Greening freight

Oct 2019—Some companies ship their products, but we all buy stuff and move people around. So these three strategies can help all businesses be more efficient.

Focus on fuel efficiency—Think about passenger miles per gallon. Carpool if you can. If your company has a fleet, don’t assign individuals their vehicles; if one person is traveling, put them in a Prius instead of the Ford Expedition. If your company owns trucks, institute a no-idling policy, purchase the most efficient models you can afford, keep them maintained, and investigate aerodynamic add-ons.

Walmart, the company most well-known for using its huge scale to slash costs, doubled the fuel efficiency of its 6,500 semi-truck fleet in 2015, and saved $1 billion in fuel costs. Since 2015, Walmart has improved truck fuel efficiency by 11 percent more, saved $140 million and avoided releasing 87,000 more metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. 

Plan ahead so you can ship slowly—FedEx’s old tag line, “when you absolutely, positively need it tomorrow,” is often a sign of sloppy work practices, waiting till the last minute. Shipping by ship or rail is far more efficient than air freight, and a lot less expensive. When you shop on Amazon, take the credit and choose the slower option. And think about the last mile. In urban areas, there are bike delivery services. Shipping small items through the Postal Service often means the product will be delivered as part of the normal route, not a special delivery. But all of that is probably more efficient than you driving 20 miles to a big box store.

Optimize the route—Whether you’re running errands or managing a fleet of trucks, logistics is key. In the summer here, we literally have neighbors all driving separately to Hauser Farm to get corn on the same day. Are you headed to Trader Joe’s? Ask family and neighbors if you can pick up something for them. If you manage a fleet of trucks, then use software to plan the route. But sometimes the answer is a head-slapper; why didn’t we think of that before? Years ago, UPS saved millions of dollars by eliminating left turns.

Regarding software,

Anheuser-Busch's De Ryck says the beer maker has worked with software companies such as Uber, TransfixConvoy and SmartHop to optimize the most efficient routes, but also to make sure that trucks aren't running routes empty or underfilled.

Darcy HitchcockFreight