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3 Considerations to Guide Green Warehouse Investments

Oct. 9, 2014
Conveyor that runs only when there’s product to move reduces financial, human and environmental damage.

It used to be that someone would say, “We can reduce your warehouse’s carbon footprint,” and the immediate response would be, “At what cost?”

Until recently, the upfront expense of installing more eco-friendly equipment was just too high to make it practical for most organizations. But that’s all starting to change as price points for greener equipment drop and the value they deliver skyrockets.

Sustainable practices in the warehouse or distribution center (DC) these days aren’t just green—they’re also smart. They become a no-brainer when they’re both the right move for the environment and can also save your organization money, improve safety and dovetail with initiatives your organization already has in place.

Motor-driven roller conveyor is one of the simpler ways to begin adopting greener strategies.  The conveyor stops and starts at the command of photo eyes that sense whether product is present. It runs as long as there’s product to move along and stops as soon as it passes through.

  1. Save on energy bills

Everyone likes lower utility bills. Over time, the motor-driven roller lowers energy use, translating to cost savings for a warehouse, particularly one that operates at least two shifts per day. 

One company opting to use this technology for their value-added system made an initial investment of $315,000 in motor-driven roller conveyor, versus traditional conveyor which would have cost $280,000 – 12.5 percent less. However, the quick ROI made the initial investment worth it. The organization lowered its energy bills for the system to $104 per month from $1,466 per month, for a total savings of $16,344 during the course of the year.

Over the conveyor’s lifespan, that initial investment will more than pay off, especially as energy costs continue to rise. The 10-year energy cost for a traditional conveyor is estimated at $175,920, compared to $12,480 for the motor-driven roller.

Motor-driven roller conveyor not only reduces energy consumption, which in turn reduces a warehouse’s carbon footprint, it delivers other benefits to the business as well.

  1. Make Work Environment Safer

Just as organizations become more aware of the environment, so has their concern increased around worker safety. Companies are doing far more to protect warehouse and DC employees than they were just a few years ago.

Where motor-driven roller is concerned, it’s quieter than a traditional conveyor line. That’s particularly beneficial in enclosed spaces where sound reverberates, greatly lessening the chance that sound will damage employees’ hearing.

The design also eliminates sprockets and other pinch points where a worker could nip a finger or catch a piece of clothing. And the fact that the equipment doesn’t run when it doesn’t have to reduces the opportunities for injury.

  1. Improving Existing Warehouses

Take a look at your entire process before deciding how or if to integrate a new piece of equipment. You want to ensure that you’ll be able to add it to the existing environment in a way that minimizes downtime for the operation and will ultimately improve productivity.

MDR conveyor, by design, is modular which simplifies installation and reduces downtime when retrofitting existing systems.  Its common side channel design eliminates special hardware kits required to make sure everything lines up. MDR conveyor typically does not require the same power distribution which reduces costs relevant to field wiring.  MDR conveyor can also be locally configured and controlled which means users can sometimes avoid high level system control changes.   The installation will go that much smoother when different styles of conveyor have been designed to interface seamlessly.

Ultimately you want to accomplish the same tasks as always – while expending less energy and cash. Using sustainable technologies in the right places helps make that happen, creating a greener, safer and more efficient environment in your warehouse or DC.

Merle Davis is president, Conveyor Solutions at Wynright Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Daifuku Webb and a U.S.-based provider of intelligent material handling systems. He can be reached via [email protected].