One thing the recession and economic downturn has taught companies throughout the food supply chain, is that every line on the financial balance sheet is open for drastic cuts. From producers to processors, distributors to shippers, cutting costs across the board often means changing the way a company has always done things because the old way is just not financially sustainable anymore.
One of the ways companies are cutting costs is by renovating and spending money on their warehousing facilities, specifically on energy efficient lighting upgrades. For those who have ‘flipped the switch,’ they’re finding energy efficient lighting like LED offers a quicker return on investment than some may think.
It’s worth the energy…literally
Lighting needs in some warehouse and cold storage facilities often account for up to 5 percent of a company’s total electric consumption or more. With energy rates for electricity jumping as high as 20 percent in some countries over the past few years, and predictions indicating that they are not going to slow down or decline in coming years, companies looking to minimize consumption and costs are turning to new LED lighting options to deliver energy savings.
“The sodium lights in our warehouses were running 24/7 and needed changing every 20,000 hours, which involves considerable costs, inevitable work interruption and the additional problem of dealing with hazardous waste when you dispose of them,” said Kevin Greene, Engineering Manager at global logistics provider Kuehne+Nagel. “There were plenty of reasons to look for a more efficient lighting solution.”
Like most products, lights, and specifically LED and other energy efficient lighting, have made giant technological gains in the past few years, so often times facility managers aren’t even aware of what new products are available to meet their lighting needs.
“Lighting has come so far in the last five years that the more facility managers expect and demand in terms of performance, value and capabilities…the more they will get, and often with a better cost of total ownership,” said Allison Parker of Digital Lumens, a leading provider of Intelligent LED systems and software. “It’s worth the time and energy, literally and figuratively, for facility managers to do some homework and be a savvy customer.”
One thing many in the industry are finding out is that upgrading to advanced Intelligent LED systems is not the scary, expensive proposition it was just a few short years ago. That’s not to say that the initial investments in state-of-the-art LED fixtures and systems still doesn’t come with a little sticker shock, but when you take a big picture approach and look and the return on investment over the life of the products, as well as other costs saved over that same lifespan, the initial cost of investment is becoming less of an obstacle than it was before.
The rapidly evolving lighting technology can often change the way warehouse managers solve problems too, because instead of incremental improvements one at a time the new intelligent systems solve a wide range of challenges all at once. Offering brighter lights and higher light levels can solve safety and production issues, as well as offer the big bottom line utility savings.
The saving on maintenance costs, especially expensive re-lamping and re-ballasting costs, is also a major reason some facilities are currently making the switch to LED. The LED technology means that facilities will no longer have to halt production, bring in a scissor lift and change bulbs every few months. With some of the newest LED fixtures offering warranties of up to 10 years, now facilities can enjoy many years’ worth of reliable light output with virtually zero maintenance.
Often times these cost reductions are dramatic, which also helps to shorten the ROI on even large and complex lighting renovations to as few as two to three years, or less.