Sustainable Transport Logistics Are we green yet?

Sustainability and logistics. Two key concepts for the economy that have a lot in common. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, logistics is responsible for more than five percent of worldwide CO₂ emissions.

Logistics can be a central control lever for more energy efficiency: fuel consumption is reduced by tires with lower rolling resistance or route optimizations. Other optimization areas can be found in the logistics centers - and include energy-efficient lighting, air conditioning, and heating systems. In addition, digital connectivity yields new solutions for logistics strategy and planning. When trucks are interconnected the data of their loads is also connected with the fleet, as well as with the start and destination points. Therefore, goods can be transported in a significantly more cost- and energy efficient manner. The truck driver can book additional goods on the return trip and pick up additional material on the way. This creates a state of maximum capacity utilization, reduced empty and redundant trips, and lowers CO₂ emissions. Modern telematics-aided internet services show how connectivity facilitates cost savings, reduction of environmental pollution, and greater transparency of deliveries.

Driven by sustainability

The choice of logistics concepts is made at the Daimler AG depending on the costs, the contractual terms, the transport quality, and the CO₂ emissions. In this context, increased use is made of multi-modal concepts in consideration of the respectively optimal transport carrier. One example of this is the shifting of complete vehicle shipments to the railways. In addition, the existing transport networks are tested on an ongoing basis. Thus, for example, with the selection of the Slovenian Mediterranean port of Koper for the shipment of vehicles to Asia, Daimler was able to substantially shorten the transport routes by as much as 8,000 km compared to the previously used concept. Other sustainability criteria extend from environmental certificates to the use of eco-friendly equipment and low-emission trucks in accordance with the latest Euro standard. With proprietary concepts such as the cross-plant use of load carriers, the company is also taking additional measures aimed at sustainability. In order to optimize return transport runs, 17 European Daimler plants and five regional logistics centers have formed a network and have established an IT-supported load carrier management system. Compared to the opening status, in 2015 alone, it was possible to avoid 2,200 tons of CO₂ emissions and to significantly reduce freight costs.

More than green logistics

However, sustainability in the logistics industry is far more than “green logistics” or environmental standards. Business ethics, human rights, and working conditions are topics of equal importance. They are at the basis of every business relationship between Daimler and its suppliers and service providers worldwide. Daimler reviews the compliance maintained with these sustainability standards in a multi-step process. This enables early identification of compliance and sustainability risks. Daimler reviews new providers before the contracts are drawn up: In risk countries, the auditors on site ask targeted questions concerning the compliance with sustainability standards. Where necessary, more extensive reviews are also carried out. In cases of suspected or actual violations by a supplier, Daimler follows an established escalation process that can extend to the termination of a business relationship. One important approach to meeting the sustainability requirements in supply chains with many branches is dialog and qualification. That is why Daimler assigns great importance to engaging in active dialog with suppliers. For example, in the framework of supplier events and stakeholder dialogs. Daimler obligates its suppliers to also communicate the sustainability standards to their employees and to pass them on to business partners.

Sixty million in the future

Daimler combines logistics and sustainability at its locations: For example with €60 million of investments and the job protection agreement at the Germersheim location. The Mercedes-Benz Global Logistics Center is the biggest warehouse for automotive spare parts in the world. Collateral with the job protection provisions, measures were also agreed for more flexible management of human resources and the use of temporary employees with prospects of being taken over permanently. In addition, 100 temporary employees were given permanent contracts. This has resulted in the creation of a future-proof package of measures. Daimler also lives sustainability in the Neu-Ulm location. The local logistics center EvoBus GmbH was designated as the first sustainable industrial location in Germany: following an intensive examination phase, the German society for sustainable construction, “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen,” awarded it with a certificate in silver. It was the first time this certificate has been awarded to an industrial location. Neu-Ulm convinced - among others - with energy efficient lighting and attractive employee areas in the building, as well as with local plants and wildflower meadows on the plant grounds.

Cooperation bears fruit

Daimler is developing instruments for the mitigation of sustainability risks together with experts of other manufacturers. For example, an industry-wide questionnaire was developed. With it, suppliers can provide information about their sustainability performance. The questionnaire includes questions on topics ranging from social and ecological sustainability over compliance and the communication of sustainability requirements to sub-suppliers.

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