Green and sustainable logistics

Worth the investment: How sustainability within logistics can be worthwhile.

There is a lot of discussion within the transportation industry about sustainability. In a survey by the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL, The Supply Chain Network) last year, 38 percent of those asked replied that they take sustainability into account as long as it does not mean additional outlay. But here the two topics – sustainability and economic efficiency – go hand in hand. The awareness is there. Here are some tips on implementation.

The road haulage industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) in the EU. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles produce more than a quarter of the CO2 emissions in road haulage. Due to the increasing volume in road haulage transportation, emissions have not decreased in recent years despite vehicles having more efficient engines. Due to the increasing demand for transport capacity, it is estimated that there will be an increase of up to 10 percent by 2030. The pressure on the transportation industry is therefore continuing to increase. Competition is high amongst companies and the profit margins are small.

But this is where “green logistics” offers leverage that is not yet being used strategically by many companies. Quite a few measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions also reduce costs and increase the efficiency within a company. Platforms for pooling transport runs decrease not only transport costs, but also fuel consumption and the volume of traffic – and therefore the emission of gases that harm the environment. British research initiative FreightShare Lab (FSL) is investigating these effects until spring 2020. Theoretical assumptions about the savings potential are to be examined in practice. In the United Kingdom alone, it is assumed that a savings potential of 20 percent of CO2 emissions can be achieved through better utilisation of existing transport capacities.

But how can you put green logistics into place? 

The market offers tried-and-tested methods in many different areas. Digital solutions and platforms not only enable different measures to be combined, but they are set up precisely so they can complement each other in a useful way. This is because implementing a package of measures multiplies the sustainable effects in terms of economy and environment. Digital networking facilitates the precise and comprehensive optimisation of vehicles and fleets. Tyres with the lowest possible rolling resistance – low-resistance tyres – can reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by more than 6 percent, for example. In turn, this results in fewer pollutants and lower fuel bills. In conjunction with systems for automatic tyre pressure monitoring, this factor is increased further. This step is also easy to implement as digital services ensure you have an overview and provide you with easy access. Even the technical data of individual vehicles can be easily monitored on one screen. Digital solutions which link entire companies or fleets often automatically detect where you can make additional savings. Artificial intelligence enables you to simulate processes and find more efficient approaches. “Green logistics” is therefore possible, and when it is implemented properly, it is neither expensive nor complicated. But this is an area where companies waste a lot of potential to make savings.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Modern technologies open up new approaches which are expected to have a great future. But this is provided they are implemented and used. The barriers to this are not technical. It is rather that their use requires a change in thinking. Reticence and prejudices against IT solutions have to be overcome. Individual digital services can be used without all processes immediately having to be changed over. These solutions are available simply and flexibly – for operators of all vehicles and fleet sizes. Even really simple measures have an impact and thereby benefit the company and the environment alike. More and more customers are paying attention to sustainable processes and

are also demanding them from their suppliers and partners. This means an additional competitive edge can be gained cost-effectively. The amount of small changes ultimately makes the difference. When cost-benefit calculations contribute to more sustainable logistics, everyone ultimately wins. 

This is how “green logistics” helps the environment and companies:

  • More than 37 percent of trucks on the roads in Germany are empty according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrtbundesamt) – unused capacities which cost a lot of money and emissions.
  • In 2025, 15 to 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions will be saved, compared to the values in 2019 – if modern, fuel-saving technologies are implemented consistently.
  • Even the use of improved lubricants – with an expenditure of EUR 23 – will save almost EUR 2,000 in fuel over five years and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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