How to Achieve a Greener Final Mile

This article originally published on eTracFinalMile.com.

Is Going Green on your 2020 to-do list? Less than 20% of Supply Chain Managers say they have a plan in place to hit their company sustainability goals.

Final mile typically consumes 28% of your transportation budget, making it one of the most expensive and wasteful parts of your supply chain. It also makes it the ideal place to start looking for more sustainable methods.

How do you turn that around and build a greener final mile?

Improve Dispatching & Carrier Technology

Cutting down on inefficient miles spent by final mile carriers is the first place to look when going green.

Many carrier companies are still operating without operational systems. When joining the eTrac Carrier Partner Program, 22% of carriers reported having no operating system at all. These carriers typically operate with pen and paper, or even a spreadsheet.

As good as many of these carriers are at manually dispatching orders, sometimes there is no replacement for artificial intelligence and a sound dispatching system.

Reduce wasteful carbon emissions by ensuring your carriers use a dispatching system to help them find the shortest or fastest route to make deliveries. This will also provide you the ability to see where your packages are at all times.

Of course, if your carrier has a system in place, you shouldn’t force them to add a secondary one or a portal to provide you visibility. Portals can cause delays in information and operational disruptions for your carriers—and be counterproductive to your sustainability goals. If they already have a system, you should integrate directly into their system to see what you need.

Strengthen Carrier Compliance

Mistakes are naturally inefficient and waste resources. Damaged items end up in landfills. Items delivered too late or incorrectly are returned. Lost items must be replaced. All of these are huge wasters of money, time and fuel.

In the final mile, tools like driver mobile applications, carrier dispatching systems, and dashboards paint the clearest picture of your final mile carbon footprint and how much you’ll need to offset.

Taking strides to improve carrier compliance can not only improve your bottom line, but also cut down on your environmental impact.

Start by working with your carriers to agree on a set of standards to abide by; define each service level, so you and your partners know what the expectations are for completing an order. As you establish these standards, keep your carriers’ views in mind, to ensure you’re able to assist your carrier in meeting those standards.

As these carriers are typically positioned for the final mile’s unique ways, many carriers can help show you the most efficient practices without sacrificing your customers’ experience.

After standards have been established, analyze carrier performance regularly to make sure standards are being met. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to help determine compliance and waste levels.

KPIs to Watch Include:

• Damaged goods.
• On-time/late deliveries.
• Lost package information (was the package marked “delivered” in the same location it was supposed to be delivered?).

This information should be accessible in real-time and reviewed regularly. Many successful 3PLs review performance on a weekly basis, as well as quarterly and annually. Trends should be identified and addressed as needed.

For operational efficiency, consider compiling the aggregated information into a dashboard for easy viewing.

Know Your Numbers

In addition to cutting emissions and waste, your company can also achieve a more sustainable supply by offsetting your carbon footprint. In order to offset, though, you must know how much is produced, especially in the expensive final mile.

Visibility is key to knowing your numbers and improving your environmental impact. Achieve this visibility by integrating technology platforms with all members of your supply chain—from 3PL through the final mile.

In the final mile, tools like driver mobile applications, carrier dispatching systems, and dashboards paint the clearest picture of your final mile carbon footprint and how much you’ll need to offset.

To understand how much your company will need to offset, look at data such as:

• How many miles were spent on deliveries and attempted deliveries?
• What was done with drayage? (Are the items recyclable?)
• What were fuel emissions when picking up returns?

Offsetting your carbon footprint typically entails enlisting methods that soak up CO2. This can be done internally by your company or through a third party you’ve hired. Whatever route you decide to go through, you can utilize one or more offsetting methods that suit your company. Some of these methods include:

• Planting trees.
• Funding projects to reduce the methane released by landfills.
• Providing or funding energy-efficient appliances in low-income areas.

The effectiveness of absorbing CO2 varies with each method, but that information is widely available on the internet.

The Key to Going Green in the Final Mile

Whether you’re entering the final mile for the first time or looking to evolve your existing supply chain, find a partner with the tools and resources you need to achieve a greener final mile.

Using their tools to help you visualize your data, enforce carrier compliance, and seamlessly integrate your supply chain partners, you and your partner will build a greener final mile together.      

Image credit: Franck Boston/Shutterstock.com