This Grainger DC is the world’s largest platinum LEED
commercial facility, but that’s not all it has to offer.
BY ANNA WELLS
It should be no surprise that a $9+ billion company like Grainger has the ambition to think big. The company’s Minooka, IL branch
– a one million square foot central stocking
distribution center – has all the finishing touch-es of a top-of-the-line, premium efficiency
facility. And efficiency, in this case, has a dual
meaning: Not only is the DC outfitted with a
state-of-the-art automated system to enable
quick deliveries for customers, it’s also the
world's largest LEED certified platinum-rated
facilities for Commercial Interiors, meaning the
environmental impact was considered from the
Taking the LEED on Energy
There are 16 LEED certified buildings in the
Grainger network in U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
According to Grainger, it was the first industrial distributor to have LEED certified facilities,
which, on average, reduce energy costs by
30 percent, water usage by 35 to 50 percent,
and overall waste by as much as 90 percent. In
Minooka, this waste reduction is accomplished
through a number of strategies, which include:
• An approximately 2,200 square-foot solar wall, which uses air
and solar capabilities to help reduce energy consumption.
• Energy efficient lighting along with motion sensors.
• Electric automobile charger stations.
It’s important for a company like Grainger to “walk the walk,”
especially as it touts more service-based solutions for its customers
that focus on sustainability and energy savings. Grainger’s 16 LEED
facilities assume a total of 3. 7 million square feet and the business
continues to look for ways to reduce environmental waste.
Keeping Inventory Moving
But the sustainability and recycling components are just one piece
of the puzzle. In the end, Grainger is all about getting product to
the customer in the fastest way possible while keeping the needs
of employees in mind. Flexibility is an import-
ant element to this operation, as Grainger
works to maintain certain benefits for its 450
employees. “Bright Ideas” boards encourage
collaboration and idea-sharing, and the facil-
ity’s “Decompression Room” allows Minooka
associates to unwind with some TV or a game
of ping pong. The facility is also home to a
state-of-the-art fitness room, which employees
have full access to.
From an ergonomic standpoint, worksta-
tions are developed in wood prototypes first
to provide the ability to shift configurations so
heights are optimal in the end product. They
are designed to eliminate pushing or pulling
of carts, helping to reduce the risk of sprains and strains. As they
load and unload, workers can discard unneeded packaging onto
an arm-height conveyor system that moves the excess through the
facility. According to Robert Favaro, Director of DC operations, the
facility recycled 303 tons of cardboard last year, along with 22 tons
of plastic wrap. Metal scrap and banding is also recycled.
Industrial vending machines provide easy access to heavy use
items like gloves and box cutters through the employee’s ID cards,
and communication is facilitated by individual radios. Efficiency
is important since the suburban Chicago DC’s commitment is to
provide same-day service into the city when an order is placed by
noon. Employees dubbed “water spiders” deliver boxes to individ-
ual packing stations so employees don’t need to leave their areas
to re-stock supplies. Favaro says one of the facility’s top goals is to
COVER STORY DISTRIBUTOR PROFILE
Jason Frankovich is one of 450 warehouse and logistics team members who
work at Grainger’s Minooka DC.