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The Importance of Intelligent Lighting in Warehouses

Frequently, “intelligent lighting” is understood only as the installation of LED lights that replace traditional light bulbs which consume more energy and are harmful to a worker’s eyesight.

LED praises are sung all around the world, as they save about 75% more energy than their competitors, according to a study by the US Department of Energy. However, efficient smart lighting systems are much more complex and are composed of multiple elements, hence why they are complete systems in themselves. Motion sensors, dimmers, usage reports, and a whole network based on the connectivity that the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide, have the power to genuinely get the most out of LED lighting.

Intelligent lighting systems have been implemented successfully in all kinds of businesses with excellent results, including the logistics industry. This article will put into perspective the savings percentage of smart lighting and will explore how these systems are implemented, concentrating mainly on warehouses.

In previous posts, we discussed the two first steps towards green logistics, namely the use of bioplastics and recycling activities that improve packaging sustainability. Now, we’ll explore this innovative lighting solution and how it can bring sustainability to the logistics sector via energy savings.


Challenges in Warehousing and New Approaches 

Traditional warehouses are often thought of as a workspace radically different from any other. It’s essential to understand the characteristics that make them so, because there lie the most significant changes needed in order to improve sustainability in logistics. Warehouse spaces are generally large, with few windows, and are  full of tall shelves arranged in narrow aisles where employees need to move and identify products quickly. Due to this setup , the ideal warehouse must have powerful lighting with a long shelf life that can be distributed throughout the spaces that are most frequently interacted with. Let’s not forget that, because of their size, many areas in a warehouse may be subject to little or no interaction. However, those deserted spaces take as much energy as the ones the employees visit more frequently. This is the reason for implementing one of the most useful elements of intelligent lightning: motion sensors.

Carbon Trust revealed in a 2019 report that between 65% and 95% of electric energy used in a warehouse comes from its lightning, translating into enormous costs that could be reduced with a one-time investment in an intelligent system. The majority of businesspeople choose to implement LEDs, however, if a complete intelligent system is put in place, savings can become considerably higher. This is only possible thanks to the flexibility that IoT brings, as said systems depend on every single element being connected via the internet to create real-time reports that allow users to measure and adjust them manually.

Extraordinary savings aren’t only due to LEDs’ capacity to produce the same light intensity as traditional bulbs while using less energy. It’s essential to mention all of the beneficial aspects that a system can bring in order to understand it thoroughly. The extraordinary shelf life of the bulbs, some capable of lasting as long as 20 years, and the integration of motion sensors in the lightbulb itself reduce the initial investment even further.

A complete spatial redesign of the traditional warehouse can also be a significant step in the right direction. Skylights or wider windows can combine natural light with intelligent lightning to supply an excellent solution that allows users to dim the intensity according to the time of day. An extraordinary example of success in redesigning a warehouse space is that of bodegas Murviedro, a wine operation that has a 2,300 square meter warehouse in Valencia, Spain with a high energy consumption. Intelligent lightning achieved a reduction in energy consumption  by 95% at this warehouse, saving Murviedro the equivalent of 150,000 mexican pesos every 10 years.

All large-scale logistics operations that implement green sustainable elements deserve a cost-benefit analysis that can adequately estimate each company’s needs and deliver actual savings over time. In order to achieve this, Woodward implements its team of experts that can accurately show the economical benefits of being eco friendly, while considering that intelligent lighting and other green logistics solutions do not exist solely to drive costs down. They are also implemented so that each warehouse can offer its employees further comfort during their work hours and improve supply chain sustainability to help protect the environment and the planet.