Two of the hottest topics in logistics and supply chain management these days are RFID and the environment. By creating Triple E Logistics facilities you can advance both of these causes simultaneously, rapidly and cost effectively. So what is a Triple E logistics facility you may ask?
A Triple E logistics facility is a building designed from the ground up with three things in mind. Namely, Electronic Product Code or EPC, Environmentally Friendly and last but not least Energy Efficient. Let’s examine each of these now to see how combining all of these in at the design and building stage can drive significant synergies and cost efficiencies.
Electronic Product Codes are on the minds of many these days as to how they can be introduced on a wide scale in a cost effective manner. By creating a Triple E logistics facility with EPC designed into the building structure a number of benefits rapidly accrue.
First off, you get the coverage you require from an RFID reader perspective by “building in” these readers at the time of construction in the walls around dock doors and all interior connecting doors between warehouse chambers.
By doing so creates the obvious benefit of providing ubiquitous supply chain visibility across the entire facility and by utilizing Global Location Numbering or GLN for each of these locations unique identifiers will be assigned to each allowing for accurate and positive identification everytime something passes into or out of the building and also track all internal transfers between different parts of the warehouse.
Another added benefit to this approach is by including all of this equipment in the original building cost which allows for a significantly longer depreciation period and so lower annual costs to finance the total EPC system infrastructure in your facility. To get an idea of some of the productivity benefits of EPC in logistics processes, review the results of the SCN Pilot with Staples where in some cases 50-85% productivity improvements were confirmed.
The second “E” in Triple E facilities is environmentally friendly and this can be built in right from the design phase. The process for doing this is by incorporating LEED methods in the design process. A building can be made more environmentally friendly in a number of ways such as using environmentally friendly building materials from as local of sources as possible, having an environmentally sensitive site to reduce the impact of the construction and manage run-off from yards etc. and by taking many steps to do the third “E” in Triple E which is to make the operation Energy Efficient.
Energy efficiency comes from using efficient methods to heat, cool and light the building and also by managing and taking advantage of all energy created in major automation systems with variable speed motors and even generators where appropriate.
Additionally, the use of the roof area to create a Green Roof can be effective in insulating the roof, reflecting heat and plants will actually act as a carbon sink by absorbing Carbon Dioixde and creating oxygen. As well, a number of large facilities are also installing solar systems to create electricity for on site use and even wind power capture devices along the edges of roofs are another potential.
Some of these concepts can be utilized in the retrofit or expansion of existing facilities, however to truly create a Triple E facility as envisioned here is best done when new build facilities are in the early stages of development. As companies become more aware of the growing consumer interest and impact of environmental issues, creating Triple E facilities as part of your overall goal of having a Carbon Neutral Supply Chain will ultimately become a source of competitive advantage for your company.