Sometimes the smallest savings can have the biggest impact. For cost-savings in warehousing, this couldn’t be more true.
A small change, like how getting a fast-moving item closer to where it’s needed can save a material handler five seconds. Multiply those five seconds over 100 times per day with 100 employees, and you’re saving tens of thousands a year in lost time.
This is called maximizing warehouse efficiency, but it’s not always an exercise in saving time. Warehouses and distribution centers also need a lot of energy, particularly for keeping cool in warm climates. Large, open, and tall spaces are notoriously difficult to keep cool. This means that often systems aren’t working at their most efficient or are being inadvertently overused.
When it’s hot, a cool warehouse keeps stored materials from being damaged by heat or moisture, and also keeps those working inside from overheating. Little slows down a work force more than excessive heat.
Here are 3 ways to reduce your warehouse or distribution center cooling costs.
1. Install Variable Frequency Drives
A variable frequency drive allows your fan motors to cycle up or down while maintaining the setpoint temperature. This means at times when a set temperature is reached, the fans can power down to a lower speed and still maintain the temperature.
A variable frequency drive could rack up to 60% or more in energy savings. Saving at that rate, it’s not unheard of to recoup the cost of the upgrade in less than 12 months, meaning little to no adverse impact on your yearly budget.
2. Advanced Economization
Advanced economization takes advantage of the outside environment. If the outside air is cooler than the inside air, why cool down the warmer air inside when you can bring in (or cool) the cooler air outside?
With advanced economization you use free cooling when the outside air temperatures are closer to the setpoint than the return air temperatures.
3. Setpoint Scheduling
Setpoint scheduling leverages the different requirements of the system based on the time of day. For example, in some regions, daytime heat can vary drastically from night-time low temperatures. By modifying the schedule to run less at times when less cooling is needed, you increase the overall efficiency of the system.
It’s not always an option to simply turn off air conditioning, especially in areas that get hot. In Southern states like Arizona and Nevada, conditioning units may be running throughout most of the year. It’s facilities like these that can see the greatest return on investment.
When deciding on facility upgrades, the number one consideration is cost. Will a change save money within 5 years, or 10 years? What’s most surprising to many of our customers is that for conditioned warehouses and distribution centers, it’s common to recoup the upgrade costs in one year. In fact, there would likely be very little or any increased expenditure in the year of installation, and only reduced energy consumption moving forward.
Improving warehouse cooling efficiency will likely increase the financial efficiency of a facility, especially in warmer climates. Contact us today to discuss how your warehouse or distribution center can start saving energy and reducing cooling costs.
Image: Ken Pilon