Green Is Good

We in the logistics and supply chain management professions have always looked for solutions that increase efficiencies and utilize resources in more sustainable ways. For years, we’ve been striving to reduce empty miles within transportation modes, reduce forklift travel time without product on board in warehouses, eliminate redundancy in our organizations, and figure out innovative ways to keep inventory moving.

By Rick Blasgen

MAYBE WE DIDN’T REFER to these efforts as“green,”but they certainly used fewer resources to get the job done, while making our processes more effi­cient.

Think about the practice of pool dis­tribution: consolidating freight to mini­mize transportation equipment, costs and time, yet still serve our customers’ high expectations. Although this may seem like a brand­new innovation, it’s been a proven distribution strategy for many years.We don’t refer to pooling as green, but perhaps we should. It saves a lot of“green,”so to speak,and has result­ed in a lot less pollution.

Think about our work with our research and development (R&D) pro­fessionals. We explain to them that dur­ing the product creation cycle,it’s impor­tant to consider the material handling supply chain within the distribution sys­tem. Saving a million dollars in packag­ing costs while creating two million dol­lars in damage expenses is not a good thing—for the environment or for the bottom line.

Reducing packaging weight and ship­ping more of the raw product,however,is a good thing, provided the product can withstand the possible hazards of load­ing, transport, unloading, put­away and order selecting. The expert logistician will consider the product packaging, density and other attributes when designing a new item.

Progressive logistics and supply chain managers will be sure to offer the follow­ing suggestions to their product develop­ment colleagues:“Don’t create items that can’t withstand the handling activities within the system”;and“Let me take you to one of our distribution centers and to one of our customers so that you can see first­hand what actually happens to the product you’ve produced.” These first­hand experiences will ensure that the products our companies create are envi­ronmentally friendly.

“Green” has become the fashionable color these days, but SCM practitioners have been working green for decades. Green is, very simply, about implement­ing effective,efficient business practices, which result in a greener environment and a greener bottom line. It benefits your customers, your company, your community and your global partners.

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