffic areas, encourage sensor-controlled lighting.

Site Selection Assistance
Location, location, location! Helping to choose the right site can have a great impact.

  • Moving close to major transportation arteries can improve distribution costs.
  • Fuel costs can be greatly reduced.
  • Other energy solutions (i.e. solar power, evaporative coolers) may be viable.
  • Carpooling and bicycling can become attractive options for workers.

Show the Way
Many customers are often reluctant to take these steps initially, but your firm can lead by example. Our company takes many steps to be more green and hopefully provide a model to follow.

  • Reduce heating bills by lowering the warehouse temperature. While activity level in a warehouse should ensure employees stay warm, some employees are always cold. Provide company-purchased outerwear.
  • Lower electricity costs by leaving lights off in less-used areas until needed.
  • Encourage recycling by giving employees recycle bins and having them take home paper that would normally be dumped in a bigger recycling bin.

It’s not hard to begin embracing a greener philosophy, both in dealing with customers and in your own operations. A commitment now can mean cost savings for your customers, unique systems solutions and a better bottom line for everyone involved.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

David Kenealy Meet the Author
David Kenealy is president of DAK Equipment and Engineering in Elmhurst, IL.


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