In industrial environments like manufacturing facilities and distribution warehouses, the importance of optimizing lighting conditions cannot be overstated. Daylighting offers numerous benefits that positively impact productivity, energy efficiency, and employee well-being. In this article, we will delve into the advantages of implementing daylighting solutions in manufacturing and distribution warehouses. We’ll explore the considerations specific to these environments, including the challenges of large open spaces, high ceilings, and logistical operations. Additionally, we’ll discuss several popular daylighting solutions and how they can address the unique needs of manufacturing and distribution warehouses.

The Benefits of Daylighting in Industrial Environments

Though daylighting can reduce costs and enhance employee wellbeing in every industry, daylighting solutions for warehouses and manufacturing facilities offer some unique benefits. Let’s examine some research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Intelligent Workplace design studio to look at what the addition of daylighting can do for a warehouse environment.

Daylighting Reduces Absenteeism and Increases Productivity

According to the Cool Companies report by the Non-Profit Center for Energy & Climate Solutions, VeriFone, a subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard in Costa Mesa, Calif., implemented energy-efficient upgrades to their 76,000-square-foot building, incorporating roof skylights and other energy-efficient features. On sunny days, workers used only natural daylight from the skylights and small task lights. Employees experienced a significant improvement in their work environment, with no more complaints about end-of-the-day headaches or end-of-the-week sluggishness. They attributed their enhanced work experience to the extensive use of daylighting. Remarkably, absenteeism decreased by 40-45%, employee productivity increased by 5%, and energy bills were slashed by 50%.

These positive outcomes contributed to a payback period of less than a year, resulting in a remarkable return on investment exceeding 100 percent. This successful project showcases the remarkable benefits of daylighting and energy-efficient measures in commercial buildings.

Daylighting Improves Safety and Reduces Workers’ Compensation Cases

Proper lighting plays a vital role in creating safe working conditions by enhancing visibility and reducing the risk of accidents. Adequate daylight contributes to increased awareness of potential hazards and obstacles.

Studies have demonstrated that daylight is superior to artificial lighting when it comes to providing consistent and uniform illumination across large spaces. This uniformity minimizes shadows and dark spots, ensuring that workers have a clear view of their surroundings.

Prince Street Technologies, a subsidiary of Interface Carpet, constructed a new 160,000-square-foot factory in Cartersville, Georgia, with abundant natural daylighting via 32 skylights. Employees making richly colored carpets benefit from the daylight, and the factory’s unique 60-foot picture window has significantly improved their attitude. Within three years, workers’ compensation cases dropped from 20 per year to less than one per year, resulting in estimated annual savings of $100,000 to $200,000, more than the value of energy savings alone.

Daylighting Minimizes Mistakes and Improves Quality Control Processes

Daylight provides a spectrum of light that closely mimics natural outdoor lighting conditions, enabling workers to see details and colors more accurately. This aspect is particularly valuable in inspection and quality control processes, where the ability to detect defects and variations in products is critical.

Research has shown that the availability of natural light positively influences color perception, enabling workers to identify even subtle variations in products. Companies like Toyota and Boeing have successfully implemented daylighting strategies in their manufacturing facilities, resulting in improved quality control and employee productivity.

Insufficient or poorly designed lighting can lead to decreased focus, attention, and cognitive performance, resulting in increased human errors. Daylight, on the other hand, has a positive impact on circadian rhythms and cognitive function, reducing the likelihood of mistakes.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the correlation between workplace lighting and mistake rates, and professionals working in well-lit environments consistently report experiencing fewer errors and a higher level of concentration and job satisfaction. Interviews with workers in daylight-rich environments reveal a strong preference for the presence of natural light, emphasizing its positive impact on their work performance.

Important Considerations for Manufacturing and Distribution Businesses

When choosing daylighting solutions for a manufacturing or distribution warehouse, several important considerations come into play, taking into account the unique challenges posed by large open spaces, high ceilings, and logistical operations. Here are some key factors to keep in mind.

Lighting Uniformity

Ensuring consistent and uniform lighting throughout the warehouse is crucial. Large open spaces and high ceilings can create lighting discrepancies, with areas closer to windows or skylights receiving more light than those farther away. Careful planning, incorporating multiple daylighting sources, and utilizing lighting control systems can help achieve a more even distribution of natural light, minimizing variations in illumination levels.

Glare Control

Glare can be a significant challenge in warehouses, especially with high ceilings and large windows. Direct sunlight or excessive brightness can create discomfort and hinder visibility, affecting productivity and safety. Employing glare control strategies such as diffusing glazing, shading systems, or light redirecting devices can help mitigate glare while harnessing natural light effectively.

Lighting Integration with Operational Needs

Manufacturing and distribution warehouses often have specific operational requirements that need to be considered. This includes accommodating machinery layouts, storage systems, racking configurations, and movement of goods and equipment. The placement and design of daylighting solutions should be carefully coordinated to avoid any interference with workflow, equipment placement, or safety protocols.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Due to the size and scale of manufacturing and distribution warehouses, maintenance and cleaning of daylighting systems can be challenging. Accessibility to skylights, windows, or TDDs should be taken into account during the design phase to ensure ease of maintenance and cleaning, including access for equipment or personnel if necessary.

Energy Efficiency

While daylighting brings numerous benefits, it is important to consider energy efficiency. Optimal daylighting design should strike a balance between maximizing natural light while minimizing unwanted heat gain or loss. This may involve selecting appropriate glazing materials, integrating shading systems or light control devices, and optimizing insulation to ensure energy efficiency and thermal comfort.

By carefully considering these important factors, manufacturing and distribution warehouses can harness the power of natural light while addressing the challenges posed by their unique environment. Collaborating with daylighting experts, architects, and engineers can help in developing customized solutions that align with the operational needs, enhance productivity, optimize energy efficiency, and create a comfortable working environment for employees.

Common Daylighting Solutions for Manufacturing and Distribution Warehouses

Daylighting plays a crucial role in the design and functionality of warehouses and manufacturing buildings. Beyond the traditional reliance on artificial lighting, incorporating natural light into these industrial spaces offers numerous benefits. Here are two of the most common daylighting solutions that are widely used in warehouses and manufacturing buildings.

Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs)

Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs) are an innovative solution that brings natural light into areas where traditional windows or skylights may not be feasible. These devices consist of a rooftop dome that captures sunlight and directs it through reflective tubes, delivering it deep into the interior space. TDDs are particularly beneficial in areas with limited roof access or where structural considerations make traditional daylighting challenging. They offer flexibility in installation, allowing for easy integration into existing structures or new construction projects. TDDs provide consistent, diffused light that reduces glare and creates a more comfortable working environment. They are an excellent choice for areas that require consistent lighting, such as corridors, storage spaces, or production areas. Additionally, TDDs can enhance energy efficiency by reducing the reliance on artificial lighting, resulting in cost savings and sustainability benefits.

Commercial Skylights

Skylights are a popular choice for warehouses and manufacturing buildings, as they allow abundant natural light to enter the space from above. They provide a direct connection to the sky, creating a sense of openness and improving the overall ambiance. Skylights enhance the visual aesthetics of the space, reducing the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours and resulting in energy savings. They also offer the opportunity for natural ventilation, improving indoor air quality and reducing the reliance on mechanical systems. Skylights can be customized to meet specific design and performance requirements, including considerations for insulation, glazing options, and thermal efficiency.

Consult Experienced MN Daylighting Specialists

When it comes to choosing the best daylighting solutions for manufacturing and distribution spaces, consulting with Daylight Specialists can provide invaluable expertise and guidance. With our extensive knowledge and experience in the field, we can help companies navigate the unique challenges and considerations of their specific environment. By working closely with Daylight Specialists, manufacturing and distribution companies can ensure they select the most suitable daylighting solutions that enhance productivity, energy efficiency, and employee well-being in their space. Contact our team to learn more about daylighting solutions for your space.