There is no money to made out of warehouse lighting. It’s just a cost that companies need to bear because, after all, warehouses are a necessary burden to the business, so let’s just keep it tight and expenditure to a minimum, right?
Well – it all depends on how efficient a business expects its distribution network to be. With ‘logistics’ being the buzz word on everyone’s transport fleet, it’s probably worthwhile giving a bit more attention to the quality of service that goes on inside those huge sheds.
Spending as little as possible is a fool’s errand. The less that gets spent on lighting, the more will get spent on dealing with returns, damaged goods, staff turnover and general incompetence. It’s because warehouse staff would prefer to be able to see what they’re doing and to be able to read the label on the box.
Know what you need to get the job done properly
Design guides exist to let you know what the recommended lighting levels are for warehousing. Those lighting levels are based on the level of detail that’s expected from staff. If your pickers are under pressure to satisfy intense daily delivery schedules it would help them, and help the business, if they have enough light to read labels easily and without squinting to see whether that ‘3’ is actually an ‘8’.
And if you’re lucky enough to have an automated picking process that doesn’t require the human touch, and so requires very little lighting, remember that the robots will also need some TLC occasionally. So a maintenance lighting installation, even if used only occasionally, would still get the job done more quickly than hauling temporary lighting around.
Understand what your warehouse landscape looks like
Warehouse sheds tend to be high structures, with plenty of height for vertical storage, triple-tier shelving being typical. But the closer your storage gets to the roof, the more lighting you will need. If your aisles are like canyons then you must have lighting that is dedicated to the aisle layout; there’s no point thinking that a light fitting mounted directly above a bank of shelving is doing any good at all. The rule of thumb is that a lighting installation that is dedicated to an aisle layout will be more expensive than an installation that provides overall illumination, but the added cost has to be offset against the greater storage efficiency achieved by multiple storage tiers.
Control the energy usage
Part of the assessment of how the warehouse functions should be a review of how the building actually works. It may be that it’s not necessary to illuminate the entire building for the entire time. Lighting controls are becoming a regular component of aisle-lighting schemes. If there is no one in an aisle, then the lighting automatically drops to a lower level, reducing energy spend.
Buy quality light fittings
Don’t be tempted by the cheapest light fittings on offer; they may come at an unexpected price. The new generation of LED high-bay lighting has extraordinarily high efficacv figures in terms of the amount of light that gets delivered per Watt. But those figures need to be considered alongside the way that the light is delivered. Crude optics that ensure as much light falls out of the face of the fitting as possible may be a hazard to staff if glare becomes a problem. Coming back to high-level shelving, fork-lift operators need to have clear sight of their surroundings and that includes especially the shelves’ upper regions. Looking up into the face of a super-brilliant light fitting is a problem, and it could become a dangerous one. The Jacksta Energy UFO features multi-angled LEDs this means that the light output is spread over a much wider are than the now traditional LED COB type.
Know your light sources
Of course, the LED has taken over in almost every lighting sector. It is a very efficient source, and continues to get ever brighter. A good LED luminaire will hold its own against any other type of fixture, but it’s a technology that comes with a warning. Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. LED sources, as mentioned above, can create a level of glare that makes a job difficult and uncomfortable. That glare comes from two possible sources; either because the optical control of the luminaire isn’t very good, or because, quite simply, the LEDs are too bright. There has to be a balance between the light from a luminaire and the comfort of the people working under it.
Flicker of LED sources is becoming the surprise issue of recent months. Perhaps this is to do with the fast growing LED market and less than scrupulous manufacturers taking advantage of ultra-cheap components, but flicker can be a disabling problem and if you are putting staff into an environment where 100% of the illumination is coming from an inferior source, then expect absences, illnesses, poor performance and, eventually legal proceedings! At Jacksta Energy we ONLY use genuine components from top manufacturers like Bridgelux, Philips and Meanwell. Whilst we are on the subject of Meanwell its worth noting that most end users won’t have heard of this brand. Ask any Sparky they will have, Meanwell are without doubt the world leaders in their field, unfortunately yet expectedly that means they are the most expensive. Meanwhile make 2 levels of driver, 3 year and 5 year warranty version. At Jacksta we only buy the 5 year for high bay lighting, some suppliers buy the 3 year yet give 5 year warranty (Presumably with crossed fingers) we buy direct from all brands and assemble in out own facility, only buy doing this can a supplier guarantee that components are not cheap Chinese fakes!
Good warehouse lighting should be at the heart of a consumer economy and there are sound financial reasons why companies should see the investment in their warehouse environment as being very good for their bottom line.