Sustainable supply chains: this way, logistics works more efficiently and environmentally friendly

Bastian Späth, CEO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Woman in green t-shirt holds green leaf to camera.

Summer, sun, ... vacation time! For many of us, sooner or later, it’s time to go on vacation. One question that inevitably arises in connection with the choice of the vacation destination: How do we get there? Do we take the plane, the car, or perhaps the bicycle or the train? All of this concerns the topic of sustainability. Everyone can and must decide for themselves which factors are important when choosing the type of travel and the vacation destination.

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However, sustainability is not only a major topic in private life: It is also, or perhaps above all, becoming increasingly important in companies. Sustainable action is no longer just a wish that customers and partners are directing at companies, sustainability strategies are also being demanded more and more – not least by legal regulations such as the Supply Chain Act (more information on this can be found in our last blog post). Read here how you can make your supply chain more sustainable and how software can help.

ESG criteria: the three pillars of sustainability

How exactly does one define sustainability? In this case, orientation is provided by the ESG criteria, whose three pillars support the concept of sustainability: environmental protection, social responsibility, and good governance. It is therefore too short-sighted to think of sustainability “only” in terms of the environment in the sense of nature conservation. The key to sustainability is a combination of responsible corporate management, which always keeps the well-being of employees and their fellow human beings in mind, and environmentally friendly technologies. Companies should therefore develop standards that support them in complying with ESG criteria.

What are sustainable supply chains?

“Why don't you describe yourself using three adjectives?” If you were to give this assignment to a sustainable supply chain in an icebreaker game, you might get the following answer: precise, digitalized and collaborative. In our increasingly globalized world, the combination of growing awareness of environmental impact and rising customer expectations has led to sustainability playing a more and more important role. Logistics service providers are thus faced with the challenge of designing their supply chains in such a way that they always keep the company’s environmental, social and economic impact in mind.

Headline: ESG Environmental Social Governance; Subheading: Sustainable Life Chain; Three Aspects: Environmental, Social, Management

Precise logistics: linking processes and delivering with pinpoint accuracy

Precision is the keyword when it comes to efficient supply chain processes. What is meant by this is: acting with pinpoint accuracy and avoiding unnecessary routes – both literally and figuratively. Who hasn’t experienced it: the document needs five different signatures before the shipment is allowed to be delivered; many meetings are staffed twice, although it would be enough if one of the two people were present. These so-called process silos make context-related work massively more difficult and sometimes hinder digital transformation. Functioning feedback loops that inform all process-relevant people in good time and support them in forecasting disruptions are crucial here. After all, sustainable and efficient work is only possible if all processes are carefully interlinked. Innovative software solutions support them in this.

Not only can bureaucratic detours be reduced in this way, but precision also has an enormous influence on the actual route a shipment takes. Planning is the key here and builds on good communication and transparent and consistent data utilization. With specialized software such as Track and Trace, Map and ETA and structured Time Slot Management, which also facilitates yard management, route planning is optimized and all logistical follow-up processes on the way of the goods to their destination can be initiated in good time.

Digitalized logistics: sustainable and efficient – no more paperwork!

It is not news that digitalization can achieve great things, especially in logistics. However, it not only has the pleasant effect of organizing processes and procedures within the supply chain more efficiently while using less paper (which of course also contributes to sustainability): Real-time access to transport-relevant data by all parties involved means that decisions are made in context. This way, it is possible to react as flexibly as possible to actual circumstances should they ever deviate from the forecasts.

Talking about forecasts: AI-supported data makes it possible to create meaningful forecasts on expected capacity utilization, the best times and routes, etc. This makes daily operations much easier to plan. Optimized load, route, and schedule planning minimizes transport costs and simultaneously ensures an improved eco-balance.

Collaborative logistics: sustainability can only be achieved as a team

For the supply chain, which includes so many different partners and processes, to be sustainable, everyone must pull together and be connected. Only when real-time data on transport times, stock levels, the status of a delivery or other important information is available to all parties involved can follow-up processes be planned efficiently. Transparency in communication with all parties involved ultimately ensures improved coordination processes so that a complete and punctual delivery can be made – unnecessary transport routes are thus avoided, and the supply chain becomes a bit more sustainable. A data integration module is essential for networking with all partners and their systems.

In these areas, software optimizes your supply chain in a very tangible way, providing increased efficiency and improved sustainability.

  • Efficient route planning: Considering factors such as traffic situation, road conditions, and customer priorities, the software determines the optimal route for transports. Empty runs are thus minimized, and fuel consumption is reduced at the same time.
  • Optimized warehousing: Software solutions such as a Warehouse Management tool help manage inventories and enable precise demand planning. In addition, the software optimizes item placement to ensure short distances and fast access to goods. This not only saves time and costs, but also reduces energy consumption and waste.
  • Improved transparency: Using software allows you to capture and manage all relevant data in real time. You get a clear overview of the status of shipments, stock levels, transport times and other important information. This transparency enables you to identify bottlenecks and take proactive measures to avoid disruptions.
  • More reliable forecasts: Meaningful analyses are the be-all and end-all for reliable forecasts. Tracking and telematics, real-time data collection and the like provide the data needed for AI-supported forecasting.


Sustainable supply chains: providing today for tomorrow

The sustainable design of supply chains is becoming more and more of a priority for logistics service providers. Those who invest in a sustainable supply chain and develop strategies to comply with ESG criteria benefit in several ways. On the one hand, from a purely ecological point of view, it is sustainable if routes are optimized – this avoids empty runs and saves resources because each individual step is designed as efficiently as possible. On the other hand, it also ensures the future viability of a supply chain, i.e., sustainability in the economic sense. Anyone who ensures that processes are as lean and digital as possible today is setting their company up for the future and regularly checks whether ingrained processes are still up to date or could perhaps be simplified by modernization. Not to be forgotten here are the employees, whose day-to-day work can be made much easier by software. This way, you always keep the social factors in mind.

Software solutions offer an effective way to achieve the goal of a sustainable supply chain: Through efficient route planning, intelligent yard management, transparent communication, optimized warehousing, and tracking technologies, you can reduce costs and increase efficiency while reducing your environmental footprint. Implementing a sustainable supply chain not only gives you the opportunity to act in a more environmentally friendly way, but also to gain a competitive advantage and win the trust and loyalty of your customers.

Bastian Späth
Bastian Späth

As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.

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