The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
As more of the world’s processes and systems move online, most industries—even those that are not traditionally thought of as “tech companies”—are now opening up to digital transformation. This pivot not only helps these companies stay competitive but in many cases can also help them improve their environmental sustainability efforts.
Sustainability today is so much more than just a buzzword. With consumers, employees, and shareholders increasingly interested in supporting eco-friendly initiatives, going green is less of a choice and more of a necessity for companies across industries.
Logistics companies may not be the first that comes to mind when you think of digital transformation or sustainability, but in fact, these two concepts go hand-in-hand for shippers. Here are the top five ways that digital transformation can help logistics companies improve their environmental sustainability:
GPS tracking and data analytics software can help fleet managers plan the most efficient routes for their vehicles, based on traffic patterns, weather conditions, and more. This not only reduces fuel consumption and emissions but can also save the company money on operating costs.
While these technologies have been around for a while, they are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. In the past, route optimization software was only able to consider static data points like roadways and intersections. But now, with real-time data and predictions about traffic flow, these tools can help fleet managers plan even more efficient routes that avoid congestion and delays—at any time of day or night.
Route optimization helps reduce a company’s emissions, but there are other ways that digital transformation can drive down environmental impact as well.
Logistics companies today have access to a wide range of low-emission and alternative fuel vehicles, from electric trucks to those powered by compressed natural gas. And as battery technology continues to improve, the range and capabilities of these vehicles are only going to increase.
Some telematics systems even offer “green driving” reports that provide feedback to drivers on their fuel efficiency and emissions. This type of data can help fleet managers identify which vehicles and drivers are performing the best and make changes accordingly.
Digitization does more than just help logistics companies save money on fuel and emissions. It can also help them make better use of their assets as a whole—including their vehicles, drivers, and warehouses.
Asset utilization is a key metric in the logistics industry and one that can have a major impact on a company’s environmental footprint.
Digital tools can help logistics companies better utilize their assets in several key ways.
Fleet management software, for instance, can help dispatchers plan routes that minimize empty miles by grouping shipments going to similar locations.
Warehouse management systems can also help companies make better use of their storage space and improve their order-picking processes. This not only helps reduce the number of miles traveled by vehicles but can also lead to fewer returns and damaged goods.
As more and more logistics companies adopt these kinds of digital tools, we can expect to see a corresponding increase in asset utilization and a reduction in wasted resources.
From labels and packing slips to invoices and manifests, there are endless opportunities for paper use in the shipping process. And while some of this documentation is required by law, there’s no reason it can’t be digitized.
Pivoting to digital labels is one good example. These are simply labels that are generated and printed electronically, instead of on paper. This not only eliminates the need for physical labels but can also lead to faster and more accurate labeling.
What’s more, digital labels can be tracked and traced throughout the shipping process, providing visibility into every stage of the journey. This is a valuable feature for both logistics companies and their customers.
Coupled with the use of sustainable packaging, such as recycled materials and biodegradable packing peanuts, a paperless office can help logistics companies make a big dent in their environmental impact.
Modern logistics companies are held responsible for more than just the efficient transportation of goods. They’re also expected to be transparent about the environmental impact of their operations.
This is where digital transformation can be a game-changer.
By digitizing their processes and making data available in real time, logistics companies can provide greater transparency into their operations. This includes everything from emissions data to energy usage and extends to the social and environmental impact of their supply chains.
What’s more, this data can be used to improve planning and make more informed decisions about how to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. This ensures that sustainability is built into the very foundation of the business.
Sustainability is far from a new concept in the business world. But as the effects of climate change become more and more apparent, it’s becoming an increasingly important priority for companies across all industries.
Due to the nature of their operations, logistics companies have a unique opportunity to lead the way in sustainability initiatives. And with the help of digital transformation, they can make significant progress in reducing their environmental impact.
From increased asset utilization to diminished paper use and increased transparency, there are many ways digital transformation can help logistics companies go green. Industry leaders who embrace this change will be well-positioned to reap the rewards of sustainability—not just for their businesses, but for the planet as a whole!