Designing an environmentally conscious supply chain is the right thing to do – and it can actually save time and money. But engineering the ideal management system doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a company taking the time to assess its current supply chain design and finding areas for improvement.
The first question a company should ask itself before attempting to implement efficiencies should be: Just how green is my supply chain operation currently? A good way to begin this process is by breaking down the different parts of the supply chain operation by looking at everything from the trucks and other equipment used to transport goods, to warehouse management operations, to administrative processes. Once a baseline is established you can then seek more eco-friendly opportunities.
Let’s take a look at a few places you can engineer a little extra green into your supply chain.
The overriding logistics goal is always getting the right product to the right place at the right time, and for the right price. There are several tweaks, small and large, that a company can make to ensure further efficiencies and cost savings.
Simply selecting the right shipping partners can be a good step toward further increasing sustainability within a supply chain. The right shipping partner can for instance select the type of ship used in the transport of goods, which in some cases can lead toward an elusive increase in shipping efficiency.
The International Council on Clean Transportation in its 2013 report, Long-term potential for increased shipping efficiency, places a major emphasis on selecting newer, more up-to-date ships that incorporate the latest technology, claiming the right shipping fleet can dramatically increase operational efficiency as well as reduce emissions intensity.
“The findings indicate that industry-leading ships are about twice as efficient as industry laggards across major ship types, due to new ships’ technical efficiency improvements, operational speed practices, and ship size differences,” according to the study.
The Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent, non-partisan nonprofit driven toward efficient and restorative use of resources, identifies the creation of a more efficient truck and freight industry as one of its main objectives.
The non-profit identifies certain critical steps related to improved engines and synergistic technologies that allow truck to deliver freight at half or even one-third as ways of achieving efficiency and cost savings within a supply chain management operation.
Additionally, ground transportation efficiencies can be achieved by using a 3PL partner with existing strategically-located distribution centers, or performing a network study to model an optimal distribution and transportation network. By optimizing distribution networks around final delivery locations, fuel consumption and emissions are greatly reduced.
But perhaps the best and easiest way to achieve efficiency in your supply chain operation is through changes in warehouse operational design. These efficiencies can be achieved through simple every day tasks, such as reducing packaging waste and reusing or recycling materials. Many times, unnecessary warehouse waste can be identified through a lean action workout. These lean action workouts provide an intense focus on safety, quality, and delivery for warehouse staff, and ultimately result in cost savings thanks to overall improved warehouse efficiency.
Sustainable, “green” practices are not only an environmentally-responsible decision; they’re good for the financial stability of a business- which in turn allows the business to be a vehicle for positively impacting the communities around it. At LEGACY Supply Chain services, we constantly see that a thoughtful approach to reducing waste and improving efficiency through supply chain engineering reaps cost savings. In fact, we are proud to have been deemed a 2014 Green Supply Chain Partner (G75) in the June 2014 issue of Inbound Logistics. LEGACY won the recognition for an overall corporate sustainability mission that integrates green practices into its business model, while positively impacting LEGACY’s employees, their customers, and the communities they operate in.
Here are just some of the ways LEGACY is already helping create eco-friendly supply chain operations:
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