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Supply Chain: Cutting Costs, Cutting Carbon

By: Sum-Sum Chan
Posted: January 9, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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To keep emissions in check, introduce an additional set of data that measures carriers’ sustainable characteristics. These could include smaller details such as idling system adjustments, speed policies, running on solar energy at rest, alternative fuel usage, and so forth. A more uniform measurement would be, for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smartway certification, an independent agency award that tracks carriers’ promises for sustainable improvements through a multi-year period (www.epa.gov/smartway offers information about individual requirements).

When you cross-reference your carrier performance scoring with your sustainable scoring, you’ll easily identify carriers that meet your performance standards, budget and eco goals. This matrix will be especially useful when you need a full solution provider, one possessing a combination of warehousing and transportation, and evaluating past services is the perfect way to start your research.

Finding Full Solution Providers

Many midsize companies leave the supply chain planning to the “warehouse guy” or the “shipping person.” This thinking forces a company to react to spikes in demand instead of acting off business needs.

Tethering revenue to consumer buying leaves your bottom line vulnerable. Proper logistics planning should involve executives across multiple departments—including sales, product development, customer service, shipping and accounting. Your unique needs, when communicated accurately to the provider in consideration of your business, will only be met with cross-departmental integrations. For example, the logistics manager might not know that customer service is overwhelmed with creating shipping status reports for retailers. Providers that create automated reports or even allow third-party portal access might alleviate financial or labor strains.

The next step is evaluating current capabilities and measuring them against anticipated growth and future needs. If you are currently shipping parcel and full pallets, plan for a provider that could also handle your foray into mixed pallets, labeling, display building, and pick and pack.