July 31 2013
There are several factors that come into play when business leaders consider improving their supply chain. For the most part these are universal areas that every company will need to deal with, including things like cost, customer experience, efficiency and flexibility. However, there is another trend that is slowly moving its way up the priority list and it is part of a larger movement - going green.
The environmental movement has been gaining momentum in recent years. This can be seen in electric car charging stations in major metropolitan areas, increase recycling programs and the growth of the "natural" and "organic" branding. It may seem like the influence on the supply chain would be seen in cleaner manufacturing practices and efforts to limit waste, and that is definitely a factor in it.
A recent open letter by Jeff Bernicke, the president of NativeEnergy, examined what an environmental approach to the supply chain would look like.
"Over the last few years, supply chain sustainability has emerged as a crucial concern for business leaders," Bernicke wrote. "Significant greenhouse gas emissions, threats to production, and vulnerable supply communities, reside upstream from a business's operations. While quantifying these externalities is still a bumpy road, many organizations are making progress in articulating the value of a sustainable supply chain and navigating supply chain sustainability initiatives."
Bernicke continues to say more companies need to display an environmental and social awareness of how their actions impact the world around them. This can be by upgrading delivery vehicles to lower emissions, tweaking production tactics to lower waste and improve efficiency or looking for new, more environmentally friendly ways to handle nearly every task like new light bulbs.
While all of those methods would help create a new environmentally friendly approach to the supply chain, there is another, far easier plan - companies should consider local options. By partnering with a local delivery and warehousing service, trucks spend less time on the road, thus cutting down on emissions.
If you are a small business in Cleveland that predominantly does business in the Northeast Ohio region for example, does it make more sense to partner with a large courier service that needs to drive well out of their way to pick up and then deliver your package to its final destination or have a local service come only when needed and make deliveries.
Going local has other benefits as well. Businesses are able to save time and money by scheduling specific delivery times with a reliable service that is easily contacted. On top of that, there is the speed at which a local courier can operate as opposed to a national service.
When you use a larger service, a package is sent to a centralized processing facility where it sits until it is redirected to a truck and then sent back out for delivery. This can be a stressful time as businesses wait, not knowing what the status of the parcel is. With a courier service, that issue is non-existent, as they can provide same-day delivery.