For many companies, warehouse lighting is a grudge cost – a necessary cost that companies must bear. But, keeping expenditure to a minimum when lighting a warehouse can carry a far greater cost.

It goes without saying that warehouse staff need to be able to see clearly when operating machinery, reading labels, sorting, packing etc – these are fundamental requirements to an efficient warehouse. Under-investing in suitable lighting or failing to maintain the lighting solution, can result in additional returns, damaged goods, staff turnover, accidents and general incompetence. Therefore, spending as little as possible on warehouse lighting is a lose-lose situation for everyone.

So how does one go about lighting a warehouse that keeps your staff and the bean counters happy?

Know what light you need

Lighting levels (or the amount of lux needed) are dictated by the level of work detail that is expected from staff. It makes it much more efficient if staff can read accurately without squinting or resorting to additional light sources like torches. For example, imagine the returns if a reference number is read as a “3” instead of an “8”. There are lighting design guidelines available from OSHA and SANS 10400-O that can help in this regard and a reputable and professional industrial lighting supplier can determine the exact amount of lux levels required for each warehouse design.

Understand your warehouse landscape

Warehouses tend to have high vertical storage to maximise space. It stands to reason that the closer storage gets to the roof, the more lighting is required. The rule of thumb is that a dedicated aisle layout is more expensive than an installation that provides overall illumination, but the added cost needs to be offset against the greater storage efficiency achieved by multiple storage tiers.

Lighting control in aisles

Understanding the workings of the warehouse can go a long way when designing for energy efficient lighting. Once you have interpreted the “human traffic” patterns in the warehouse, you may find that certain areas may not need lighting at specific times and the use lighting controls will reduce the load. If there is no one in the isles, the lights can dim and this reduces consumption.

Use free light – Invest in Skylights

Industrial skylights can reduce energy consumption by up to 65% and studies have proven that natural light can increase productivity by as much as 40%. (need to put case study proof)
If your warehouse has a soft roof, it would be crazy to not look into the benefits of skylights. A credible supplier will be able to advise you on a skylight solution that is durable, and will adequately block out glare and heat gain, while ensuring you get to save with your lights turned off.

High quality light fittings will save you in the long run.

It’s human nature to be drawn to lower prices but taking the time to understand why there is such a variety in pricing when it comes to LED’s can save you hundreds of thousands in the long run.

When selecting a light fitting, you need to consider factors such as light colour, optics, glare, light strength – not only the amount of light that gets delivered per Watt. Failing to consider these aspects may be counteractive to productivity – if the light is too harsh – and to safety – imagine a forklift operator having to look up to a light that is too bright. Another factor in the quality debate is that there is no doubt that the higher the quality, the longer the guarantee. If your supplier is not offering you a guarantee of anything between 5 and 10 years, then the longevity of the fittings and the lux levels are questionable.

Knowledge is power – understand the choices

There are three main sources of warehouse lighting, and it’s imperative that you understand the differences when lighting up a warehouse.

Metal halide light sources were the success story of the 1990s, however everything that the metal halide lamp delivered can now be provided by LED lighting. An important solutions feature to LED sources over the old metal halides is the ability to be dimmed.

Fluorescent tubes became mainstream in warehouse lighting as they demonstrated a much better lighting efficiency over the metal halide sources but modern LED technology has already proven to outperform and outlast fluorescent tubes. The LED has taken over in almost every lighting sector.

High quality LED fittings are exceptionally efficient at converting electrical energy into illumination, making them up to 90% more efficient compared to traditional lighting.  A good LED fixture will hold its own against any other type of lighting source even in extreme conditions. I would take all of this out because the aim of the article was to tell them the best way to heat up their warehouse, not why they should go with LED’s

Good lighting should be at the heart of every warehouse and there are sound financial reasons why companies should see the investment in their warehouse lighting as a plus on their bottom line.