Low Carbon Emission Supply Chain | Reduce Carbon Footprint

by : Melinda Elmowy

While the topic of greening supply chains has been a hot topic for several years, many companies involved in shipping and freight forwarding in today's dynamic global economy are overlooking many obvious and cost-efficient ways they can reduce the industry's carbon footprint.

A recent Eye for Transport study was conducted that surveyed more than 250 supply chain executives to determine their views on greening. Nine percent identified green issues as their No.1 priority over the next three years, while nearly 70% said green issues would become more important to their processes over that time. The survey found greening to be "fundamentally a co-operative process," with most of the successful programs based on "changing relationships with suppliers, partners and logistics providers." Indeed, 28% of respondents said they currently partner, or plan to partner, with their logistics partners to help green their processes.

With the new technologies available to logistics providers today, there are few disciplines that lend themselves to the "greening of the environment" as well as do transportation and logistics. Shipping and distribution services account for three-fourths of a company's carbon footprint, the measurement of the impact human activities have on the environment as determined by the amount of carbon dioxide produced by greenhouse gas emissions. There is no reason the logistics industry can't do more to solve this problem.

CargoWise edi has been facilitating customers' green initiatives for years with its ediEnterprise integrated software system that provides a paperless approach to forwarders' supply chain operations, reducing the paper trail and facilitating the push to a paper free office. When discussing carbon-neutral initiatives companies can implement to help green supply chains, they should be more than just talking about reducing fuel emissions.

Many of the "cradle-to-grave" initiatives companies can institute for a greener environment simply involve eliminating waste while improving productivity. In the air cargo industry alone, we could fill about 40 Boeing 747 freightliners each year with paper wasted on documentation, not to mention the labor hours necessary to produce and handle it all. Yet, we continue to see companies that are not taking advantage of the available automation that would save both the environment and logistics costs. The paperless office has not arrived; but it is possible.

CargoWise suggests five critical areas that would enable companies to automate documentation to "green the global supply chain" while creating greater efficiencies and reducing overall operational costs.

&bullAutomate Documentation to Reduce Your Paper Trail. Too many companies still use paper documentation, which not only creates waste, but places limitations on the work process by placing it in the hands of whichever employee holds the paper copies, by switching to a quick and easy electronic system, all necessary process documentation is always available to any staff member who requires access to the files. Electronic documentation also vastly reduces the amount of unnecessary paperwork throughout the supply chain process.

&bullCreate a Centralized Repository for Documentation. Regardless of your documentation process, establishing an automated, centralized database repository for all job, client, sales and staff related documents in an electronic format will vastly increase efficiency and productivity, while facilitating the push toward a paperless office environment. The storage and centralization of documents greatly simplifies the ability of staff to access the central database electronically to update, send and store documents such as bills of lading, commercial invoices, packing lists and other pertinent data as it moves through the supply chain.

&bullIntegrate Your Route Optimization and Consolidation Process. The key to creating a greener supply chain lies in the integration of all documentation between you and your customers via an integrated electronic data management system that permits automatic access to files as they move through the supply chain. These documents can be automatically attached with email invoices, scanned directly into files, automatically allocated by type and reference via barcode dividers and accessed by all trading partners via your web site. The ediEnterprise system effectively supports a forwarder's route optimization and consolidation processes, which means less carbon dioxide is generated for a lower carbon footprint.

&bullCreate an Automated Storage and Archive System. It is important to create a central storage and archive system for electronic documents that can accessed by your staff and customers at any time for reference. Maintaining files in an automated archive vastly reduces the amount of paperwork involved in supply chain management process over a long period of time, reduces the need for filing cabinets and frees up important floor space. A documentation module such as that found in CargoWise ediEnterprise will enable you to document your electronic files, as well as store them for future access.

&bullImprove ROI by Greening Supply Chain Activities. Greening your supply chain can be accomplished with a minimum of capital investment and can improve the ROI of your customers, vendors and company. New e-documentation technology makes your forwarding operation more efficient in many ways, creating fewer costs with a greater impact on the greening of the supply chain.

Automating a robust integrated documentation and storage process with the new technologies available just makes sense if we are to create a more paperless environment and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases associated with global supply chain process. The time to implement these changes in your operating procedures is now. Not only will an integrated and automated e-documentation system increase productivity and help eliminate many of the environmental problems we have throughout global supply chains; but it will cost less to accomplish now before new governmental regulations come into play.