- The same equipment that powers your modern distribution center (DC) through automation such as conveying systems, lifts, and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) can drive up your electric bills, DC Velocity reported Wednesday.
- Numerous opportunities for savings exist, however, such as employing the IoT to track and reduce power surges; using engine friction to generate power for machinery like cranes and lifts; slowing conveyors and using lighter-weight machinery; installing LED lights, and introducing solar power panels.
- Reducing electric costs often co-exists with the greening of the supply chain, which results in further savings.
The most effective savings weave throughout the supply chain, rather than concentrate on one or two areas like automated labor or a lean supply chain.
Companies like UPS and Ikea are both installing solar panels within distribution centers throughout the country. At Ikea, a 470,545 square foot solar array comprised of 8,966 panels will produce roughly 3,411,600 kWh of electricity each year, eliminating approximately two thousand tons of CO2 emissions. Since 2012, the company has expanded its solar capabilities by 27% to produce 109GWh, allowing both its distribution centers and stores to produce more than 50% of its electricity consumed on-site.
Similarly, at UPS, solar power will be employed at eight more of its 2,580 facilities by the close of 2017. The additional eight facilities will increase UPS’s solar generation by nearly 10 MW, or enough to power roughly 1,200 homes each year. Adding solar energy to eight more locations will result in an annual 8,200 metric ton reduction in carbon emissions.
However, cost reduction strategies do not necessarily require increased investments in solar energy or IoT. Companies can also benefit from striking deals with utility companies to schedule electricity usage for off-peak times in exchange for lower rates, in what are called demand response plans. Similarly, various warehouse design tactics, etc., exist to reduce waste and lean operations, thereby reducing time by which electricity is being used.