Sustainability is gaining more and more attention in supply chain and logistics. Many consumers already take action in their own homes, preferring sustainable options rather than harming the environment. This is a deliberate choice because the more sustainable option often used to be more expensive. In the business-to-business market, an increasing number of companies are choosing sustainable options, however, there is still room for improvement.
For most people, the environmental aspect is the first thing that comes to their mind when sustainability is mentioned although looking at it from a business perspective, it is a much broader subject.
I believe that people make a difference within their companies. This is why we put so much effort into enabling our people to be successful. We create an environment in which they feel free to share their ideas, use their creativity and develop an entrepreneurial spirit. We continuously improve our operations and do so by a bottom-up approach. Our people usually know best what happens in our processes and on our customers’ side, so we listen carefully to what they say. Some of the best ideas for improvements and new services have come from the shop floor. Multidisciplinary teams working together to launch and implement these new initiatives, leveraging knowledge and experience from different departments.
One of my favourite employee initiatives was the hiring of a health coach. For staff that joined the program, the coach would determine their current health and fitness level and advise them on training and their diet to improve their overall health. The coach also looked into the ergonomic setup of desks and workstations.
Another people-related item I would like to mention here is that we care deeply for diversity. It does not matter what your gender is, or if you have a disability, wherever you come from, whatever your religion is, or who you love. We accept everyone. We strive to employ a diverse workforce, so we also support local initiatives to help people with poor job prospects. They have proven to be a valuable addition to our operations because, in the end, the world of our customers is also diverse.
When we look at the environmental aspect of sustainability, I see two parts. One is internal: how can we improve our carbon footprint, the other one is external: how can we work with our customers to improve their carbon footprint.
Looking at our role, we try to minimize our carbon footprint by sorting waste and minimizing the use of paper. We replaced plastic cups with glass ones, installed LED lighting in our warehouses, use lithium-ion batteries in our material handling equipment, just to mention a few.
As for me Corporate Social Responsibility also relates to the planet. CSR initiatives often focus on the world directly surrounding our locations. Many of these are started by our employees. Examples are World Cleanup Day, in which we participated across different locations around the world. Other local initiatives include sailing the Charity Regatta Race for children in need suffering from cancer, encouraging blood donation to save lives or our staff painting and redecorating an orphan house.
For the external part, we believe in enabling our customers to lower their carbon footprint. We work closely together to look for more sustainable solutions for their supply chain challenges. Sustainable solutions are not always the cheapest option, so we are happy to see that many customers join us in the effort to reduce the carbon footprint in supply chains. There are many opportunities. We support our customers with sustainability projects ranging from redesigning their supply chain to optimizing routes to helping them shift their transportation needs towards more sustainable modes of transport. Our in-house data analytics team is a key differentiator in many of these projects.
Companies need to make a profit, of course. We help many customers to raise their profit margins by increasing the efficiency of their supply chain and logistics flows. We have developed route optimization algorithms to improve efficiency, increase the truck loading factor, decrease empty trips and save cost. In order to have a clear picture of their supply chain operations’ carbon footprint, we have developed a CO2 calculator. By examining this data, we can start working on scenarios for reduction, enabling our customers to make the right decisions based on accurate data and the correct analysis.
We strongly believe that in the long run, choosing the sustainable option will increase profitability.
There is no Planet B
We only have one planet, and we need to take good care of it. There is no Planet B. But there is a profitable and sustainable Plan B. Let us help you find how to reduce the carbon footprint of your supply chain and increase your profitability. Contact one of our experts or contact me directly through LinkedIn. I will be happy to tell you more about what we are doing and how we can support you.
Stefan van Doorslaer is Group CEO of Ahlers. Ahlers provides state-of-the-art logistics support in sustainable supply chain management, warehousing, projects & machinery logistics, secured transport, trade logistics, after-sales services, and data analytics. Their extensive experience and knowledge of local markets make Ahlers your ideal partner for business in China, Russia or the CIS countries.
This blogpost is sponsored by Ahlers