Building sustainability into your supply chain logistics | Descartes Routing UK

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Building sustainability into your supply chain logistics

There has never been a more important time to look at implementing sustainability into logistics practices.

The demand for ecommerce and same or next-day delivery has continued to grow exponentially, especially during the recent Corona Virus pandemic. While the logistics industry continues to face more challenges and even tighter margins. From driver shortages to future diesel bans and calls for more sustainable route planning, intelligent technology is the key to unlocking streamlined logistics for delivery companies and reducing costs.

Until recently congestion was found to cost the economy nearly £8bn annually in the UK, and the recent effect of less traffic on the roads has only highlighted how pollution continues to be a concern, with UK levels currently double US base standards, posing a significant health risk to all ages and the cause of 40,000 premature deaths according to a 2016 report. For a country that is focusing on greener practices from waste through to packaging, the last thing retailers want is to have a high pollution fleet servicing their ecommerce customers. Transport operators must do more with existing resources to save costs and improve their footprint, and there is a need to look to innovative and intelligent solutions, such as telematics, route planning and tachograph data, in order to slash this impact before it’s too late.

The benefits don’t have to be solely external as well, by leveraging greater efficiencies transport operators can also improve customer service and experience, and their drivers’ hours compliance. The utilisation of an intelligent routing and scheduling solution that takes advantage of telematics, and is applied throughout the supply chain from the initial collection at the manufacturer’s  warehouse, all the way through to the last mile of the home delivery process, offers the ability to view the supply chain in its entirety, in real time and with up-to-the-minute data. 

By creating end-to-end visibility, and applying a routing and tracking system in this way, a transport operator can transform performance, through improved deployment of resources; ensuring routes are optimised for miles and traffic congestion in conjunction with collection or delivery schedules; as well as allowing for a more dynamic use of third party carriers and subcontractors. 

Pre-booked customer delivery appointments allow for far better management, a reduction in wait times, emissions, failed deliveries and an improvement in customer service as it’s clear exactly when they’ll be available for a collection or delivery. These are all factors an intelligent routing system can take into account to ensure that the route is optimised to the maximum potential for that day. 

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Complete visibility in the Supply Chain

This is a solution that, if utilised throughout the supply chain, can leverage measurable business benefits in a variety of areas for all stakeholders. Combined with real time feedback from telematics systems, transport operators can view vehicle locations anywhere, anytime. This allows for new jobs to be added in real time or corrective action to be implemented to re-route vehicles to avoid any issues with traffic, helping to counter the congestion issue and, in turn, pollution figures. In the process, performance is enhanced, and other costly factors are reduced, such as fuel costs, emissions charges and the necessary vehicle maintenance and servicing required – due to the decreased amount of mileage and time spent on the road.

In these changing times where the  focus will be to maintain lower pollution, reduce waste and create healthier choices for the environment; with consumers making informed choices based on this information, transport operators need to utilise smart technology systems to ensure they are executing the most efficient routes and cutting their impact on the environment. A collaborative routing and scheduling solution bypasses the typical disconnect that exists between disparate parts of the supply chain, and instead leverages measurable business benefits that enable transport operators to meet demands from both retailers and customers, whilst optimising performance and resources, streamlining efficiency, reducing pollution impacts, decreasing costs and providing an improved customer experience.

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-    Andrew Tavener, Head of Marketing, Descartes Systems UK