Almost everyone in the food and beverage industry has their dinosaur--the old warehouse or distribution center that’s been around since the beginning, the one that started it all and the one that holds endless memories of the good times.
Some may still be storing product. Some of them were the ‘crown jewels’ of their time, but have lost their luster as the speed and scope of business changed rapidly over the years. And, that pace hasn’t let up. The reality is that if you’re not constantly looking at new innovations and ways to improve your warehouse facility and operations, you’re getting left behind.
Technology advancements combined with the latest demands in the food and beverage supply chain are in perpetual non-stop motion. With consumer demand pushing retailers and suppliers into an “omni-channel” model of business in the future, warehouses will need to be more versatile and more sophisticated than ever before in order to stay at the forefront of their industry.
While the ways to renovate and innovate are many, today’s industry trends show a clear preference in three key areas: energy efficient lighting, labor efficient automation, and the newest improvements in facility design that provide fast and efficient packaging, storage and distribution of goods in the warehouse.
Let LED light the way
The advances in lighting technology have come at a light speed pace in recent years, with LED lighting dominating the category in most warehouse and cold storage facility renovations. From LED High Bay fixtures that come with 10-year warranties, to elaborate integrated control systems that control every space inside the facility, the innovation in the LED category itself continues to make so much progress that it’s hard for facility managers to stay up to date with the changing technology.
Upgrading or retrofitting lighting systems to LED continues to be a hot trend in the warehouse industry because more often than not, the lights are on 24/7 and can typically account for a large portion of the overall electricity consumption. With utility companies continuing to raise rates at sometimes double-digit levels in some areas, upgrading the lighting in the facility is a relatively simple fix that can save thousands of dollars in energy costs in the short term as well as “future proof” your facilities.
The energy savings alone that an LED system can bring compared to an older lighting system is often substantial and enough reason for companies to look into upgrading their lighting, but it’s not the only reason fueling the trend to switch. LED lights offer better light quality and often solve equipment safety and employee efficiency issues by eliminating dark areas in the warehouse. LEDs also offer a longer lifespan, which means lower maintenance costs and quicker return on investment despite the initial higher upfront costs.
The movement to warehouse-wide LED systems is also being fueled by new features and advancements in LED lighting and software systems. Not only do these new systems give users the ability to turn the lights on and off, but dim them, as well as turn them on and off depending upon the traffic and activity in any given space, all of which are huge energy saving measures in big facilities.
These new fixtures and systems are also hugely popular in cold storage warehouse renovations because unlike traditional lighting in these settings, LED fixtures radiate less heat and will not degrade or lose lifespan and longevity due to repeatedly cycling the lights on and off or dimming them when a space is unoccupied for a set amount of time. Even in temperatures of -40 Fahrenheit, LED fixtures can be turned off and on without losing bulb life or quality, an innovation that runs contrary to every other lighting option in cold storage environments.