Three steps to managing transport and logistics more sustainably

Blue Yonder

By Daniel Kohut, Vice President ANZ, Blue Yonder
Wednesday, 11 August, 2021

Three steps to managing transport and logistics more sustainably

Transport is one of the biggest contributors to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory update from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources showed transport accounting for 17.6% of the total 87.8 million tonnes of CO2, exceeded only by electricity generation (33.6%) and the burning of fuels by the manufacturing, mining, residential and commercial sectors (20.4%).

Australia produces only about 3% of global CO2 emissions, but per capita is one of the world’s biggest contributors — and transport is the fastest growing source of emissions in Australia. According to a June 2020 report from ClimateWorks Australia, “Australia’s road vehicle fleet is one of the most energy- and emissions-intensive in the world; the nation’s per capita aviation emissions are the world’s highest.”

There is increasing pressure on every sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but none more so than transport and logistics. According to the ClimateWorks study, demand for freight is increasing. Domestic freight volumes are projected to grow by 25% between 2018 and 2040, driven by Australia’s export market, growing population, increased e-commerce transactions and consumer expectations of fast delivery.

In today’s complex and competitive marketplace, transport and logistics companies face considerable challenges to reduce CO2 emissions from their activities. Fundamental changes to supply chain practices are needed to enable transportation and asset management organisations to operate efficiently, profitably and with minimal environmental impact.

Reducing environmental impact

Transport efficiency can be improved by reducing unnecessary kilometres, better freight load management, greater data transparency and increased communication and coordination between stakeholders in the sector — and at the heart of this sustainable approach is technology.

Australia-based Linfox, the largest road transport company in Asia Pacific, is an example of what can be achieved by working diligently to increase the sustainability of transport operations. In 2007, it set a target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. It achieved this in 2017 and continues to work on initiatives to reduce its environmental impact.

There are many tools available in the market to support transport companies in their quest for greater efficiency and sustainability. These technologies enable organisations to gain a better understanding of their greenhouse gas emissions, implement measures to reduce them and create smarter transport strategies.

Digitising workflows

Despite being heavily regulated with strict compliance and record-keeping requirements, Australia’s transport industry is still highly reliant on paper-based processes. Transitioning to digital-based workflows significantly reduces the amounts of paper used, eliminates time-consuming manual processes and removes many sources of error that can have significant consequences; for example, a simple address error could send a truck on a time- and fuel-consuming wild goose chase.

SaaS-based transportation management applications enable customers to eliminate most manual paper-driven processes and improve efficiencies, with software-based:

  • pickup and drop quantity confirmation
  • trailer check-in and check-out
  • dock scheduling and yard management
  • freight claim management
  • digital signatures and shipping documents, including eBOL.

Using intelligent tools to take out the guesswork

Legacy transport planning tools aim to maximise efficiency simply by minimising travel distances. However, these tools fail to consider the many other factors that can impact efficiency, including real-time traffic and weather conditions, and driver schedules.

Modern planning tools leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to ‘intelligently’ factor in all of these variables and support real-time schedule modification to reduce carbon emissions and avoid delays. Instead of focusing on cutting down driver miles, these extra considerations help to build a more realistic plan, allowing transport companies to make more informed decisions. For example, a truck experiencing delays due to heavy traffic can be automatically rerouted to a closer pick-up location, without requiring the manual intervention of a fleet manager.

Many supply chains have poor sustainability credentials. The demand for greater sustainability being placed on all industries has created new challenges for supply chains, especially the transport component. By digitising their processes and activities, deploying sophisticated software, and gathering and leveraging real-time information, transport and logistics companies can meet these challenges. They can identify and exploit more efficient and lower-emission options, and build more sustainable supply chains, without incurring excessive costs.

Image credit: ©

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