It may seem stretching a point in warehouse operations to claim that cleanliness, along with punctuality, should be top priorities, something that logistics provider, DB Schenker, holds dear to its heart. This cleanliness issue, in what is the broad church of facilities management, can often be sidelined but such neglect risks customer ire, potential loss of business and employee health risks.

It is not just dust particles that threaten product quality but also operatives’ health, especially when particulates fall below 2.5 microns. To minimise the dust menace, facilities management should take a holistic view which looks at dust ingress areas, for example, because dust seeps in through open doors and windows as well as being created by work processes, including internal use of diesel and LPG forklifts. This shows the necessity to integrate door operations and MHE with the usual dust and dirt-dealing devices like the many kinds of floor-cleaning equipment. Often the best type of dust ingress-controlling doors are the fast-acting PVC roller or slat doors, which are both a cleaning and energy-saving issue.

There are, however, other cleansing weapons managers can call upon but they do require a detailed knowledge of one’s current dust-dealing measures to see if a different approach might be more cost effective. Such an approach could be industrial air cleaning systems from Zehnder. This uses a patented combination of two filters, one of which uses a mechanical and electrostatic charge to bind fine and coarse dust while the other filter traps the dust particles awaiting to be caught. This means that the dust is filtered at source before it can even contaminate goods or be inhaled by employees. Scaleable, the whole system runs automatically. Schenker found that depending on the location of its depots, a cut in up to 87% of dust has been achieved. Its traditional cleaning and maintenance work has fallen sharply.

Energy costs are another main concern of facilities managers, particularly in temperaturecontrolled operations, and in this both heat loss issues and energy generation methods should be carefully considered. In energy generation equipment there is more than one fuel choice, which can be gas, oil or electricity, each with their own cost profile. At the 3,400-pallet capacity Kuhne+Nagel temperature-controlled site for pharmaceuticals in Cork, gas was the preferred fuel. The contents had to be kept at between 15-25 deg C, and other requirements included space savings, simplicity and ease of maintenance.

Three outdoor Yanmar gas-driven heat pump systems connected to four indoor Daikin fan coils placed in the central area reduced the amount of refrigerant pipework needed. The warehouse also had air curtains connected to the roller shutter door to control ambient air ingress. The result is that K+N achieved a cut in running costs when compared with oil and electricity, estimated at between 30- 40%. Installation costs were also saved because there was no need to upgrade the electrical power supply.

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