Being a professional of the supply chain, you might think that warehouse automation is only good for reducing operating costs, waste elimination and manpower cuts. But for the sustainable supply chain, automation can really help in reducing environmental impact as well.

Take a look at this example, a high-bay warehouse that uses automated storage and retrieval systems. It is fairly obvious what the financial benefits are with this since most warehouse activity is carried out automatically, with the minimized need for manual labor. That being said, such structure provides numerous advantages to the environmentally conscious company as well that is seeking to develop a sustainable supply chain.

One of the benefits is a smaller physical footprint compared to the traditional warehouse. Since storage is taken upwards, a high-bay warehouse would need less in the way of land and can also have a similar storage capacity as a conventional warehouse double its size.

Another benefit is a waste reduction, which is always a goal for sustainable supply chain initiatives. This is a given when it comes to automated warehouse systems. Here are a few reasons why:

  • You get controlled and smooth pallet handling, which ensures minimized damage to both pallets and goods
  • The pallets do not require the same amount of plastic shrink wrap for protection since they can be handled manually
  • Errors in picking are reduced by warehouse automation, which means less work, and in turn results in less energy being wasted, fossil fuel being consumed and many associated emissions

Although this may not be good news for everyone, warehouse automation can lessen the manpower needed for product receipt, storage, and dispatch. There will be fewer workers that will be traveling to and from the warehouse each day, easing the impact on the environment in terms of public and personal transportation.

Aside from that, a smaller workforce would help reduce the site footprint even more. There will be less need for large employee canteen rooms, parking areas, and other facilities. Even better, automated warehouse equipment doesn’t use paper documents, which is another way to save in natural resources.

Warehouse Automation Has Additional Benefits

Even though warehouse automation needs a substantial investment at the start, the same can be said for many financial, environmental and performance improvement initiatives. But unlike some of them, automated warehousing can really provide returns through multiple levels of the supply chain operation. This can include better sustainability, operating costs savings and improved service and efficiency.