Andrej Nikolow also has plenty of stories to tell about the balancing act between cost pressure and the need to reduce emissions. Nikolow is responsible for compiling data on inbound and outbound logistics processes, which is then used in life cycle assessment calculations. This data relates to the emissions produced on the one hand by the supply of required goods and on the other by sales activities and deliveries to distribution centers. Nikolow uses numerous systems in order to get Henßler the data he needs. The procedures here are highly complex, as each mode of transport (e.g. plane, train, truck, or ship) requires the use of a different approach for calculating the emissions. At the same time, increasing digitalization in the logistics chains and the development of new system applications will make such calculations easier to perform in the future. The associated projects are therefore important to both the numbers guy, Henßler, and the planner, Nikolow.
When asked what the key is to achieving the greatest possible degree of sustainability in logistics chains, Nikolow immediately replies: “It’s transport — the shorter the transport distances, the better the life cycle assessment. That’s because shorter transports not only reduce CO₂ emissions; they also conserve resources.” If a specific transport operation is unavoidable, an optimal route and the best mode of transport must be selected. “Efficiency is the key with both variables — in terms of costs and CO₂ emissions,” Nikolow explains. Ocean transport has proved to be a good option with regard to both variables over the last few years: “Ships now travel more slowly and at constant speeds, which lowers both fuel costs and CO₂ emissions.” Since the beginning of this year, all inbound rail transports in Germany and Austria have been powered by electricity generated from renewable energy sources. According to Nikolow, it’s not a few major changes but rather the combination of many smaller projects that minimize the ecological footprint in logistics operations — a fact that experience has shown to be true.
Sebastian Bühler, who works as a technical production planning specialist for energy conservation and CO₂ reductions, says that Daimler’s commitment to environmentally friendly logistics operations demonstrates that the company is serious about utilizing an integrated approach to sustainability issues. Bühler is a member of the GreenProduction team, which is a corporate unit that works on transforming production systems in order to make them more sustainable. In addition to conducting his planning work, Bühler is involved in Green Lab Decarbonization and also heads a Daimler photovoltaic project group. “I’ve been promoting the use of renewable energy since I was 16 — there was never any question about this for me,” he says.