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Combining your Warehouse Storage System with a Lighting Plan

Warehouse lighting is often an overlooked part of the design process, but is a hugely significant aspect of your project. These industrial buildings have unique characteristics to consider when deciding on lighting options, including - few windows, high ceilings, elevated shelving, and large floor services. If not properly considered, these characteristics can result in insufficient light, poorly distributed light, improper contrast, and difficult maintenance. Having high quality and effective lighting not only increases the safety of your environment, your energy usage and efficiency, but also improves working conditions and significantly reduces long term work fatigue in employees. These benefits improve production efficiency, reduce error rate, reduce production accidents, and thus improve the optimisation and capacity of your entire warehouse operation.

There is a five step process to determine the most effective system for your warehouse lighting:

  1. Determine the quantity of illumination required for processes

  2. Determine what is required for safety

  3. Investigate mechanical performance of options to ensure they satisfy all requirements

  4. Prepare a layout that considers maintenance

  5. Review energy, economic, and operating characteristics

The visibility levels required within a warehouse vary depending on a number of factors, based on tasks performed, employees, and design of the space. The more active an area, the higher the light levels required.

In BS EN 12464-1:2021 Light and lighting - lighting of work places. Indoor work places the British Standard Institution details the recognised best practice lighting requirements for indoor workplaces. Following this guidance allows the meeting of visual comfort and performance needs. Their committees work with the manufacturing and service industries, government, businesses and consumers to facilitate the production of British, European and International standards.

For open warehouses, a lighting level of 100 Lux is required, but if the space is continuously manned, this increases to 200 Lux. Unmanned gangways require 100 Lux, and manned gangways 150 Lux. 200 Lux is required on storage rack faces with a uniformity of 0.4. Vertical illuminance is essential to allow for staff to identify pallet labels.

There are generally two types of light patterns, I or V patterns. An I pattern is long and narrow, a V pattern emits light in a widespread circular pattern. Lights can also be installed with smart controls to reduce energy usage and waste - Smart controls turn lights on and off based on whether employees are present or not. This is a cost-effective and sustainable solution as it can reduce usage by up to 30%.

The long and narrow aisles of storage and pallet racking make it difficult to distribute light in a manner which covers the aisle area. This is where type I is appropriate as the uniform, high vertical illumination helps to reduce dark areas and ensures there is clear visibility of stock and for forklift truck driving.

Sorting and picking or office areas need a higher light output and greater consideration of glare control and colour rendering as these working areas facilitate visual tasks. This means a V pattern is more appropriate within these areas. Glare control is achieved by consideration of unified glare rating, and should be managed by reflecting it or shielding from it, as glare can provide great discomfort for focussed work. 5000k colour temperature lights are a good match for the requirements of this close up work. Different lighting colours can also increase employee wellbeing as options allow for a mimicking of natural light, increasing visibility, and decreasing visual discomfort.

The most common options used as a light source include High Intensity Discharge HID, fluorescent lighting, and Light Emitting Diode LEDs. As the technology progresses, LEDs become a much more common and effective option, with companies switching over, both for cost benefits and environmental benefits. Traditional halogen bulbs are set to be banned in the UK in line with climate change plans, so LEDs are a sustainable alternative.

LED lights use 75% less power than traditional bulbs, so while they may initially appear more expensive, have a very fast payback time in terms of running costs. Warehouses that have switched over to LED lighting have seen as much as an 84% ROI in their lighting operations. They have a huge lifespan of 100 000 hours and an equal or better lumen output to HID or Fluorescent, and it does not deteriorate or fade over time. This means it can reduce maintenance by 50%.

HID lamps have the lowest initial cost and are much more affordable initially especially when compared to LEDs. They are a high intensity lighting option and offer a good quality of light, but have the highest rate of lumen depreciation and lowest range of colour temperature options. They also need a warm up time before they reach full brightness, and need a cool down period before they can be turned back on. These have been the long-standing option but the older technology is rendering them less effective.

Fluorescent lighting is also a budget friendly option, with greater flexibility of size, shape, and colour temperature. However, they cannot operate in extreme temperatures and have a relatively short lifespan when turned on and off frequently.

Where there is natural lighting within your warehouse, it should be leveraged and considered in design as these areas will need less artificial light. However, shades or blinds should be available to control it in case it becomes too bright, provides glare, and is a safety risk.

Lighting is a complicated aspect of warehouse design, but with our bespoke consultancy services we are able to recommend and install the best and most efficient options for your storage facilities. With over 30 years’ experience in the racking and storage industry, we have huge expertise in delivering high quality, expert warehouse consultation services to businesses of all sizes. Whether you are looking to optimise your current operations, redesign your warehouse space or minimise your losses, warehouse design consultancy with our highly skilled experts is the cost-effective solution to make the most of your storage space. Get in touch today to find out more and receive a free quote!

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