Date: December 6, 2023 7:30 am

Navigating the Challenges of Illuminating Distribution Warehouses

Navigating the Challenges of Illuminating Distribution Warehouses

Designing a lighting system to meet the needs of a distribution warehouse in the UK

Distribution warehouses play a pivotal role in todays’ UK supply chain, ensuring the seamless flow of goods from manufacturers to retailers. Following the effects of Covid, however, the requirement for this type of facility has increased. The once reliable and dependence on the supply chain from overseas, especially China has seen issues since Covid. This has resulted in the need to hold stock within the UK to counter the less reliable supply chains.

The changing supply chain is one of the reasons we have seen a rise in the building of distribution warehouses. The design of these large distribution warehouse facilities seems straight-forward, but these facilities need to satisfy several criteria. They need to be a working space that suits the needs of high-volume storage, supports ease of manoeuvring items, whilst ensuring a productive and safe place for the workforce.

Ensuring these vast areas are correctly illuminated, is therefore paramount to the general operations of these businesses. Correctly lighting these large areas does presents several challenges. In the UK, with stringent energy efficiency regulations, and fluctuating weather patterns, lighting these large facilities needs careful consideration.

Balancing Brightness and Energy Efficiency

Achieving the optimal balance between correct and effective illumination, energy efficiencies and operational requirements is a crucial aspect to create the correct lighting system for warehouse distribution buildings. Excessive illumination can lead to energy wastage and unnecessary costs for your business. Inadequate lighting can compromise safety, productivity, and product quality.

In the UK, workforce safety and well-being, along with energy efficiency is a paramount concern. Many businesses are facing increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint. The installation of energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as modern LEDs, can significantly lower energy consumption and contribute to your sustainability goals.

Ensuring Uniformity and Addressing High Ceilings

The design of many distribution warehouses features high roof space and ceilings, which pose a challenge in achieving the correct, uniform illumination in the different areas. Incorrect lighting systems can cause shadows or uneven lighting, which can impede workers and vehicle movements. It can also increase the risk of accidents, and hinder the identification of product, especially in large racking systems.

Choosing the right light fittings and design layout is essential to ensure that the different areas are illuminated to suit the various areas and operations undertaken, minimising dark spots and glare.

Adapting to Varying Storage Heights and Racking Systems

The height and configuration of racking systems in distribution warehouses can significantly impact lighting requirements. Fixed lighting fixtures may not provide adequate illumination at varying storage heights, while excessive lighting can lead to energy inefficiency.

The benefits afforded by modern LED lighting systems is the flexibility of control they can provide your business. Flexible managed lighting solutions can provide benefits to give you full control of your lighting systems throughout your warehouse facility. This can include adjustable spotlights and track lighting, automatic detection system, which will detect movement and switch control lights. Lights can be individually controlled to be switched on or off and dimmed up of down to suit the needs of different spaces and operations. This provides optimal illumination of all areas, at any time, whilst maximising energy efficiencies.

Considering Weather Conditions and Natural Light

It’s safe to say the UK’s weather patterns is unpredictable and daylight hours and seasonal variations, necessitate a dynamic approach to warehouse lighting. Natural light from windows can reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day, however with overcast conditions or extended periods of darkness additional supplemental illumination is required. Smart (automated) lighting sensor systems can adapt to changing natural light levels, ensuring optimal lighting conditions while conserving energy.

Regulatory Compliance and Safety Standards

There are also stringent health and safety regulations in the UK, including BS EN 12464-1, which warehouse and distribution facilities must adhere to. The correct and adequate lighting levels must be implemented to support the well-being of workers, prevent accidents, and reduce eye strain. It is also essential that an emergency lighting systems is in place, to maintain visibility and provide safe evacuation routes in case of power outages or other emergencies.

Strategies for Optimizing Warehouse Lighting in the UK

To overcome the challenges of lighting distribution warehouses in the UK, there are several aspects that need to be considered, which include the following:

  • Conduct a comprehensive lighting assessment:
    • If it is an existing facility, understand and identify how areas are to be used or could be improved. If it is a new build evaluate the operational requirements. Consider factors such as warehouse layout, racking configurations, workforce operations and movement, natural light sources, and energy consumption targets.
  • Implement energy-efficient lighting solutions:
    • Switch to modern LEDs or other energy-efficient lighting technologies to reduce energy consumption and minimise operating costs.
  • Utilise dynamic lighting controls:
    • Implement smart lighting sensor systems that adapt to changing natural light levels and occupancy patterns. These will optimise energy usage whilst still providing adequate illumination.
  • Design and implement automatic managed control lighting:
    • This will avoid lights being left on when areas are not being used. Lighting will switch on with movement detection and switch off or dim, after a set period. A managed lighting system will also enable you to control the lux levels of individual lights or cluster of light fittings. This will provide significant energy savings in both efficiencies and costs to your business.
  • Maintenance of your lighting system:
    • Fitting modern LEDs offers substantially longer life, which in turn reduces maintenance and costs of replacements. However, it is important to regularly check your lighting, against any operational changes and functionality of lighting systems, to maintain your energy efficiencies.
    • With modern LED lighting having a longer life, manufactures are willing to provide extended manufacturer warranties, some up to 7 years. This provides your business with additional cost savings and reduced maintenance.

Fitting the right lighting system for your warehouse facility.

You can see it is essential that careful consideration is needed when designing and implementing a lighting system to meet the needs of a warehouse and distribution facility.

By understanding the different aspects, such as operational needs, natural light, the workforce, building orientation, an effective lighting system can be designed and installed that meets these needs. Very importantly, it also provides a safe, productive and energy efficient space.

Having the expertise and knowledge

The complexities of lighting a distribution warehouse in the UK, comes with challenges. With our many years of experience and expertise, Gilks can design and install the correct lighting system to illuminate your warehouse and distribution facility that will meet your operational needs and energy efficient targets.

With greater pressures on businesses to reduce energy consumption, we will work with you to meet your energy targets, and help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Contact our team if you need to improve your energy efficiencies and create a more productive environment for your workforce, throughout your warehouse and distribution facility.

Read our top tips, latest news and case studies to find out more about how Gilks can support your business.

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