Going green when getting something from Point A to Point B seems counterproductive when you think about how important it is to get goods where they need to go. At the same time, it is just as important to keep shipping and transport costs to a minimum, especially in a competitive market. Despite these facts, even the logistics industry isn’t immune to efforts to make the planet a better place to live, work and do business.
Changes in the trucking industry are helping to drive the green trend for businesses that depend on trucks to transport goods. In 2007, UPS made headlines by requiring drivers to only make right turns to cut fuel costs and increase efficiency. At the time, such a move seemed out of the ordinary. Not so much today. Government regulations now require certain updates such as fuel-efficient tires and regular inspections. Many trucking companies are also updating their fleets to reduce maintenance needs and keep trucks on the road. On top of this, some states have requirements to reduce or eliminate idle time in an effort to cut emissions.
Warehouse Storage and Distribution
in warehousing and distribution, energy costs can be reduced in simple, cost-efficient ways such as switching to LED lighting in warehouses. LED lighting can cut energy costs by about 80 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Another simple update is to use motion sensors that only illuminate areas when a truck or other vehicle is actually present at the loading dock or other pickup points. Using solar panels or even just adding some skylights in a warehouse to take advantage of natural lighting can further reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.
the location where a warehousing and distribution center is located is key decision factor in making logistics a little greener. It’s not really that easy to move warehouses to the most convenient location. Adjustments in warehouse and distribution center location aren’t easily changed. In addition to the best logistical location, other factors that go into warehouse location include the availability of a skilled workforce, tax benefits and investment friendliness and the overall quality of infrastructure. A proposed solution already being experimented with in Europe is finding a logistics partner strategically closer to the target market.
Logistics Partners in the Digital Age
Logistics is more than just physically getting something where it needs to go. Companies could, for example, share a common IT platform for real-time data transmission. This concept can cross technologies, both old and new. If one company is better at physical movement of goods and another is better at the electronic transmission of data, combining efforts could save both companies money. In Europe, this has been branded the time-to-market concept. This is a concept that involves establishing relationships with partners close to the target market – both physically and electronically. The idea is to combine resources to improve overall efficiency. On a green level, that means a smaller carbon footprint for both companies in the partnership.
Real World Examples
FedEx published a Global Citizenship Update in 2010 that detailed the company’s green logistics efforts. Some of the most noticeable efforts include switching to fuel-efficient Boeing 777F planes, purchasing electronic vehicles to cut carbon emissions and teaching drivers eco-driving techniques. Eco-driving, according to the report, includes emphasizing gentle acceleration, adopting a flat speed and reducing idling times. Aside from the right-turn only policy, UPS has adopted a sustainable packaging program that involves designing packaging to meet client’s need and eliminate waste. DHL Express, a division of the German logistics company Deutsche Post, allows clients to track carbon emissions of different delivery options using carbon reporting software.
As with other industries that go green, a big reason for the move to a greener logistics industry is to cut costs in a tough economic climate and enjoy other incentives for reducing carbon emissions. From a marketing perspective, it just makes good business sense. Increased fuel-efficiency offsets higher gas prices, passing the savings on to the consumer. It’s a win-win situation for businesses and consumers alike. To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it may not be easy being green, but it does have its perks.