Sustainable logistics: The resource-saving use at all levels
Optimally coordinated logistics processes are the prerequisite for high-performance companies and organizational units. Sustainable logistics affects the exchange of goods and commodities, but also of information. The problem is that logistics as such is not very ecological, accounting for around 20 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the EU. And the arrow continues to trend upward.
But what characterizes sustainable logistics?
Which facets, forms and factors are relevant here in order to design logistics according to sustainability criteria in the future?
proLogistik approaches this topic from several perspectives and shows which adjustments can be made.
Focus on intralogistics: Sustainable logistics has a multifactorial character
The individual company, which, for example, ships goods between individual countries or continents, has only limited influence on the framework conditions. The situation is different on a smaller scale, meaning internal logistics. First, however, it is important to understand that sustainable logistics is not a one-way street - environmental protection and cost savings go hand in hand here, and investments pay off accordingly quickly.
In the following, we name selected aspects as examples to better illustrate the facets of sustainable logistics:
- Use of modern lighting technology leads to up to 90 percent reduction in consumption (especially LED = longer durability, lower consumption).
- Modern storage systems and picking methods increase the throughput frequency, reduce the error rate and thus also make themselves felt economically.
- Storage areas can be logically divided depending on the frequency of use of individual subareas and equipped with motion detectors to reduce energy consumption.
As you can see: Even small, intelligent adjustments can achieve a significant savings effect without any conversion measures or extensions. Sustainably conceived logistics is not only organizational, but of course also technical. More about this in the next paragraph.
Technical aids: Warehouse management software as the basis for sustainable logistics
The detailed knowledge of goods and merchandise within the warehouse is essential in order to be able to carry out optimizations. But often this is still characterized by old-fashioned, less efficient and error-prone picking methods. Not infrequently attributed to a constant adaptation of intralogistics that takes into account demand - but not once planned and thought out from the ground up. However, the effect that such measures can have on the sustainability of logistics is illustrated by a look at the advantages of modern warehouse management software:
- Digital inventory management creates planning security and reduces administrative effort.
- Paperless picking, for example via pick-by-voice, enables hands-free work, reduces the error rate and speeds up merchandise planning.
- Stock levels displayed in real time enable better utilization and planning, and shortages are also reduced.
- Interlocking processes and workflows ensure better throughput times with higher quality assurance at the same time.
Sustainable logistics based on high-performance warehouse management software (WMS) helps you identify weak points, increase transparency and plan more flexibly overall. All goods movements are mapped via the system, and lengthy and cost-intensive processes are a thing of the past. This reduces empty runs and downtimes, optimizes routes and intelligently controls the need for replenishment.
Changes in warehouse set-up: reduce energy consumption in just a few steps
The more fragmented individual aspects of a warehouse are, the more likely it is that practical operational problems will arise. This starts with unspecific information, continues with a lack of transparency, and extends to significantly increased costs as a result of low productivity. Sustainable logistics is holistically conceived and realized.
There are some measures that are relatively easy to implement and involve savings:
- Intelligent load monitoring
- Warehouse management based on stand-by operation
- Construction of storage areas in the lightweight construction
Sustainable logistics: Saving costs by using modern cooling and heating technology
Not only do ecological measures as part of sustainable logistics pay for themselves relatively quickly, they are also often made more easily accessible through government support measures or grants. A classic area for which companies can also apply for subsidies is the heating and cooling system. This makes it possible to manage energy-intensive warehouses, such as those in the food industry, much more cost-effectively.
Examples of sustainable logistics in this area:
- Expansion of plant and warehouse roofs with high-performance solar modules whose energy can be fed into operations or used financially in the form of government-guaranteed purchases.
- Integration of heating systems based on geothermal energy (geothermal heat), which are characterized by a high base load energy as well as an efficiency of nearly 100 percent.
- Investments in building insulation (thermal insulation)
- Integration of underfloor heating, which requires significantly less energy than classic heating systems
- Spatial division of the areas by so-called air walls (climate zone separation)
In short, sustainable logistics involves many individual factors that add up to an immense effect. Through optimized processes, lower costs and higher efficiency, companies secure decisive competitive advantages.