Peter Ideström examines some green initiatives in the transportation sector and explains why better control of your freight spend will also give you full control of your green transport logistics.
Environmental impact of transport
You say you want a revolution within freight transport – to be a part of the environmental future. But are you really using the available tools on the market? Are you really prioritising the right things? Allow me to explain what I think.
Transportation is necessary to move goods and people between different locations. However, transportation often contributes to various types of environmental problems, such as hazardous air pollution, noise, and ocean acidification. Many modes of transport use large volumes of fossil fuel, which produces high carbon dioxide emissions and accelerate the greenhouse effect.
That the transport system we benefit from is, at the same time, one of our greatest environmental problems is a conundrum.
Recent green initiatives
Across the globe, we are already adopting a more environmentally focused attitude towards transportation and spending billions on research and green projects. The Swedish government’s assignment Green Corridors is an example of an initiative aimed at addressing transportation from a holistic perspective and making it sustainable in all contexts: economically, environmentally and socially.
We can’t see the future, but what we do know is that clean air, water, plants, and food are essential for our personal health and wellbeing. The relationship between the environment and humanity is one of interdependence, each affects the other. But are system support providers, carriers and transport buyers embracing this future or is the lack of priority just delaying the path forward?
We need to accelerate green logistics!
Green logistics is the process of minimising damage to the environment via a company’s logistics operations. This can include transportation and resource-intensive processes such as inventory management, warehousing, order fulfilment and distribution. It can also include processes such as reverse logistics and disposal logistics for reuse, recycling and waste disposal.
Let’s take a quick look at last mile delivery as an example. The concept of “City Logistics”, wherein last mile delivery constitutes part of the solution, aims to reduce the drawbacks associated with freight transportation in urban areas. The idea is to view individual stakeholders and decisions as components of an integrated logistics system. The concept utilises 100% eco-friendly vehicles as one of the mainstays in urban areas to reduce emissions and increase safety for citizens.
All (or almost all) the big cities in Europe are implementing a city logistics solution as a standard, now we just need to connect to it and learn how to use it.
The cleanest transport and load factor
There is every possibility from a system supplier’s point of view of having a fully automatic function in place for multi-leg routing which will allow you to use a freight bicycle or an electric city trailer for your last mile delivery. Or just connect to the urban distribution centre and let the transport supplier consolidate your last mile delivery for you. We don’t need 10-12 metre long trucks burning diesel when driving in urban areas.
Or why not connect to off-peak deliveries with silent electric vehicles? There are, of course, many more initiatives around the world aiming to create more eco-friendly solutions and to find less polluting options for distribution.
The cleanest transportation, however, is no transportation at all. In many countries, the average load factor of trucks is only 50%, meaning that half of the pollution is caused by trucks driving nothing from A to B. How is that even possible in 2019?
Fill rate is an important parameter
Fill rate is the parameter that most affects the ratio of emission levels to shipping volume. Filling trucks, trains, boats, etc. as much as possible will minimise the kilometres travelled throughout the supply chain.
That is an important key step towards optimising the use of resources, i.e. reducing emissions and reducing cost. Lowering the total travelled kilometres affords additional environmental benefits through reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, of which a positive side effect will be fewer traffic jams and accidents as well. That’s a good start!
The question is: How close are you to your environmental targets and do you have the tools needed to analyse your own environmental impact based on your daily logistics flow?
Can you be greener by using a TMS?
Transport Management Systems (TMS) and climate impact are connected: better control of your freight spend can give you invaluable data for reducing your impact on the environment.
Imagine the best of AI and machine learning through a TMS solution, the ability to track and modify your flow of goods in real-time to improve operational performance. Combine it with modern analytics and reporting services to gain even greater insights into your transport operations.
A first step might be to minimise your risks by finding out what drives your costs (and carbon emissions). By establishing routines and systems for producing input and reports automatically and connecting them to top modern analysis tools, you can reveal the precise areas where your company can improve.
If you have full control of your freight spend, you will also have full control of your green transport logistics.
We all have the same goal, and we will soon be forced to work together more broadly to achieve plenty of more environmental changes around the world. So why not gain an advantage and start right away?