Digital transformation: The transport and logistics industry’s hidden sustainability hero

How are logistics companies managing the balance between profitable operation and sustainable business? And how are they treating sustainability as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition?

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Digital transformation: The transport and logistics industry’s hidden sustainability hero

China commits to net-zero emissions by 2060. The United Nations announce global Sustainable Development Goals. Businesses across the world are urged to take responsibility for their own waste.

No matter where we live, or what sector we work in, sustainability is a hot topic for all of us. Changing regulations are affecting businesses across the world. And companies in the transport and logistics sector are no exception.

Sustainability in the global supply chain has been, and continues to be, the main talking point for many of the industry’s most prestigious events, such as Multimodal and Freight in the City. So how are companies managing the balance between profitable operation and sustainable business? How are businesses streamlining their digital processes to become more efficient? And how are they treating sustainability as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition?

‘Uber-ised’ freight is lightening the environmental load

A significant opportunity for the freight and logistics industry is its ‘Uber-isation’: the rise of on-demand ‘hail-and-haul’ logistics. Often performed through bids offered via an app – and in fact, Uber Freight itself launched in the US in 2017 – these services offer businesses the opportunity to pitch their services for available freight loads.

While this model can put price pressure on businesses who aren’t able to adapt, it can also promote healthy competition and increased work opportunities. But why is this model good for sustainability?

Simply, when a driver is on the return journey from their original drop, there may be an opportunity for them to take on a local return load heading in the same direction. That’s one less truck on the road making an additional journey. Alternatively, if several smaller loads are picked up and consolidated into one shipment, the impact becomes even more significant.

Not only is this excellent for business flexibility as the sharing economy grows, it’s a step to businesses reducing their carbon emissions too.

Smart planning for sustainable operations

It isn’t just the return journey where emissions savings can be made. Another way organisations are lowering their environmental impact is through the use of AI-powered route-planning technology to find the best route for their shipment.

AI-powered software can analyse vehicle load capacity data to create efficient load building, define optimum journey routes and predict and allocate resource to in-demand areas. All this leads to a more streamlined service, with less wasted miles – and fuel – and improved resource scheduling which can save OPEX.

The best feature of this technology is it’s something many of us use in our day-to-day lives, via mapping applications on our smartphones. And that means it doesn’t have to be complicated – or expensive.

Even at a basic level, a driver can use smart GPS systems to choose a route which will avoid traffic, or shave miles off their journey. Not only is this a time saving measure for the business, it’s a saving of emissions too – and a potentially significant one, as Accenture estimated digital transformation like this could lower the logistics industry’s toxic emissions by as much as 3.6 billion metric tons by 20252.

Robust IT built for the long haul

From on-the-go communications, to data capture, data sharing and location-tracking, having mobile technology which can handle the load is crucial.

Last-mile logistics teams often need a device which can offer handheld data capture. Long-haul drivers may choose a solution which offers the best connectivity, so they can keep in touch with their teams and receive regular updates, while warehouse workers may benefit from a device which can handle accidental drops and impacts, while offering a handheld-scanning facility.

The needs of different teams throughout the supply chain might change, but overall demand is for the same qualities: durability, connected capability and adaptability.

European logistics company, Raben Group, chose the TOUGHBOOK N1 for its drivers across 11 European countries. The TOUGHBOOK N1 is a rugged handheld device which combines the functions of a tablet, phone and a barcode reader. Its high efficiency, compact size, durability, accurate GPS and ergonomically designed barcode scanner immediately improved Raben’s real-time data sharing and communication capabilities.

Discover the TOUGHBOOK N1

Raben Group issued 5,500 devices to its employees. Naturally, a significant consideration is the TOUGHBOOK devices’ durability. The TOUGHBOOK N1 is physically robust with a 5-year warranty, for complete peace of mind. Plus, it’s compatible with Mobile Device Management, taking even more pressure away from overstretched IT and Ops managers.

The bottom line: longer-lasting technology means less waste, and lower TCO – and that means it’s sustainable for your business too.

Read the Raben case study

Building a sustainability plan pays for itself

Sustainability is more than an ethical consideration. It has a critical economic impact as well. Not only does research show Millennials and Gen-Z employees are more likely to join – and stay – with businesses who have sustainability programmes3, but there are studies which suggest it can lead to a happier and healthier workforce too.

But becoming more sustainable doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of your business model.

It can be as simple as your drivers choosing the route smart technology offers to them after analysing road and weather conditions, or as complex as machine learning augmented robotics in your warehouses.

Discover TOUGHBOOK solutions for transport and logistics.

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