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Green Warehousing: Embracing What You Already Practice
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In the movie “Talladega Nights” the main character, Ricky Bobby, prefers to have his arm broken rather than to admit that he likes crepes.  He confesses a love for thin, tasty pancakes but conceding to liking something called a “crepe” is just too much for him to handle.  Why?  Probably the same reason I walk past and ignore the “non-fat” items in a grocery store.  Because words matter and they elicit positive and negative reactions due to the perceptions they words imply.

I have seen similar reactions among some logistics professionals when discussing Green Warehousing.  Immediately their minds race to expensive facility changes, re-training, and yet another process or program that they will be required to certify and track.  What some of those professionals may not realize is that the elements emphasized in green warehousing are the same principles they have practiced their entire career, albeit under a different name.  Making your facility green may not require a drastic transformation in your mindset, simply a re-labeling of your activities, taking it one step further, and then taking credit.

If you have been involved in a facility site selection project, undoubtedly one of your project goals was for the location to result in the best possible impact on transportation.  You may have:

  • Focused on service levels and cost but the result was maximizing assets and minimizing fuel — that is green.
  • Reviewed your facility layout for space improvement opportunities out of operational need but the result was a better use of assets and resources –that is green.
  • Measured and tracked process elements as a way to improve productivity or incent workers but the result was increased efficiency — that is green.
  • Found a way to recycle or reuse materials and supplies as a means of recapturing cost.  You are probably aware that this is certainly green.

If you are still not comfortable with the label, I understand.  Change is hard.  But as a responsible logistics professional, do yourself a favor and investigate how your facility aligns to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating and certification.  If you are not aware of LEED there are two reasons you should investigate:

  1. You may identify opportunities to increase efficiency in your operation or make facility improvements.
  2. As discussed above, you may already be performing green practices and not be aware.  If so, you are missing out on a marketing opportunity around your company’s sustainability message.  Additionally, you may be able to apply credit for these activities to green initiatives being driven by your customers, your company, or regulatory bodies.  There are increasing levels of expectation around sustainability and you may be able to contribute to stakeholder goals simply by being a good operator.

The bottom line is that good engineering practices, operational efficiency, and plain old common sense that logistics professionals have long emphasized as core operating practices are at the heart of green warehousing.  So, you may have thought you were just eating thin pancakes, but in reality you were a “crepe guy” long before it was fashionable!

Category: Healthcare
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