Randa Accessories is realizing substantial gains — both environmental and financial — from its decision to boost the sustainability standards of its 524,800-square-foot logistics center in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
Originally part of a $25 million infrastructure program unveiled in 2013 and including other Randa facilities, the cost of the Tahoe-Reno logistics center alone rose to that amount as the building received LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, rather than the silver designation originally sought, and invested in additional storage and conveyance systems, an enterprise resource planning system and other equipment and software prior to the center’s January 2014 opening.
With enhancements at facilities in its New Orleans and Toronto facilities, the overall budget came in at about $32 million.
According to Randy Kennedy, executive vice president and chief logistics officer, the Tahoe-Reno facility incorporates an extensive LED lighting system; the use of rigid insulation on interior walls, and modifications to storage systems to reduce the use of corrugated paper, cutting its annual paper usage by 193 tons, the equivalent of 2,780 trees, and helping to lower its airfreight burden by 35,860 pounds a year.
“Our goal was long-term operating efficiency,” Kennedy told WWD. “You have to be as efficient as possible in a highly competitive market. We are passionate about the protection and conservation of the earth’s resources and proud of the stride we have made in this pursuit.”
He estimated that the various savings achieved through energy and materials savings would help the facility produce a return on Randa’s investment within three years, faster than originally planned.
Many changes, such as the use of rigid insulation, were a result of Randa’s ongoing discussions with its customers and partners as they worked collaboratively on sustainability efforts, Kennedy said.
Adjustments to its air-conditioning system in its New Orleans facility helped reduce energy consumption by nearly 400,000 kilowatt hours a year, equal to the energy used by 37 typical U.S. homes. A water-conservation program in New Orleans helped Randa cut water consumption by more than 1 million gallons a year.
Randa took advantage of the Tahoe-Reno facility’s location to tackle its lighting needs. The area receives an average of 300 days of sunlight a year, so, in its most ambitious deployment of a logistics lighting system using LED fixtures first put to use in 2007, Tahoe-Reno was built with both “daylight harvesting” and motion-sensor technology. Lights turn off when adequate sunlight is passing through the building’s 325 skylights and up to half of the lights are automatically turned off when no activity is sensed below.
The LED fixture setup used 46 percent less energy than a system made with T-5 fluorescent fixtures, the company said, constituting a reduction in carbon footprint of about 1,000 tons annually.
Randa’s business has expanded as it’s diversified, picking up companies such as Wemco, Swank and Humphreys in recent years and changing the ways in which its products are stored and shipped. In 2009, the company changed its luggage storage process from one that was pallet-based to one employing non-pallet-based bulk storage and clamp-truck processes for more efficient movement and product picking. The moves eliminated the need for 4,000 wooden pallets and increased storage capacity within the same cubic footprint by more than 30 percent.
With both owned and licensed brands moving through its system, the company established an integrated ERP to bring together all facets of the organization.
David Katz, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Randa, pointed out that the diversity of its product heightened the need for a new ERP that could address the entire breadth of its product line.
“One advantage to being a private company is that we can make investments that generate returns beyond pure ROI and shareholder value,” Katz said. “The cost to Randa for LEED certification was substantial and well worth the sustainable value to our community. We expect a reasonable long-term financial return on this investment.
“Our business grew, as did our needs,” he concluded.