Loading docks are the hubs of warehouses and, as such, can have a significant effect on how profitable facilities are. If operations costs are high, then profits will be lower. Operations costs can be managed, and profits improved, by being as energy-efficient as is possible in loading dock areas.
By using technological advances in warehousing management and installing energy-efficient equipment in loading dock areas, facilities not only see increases in productivity and higher profit margins, but they also have a positive impact on the environment. It's a win-win for everyone.
To increase energy efficiency in loading dock areas, there are several simple things that will get positive results in operations costs almost immediately.
Many utility companies offer warehousing and manufacturing facilities the opportunity to participate in demand response programs. When a facility chooses to be a part of a demand response program, the facility agrees to reduce all non-essential energy use during peak demand periods. In return, the utility company pays the facility for participating in the program. The utility company is required to give advanced notice of peak demand periods so that the facility can plan for the reduction in power usage. This will have the immediate effect of lowering operations costs.
When warehouse spaces, including loading docks, are not occupied (for example, when the facility is closed, which is typically on nights and weekends, unless operations are 24/7), all exhaust fans should be turned off. Making sure exhaust fans are turned off should be included as part of the warehouse closing procedures checklist. You will see savings in operations costs with the first energy bill you get after you implement this procedure.
Implementing regular HVAC maintenance will also increase your facility's energy efficiency and have a positive impact on operations costs. All heating, ventilation, refrigeration (if applicable), and cooling systems should be routinely checked and serviced, including changing filters. This will improve air quality in the facility and avoids wasting energy because dirty, poor-functioning HVAC systems will run more and longer to try to do what they are designed to do, which will drive utility usage and bills up.
Much of the energy loss that happens in warehouses is a result of air leaks. It's important to check all warehouse seals to make sure there are no gaps that for your heating and cooling systems to work harder. Sealing all air leaks within the warehouse, including in the loading dock area, where seals break down over time because of weather exposure and constant use, will result in immediate energy savings, which will improve the bottom line for operations.
Energy and money can also be saved by switching to LEDs for exit sign lights. Fluorescent and incandescent exit sign lights use a lot more energy than LED lights and they have to be switched out much more frequently, which drives operations costs higher. In addition, many energy companies offer rebates for facilities to upgrade to LED exit signs, which is an immediate cost savings for the facility.
Routinely assessing heating and cooling settings for the facility, including office spaces, based on areas and times of occupation can help you determine what the optimal around-the-clock settings are for your facility. For example, when people are working in the warehouse and loading dock areas are in continual use, that area, during working hours, will need more cooling or heating to offset outdoor temperatures when loading dock doors are open. However, when the facility is closed, heating or cooling can be adjusted lower or higher for energy efficiency. This could mean energy costs reductions of up to 30% annually.
Finally, loading dock areas and loading dock equipment are two of the biggest contributors to how energy efficient your facility is. Newer loading docks are built to be energy efficient as the facility is being constructed. However, even older loading docks can be upgraded to take advantage of new energy-efficient loading dock equipment and technology. Although there is an initial capital investment for the loading dock upgrade, the long-term benefits in terms of energy usage and profitability far outweigh the initial cost. If you don't upgrade, you'll be paying for that in operations costs for the life of the facility and will see decreasing profit margins over time because of the additional amount being spent.
In loading dock areas, ineffective exterior doors and gaps in loading dock levelers and trailer door hinges are responsible for wasted energy and higher utility bills, which negatively impact operations' bottom line. Sealing these gaps on dock levelers and trailer door hinges could represent energy savings of up to $5000 a year for each dock position. Making sure that exterior doors have effective seals and cycle time speeds could garner up to $7000 of savings annually per opening.
Call Us Today
Parts Brite can help you with your loading dock energy efficiency needs. We specialize in providing high-quality aftermarket loading dock energy-efficient parts. We offer a comprehensive line of loading dock parts that can meet any specific needs your facility has. Although our sales office is in California, we have distribution warehouses in Wisconsin and California that enable us to rapidly ship loading dock parts throughout the United States. Contact us at 1-855-PARTSBRITE (1-855-727-8727).