While the topic of greening supply chains has been a hot topic for several years, many companies involved in shipping and freight forwarding in todays dynamic global economy are still overlooking many obvious and cost-efficient methods to reduce the industrys carbon footprint, says Melinda Elmowy, Vice President Global Marketing for CargoWise edi, a leading provider of integrated international supply chain logistics management systems.
Elmowy points to a recent Eye for Transport report that surveyed more than 250 North American supply chain executives to determine their views on greening. Nine percent of those questioned identified green issues as their No.1 priority over the next three years, while nearly 70% said green issues would become more important to their processes over that time. The survey found greening to be fundamentally a co-operative process, with most of the successful programs based on changing relationships with suppliers, partners and logistics providers. Indeed, 28% of respondents said they currently collaborate, or plan to collaborate, with their logistics partners to help green their supply chain processes.
With the new technologies available to logistics providers today, there are few disciplines that lend themselves to the greening of the environment as effectively as transportation and logistics, says Elmowy. Shipping and distribution services account for three-fourths of a companys carbon footprint, the measurement of the impact human activities have on the environment as determined by the amount of carbon dioxide produced by greenhouse gas emissions. There is no reason the logistics industry cant do more to solve this problem.
CargoWise edi has been facilitating customers green initiatives for years, and in 2004 the Company released its ediEnterprise integrated software system that provides a paperless approach to forwarders supply chain operations, reducing their paper trails and facilitating the push to a paper free office. Elmowy is quick to point out that when discussing carbon-neutral initiatives companies can implement to help green supply chains, she is not just talking about reducing fuel emissions.
Many of the cradle-to-grave initiatives companies can institute for a greener environment simply involve eliminating waste while improving productivity, she argues. In the air cargo industry alone, we could fill about 40 Boeing 747 freightliners each year with paper wasted on documentation, not to mention the labor hours necessary to produce and handle it all. Yet, we continue to see companies that are not taking advantage of the available automation that would save both the environment and logistics costs. The paperless office has not arrived; but it is possible.
Elmowy suggests five critical areas that would enable companies to automate documentation to green the global supply chain while creating greater efficiencies and reducing overall operational costs.
- Automate Documentation to Reduce Your Paper Trail. Too many companies still use paper documentation, which not only creates waste, but places limitations on the work process by placing it in the hands of whichever employee holds the paper copies, says Elmowy. By switching to a quick and easy electronic system, all necessary process documentation is always available to any staff member who requires access to the files via a simple user interface. Electronic documentation also vastly reduces the amount of unnecessary paperwork throughout the supply chain process.
- Create a Centralized Repository for Documentation. Regardless of your documentation process, establishing an automated, centralized database repository for all job, client, sales and staff related documents in an electronic format will significantly increase efficiency and productivity, while facilitating the push toward a paperless office environment. The storage and centralization of documents gives staff the ability to access the central database electronically to update, send and store documents such as bills of lading, commercial invoices, packing lists and other pertinent data as it moves through the automated company documentation process.
- Integrate Your Route Optimization and Consolidation Process. The key to creating a greener supply chain lies in the exchange of all documentation between you and your customers via an integrated electronic data management system that permits automatic access to files as they travel through the supply chain. These documents can be automatically attached with email invoices, scanned directly into files, automatically allocated by type and reference via barcode dividers and accessed by all trading partners via your Web site. The ediEnterprise system effectively supports a forwarders route optimization and consolidation processes, which means less carbon dioxide is generated for a reduced carbon footprint.
- Create an Automated Storage and Archive System. It is important to create a central storage and archive system for electronic documents that can accessed by your staff and customers at any time for reference. Maintaining files in an automated archive vastly reduces the amount of paperwork involved in supply chain management process over a long period of time, reduces the need for filing cabinets and frees up important floor space. A documentation module such as that found in CargoWise ediEnterprise will enable you to document your electronic files, as well as store them for future access.
- Improve ROI by Greening Supply Chain Activities. Greening your supply chain can be accomplished with a minimum of capital investment and can improve the ROI of your customers, vendors and company. New e-documentation technology makes your forwarding operation more efficient in many ways, creating fewer costs with a greater impact on the greening of the supply chain.
Automating a robust integrated documentation and storage process with the new technologies available just makes sense if we are to create a more paperless environment and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases associated with global supply chain process, summarizes Elmowy. Not only will an integrated and automated e-documentation system increase productivity and help eliminate many of the environmental problems we have throughout global supply chains; but it will cost less to accomplish now before new governmental regulations come into play.
ABOUT CARGOWISE EDI
CargoWise edi provides solutions for forwarders, customs brokers and logistics service providers focused on supply chain execution capability in an integrated ERP-like globally capable system. It is a world-leading provider of low-cost, high-value software solutions and services for the freight forwarding, NVOCC, express courier, customs brokerage, contract warehouse, container freight station, ships agency, local cartage and other supply chain services.
Every day, 1,300 logistics service providers, consisting of 33,000 users in 45 countries, move goods through the global supply chain using CargoWise edi's flagship product ediEnterprise. CargoWise edi offers supply chain logistics management systems that provide full integration across all departments and functionality for domestic, regional and global customers. Headquartered in the U.S., Australia and now in the UK, the Company operates from 12 worldwide offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia.