Sustainable warehouse logistics, more important than ever

There is no doubt the biggest challenge in logistics, both transports and warehouse logistics is the transformation to be sustainable. Adapting to new regulations (you can be certain there will be more and stronger regulations) and customer’s new demands for sustainable alternatives.

If you want success regarding logistics you need to adapt to the new conditions. Because customers are much more aware about environment and climate. And according to a report from Sweden’s biggest logistics company PostNord, three out of four consumers make conscious choices when shopping online. But how often can consumers make active greener choices in e-commerce right now? This will be a competitive advantage for e-commerce companies that are responsive and environmentally aware

Customers’ demands more and more transparency in value chain and as you already know the customer always have right. This aspect is in my opinion the most important one why you need to be an early adopter in greener technology. It is important what values your company brand stands for. Environmental awareness will be much more important for e-commerce companies and they need to have transparent and trustworthy KPI’s regarding energy consumption through the value chain and carbon footprint.

Customer’s aspect is one thing. We also have energy prices regarding electricity, gas and/or oil for example. One thing is sure; we will not see lower prices. I have many times written about how logistics like transport and warehouse is an important margin enhancer in particular for e-commerce. Energy consumption will be more important in this aspect. With technology that is more intelligent, you can lower your warehouse facilities operating costs significantly.

Much technology for intelligent management of facilities already exists and is often used in places with cold climate and expensive electricity. The same applies to the warehouse building techniques. In places with cold climate, they already build with a lot of insulation to keep the warmth inside. However, we will also see these buildings in warmer climates too in order to keep the warmth outside and the cold inside. These buildings are more expensive but you have a payoff in less energy consumption.

In warehouse operations, we will certainly see more automation. It would not surprise me if we will see more volume efficient solutions in order to save costs in the size of facilities, lighting, cooling or heating for example. This will decrease the environmental footprints significantly and energy consumption. Many robotics solutions that you can implement in a standard warehouse is trending right now with low investment costs. But the disadvantage is that they are not volume efficient and often works as cobots with humans beside and you still need the heating/cooling and lighting. Volume efficient automation solutions such as cranes, shuttles or AutoStore you can build in dark boxes with separate picking stations for humans.

Most forklift brands have fleet management technology where you can see and analyze transports and efficiency regarding energy consumption and how long the forklifts have been driving in a shift. You can also choose to charge when you have low tariffs in the night. It can also pay to look at lithium batteries when you have intensive driving for extended periods.

Some WMS vendors also have technology that helps save energy consumption and also packaging materials. In some WMS you have features to optimize picking routes for shorter and faster transports with forklifts. Also advanced calculations with the use of goods master data regarding volume and weight and in that way can advice the most volume efficient packing materials. That is only two examples but there is more if you start to look.

Finally, it surprises me when I look at a professional network like LinkedIn for example how many people confidently jokes about the climate change and clearly states that it is a non-issue. As an employer, I would be deeply worried about having such employees in my organization. As I wrote earlier it does not matter if you believe in it or not. The people or rather the customers have already decided and they want to buy climate smart. That is what you need to believe in.

Roberth Karlsson

I have also written about transports and climate. See link below:

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