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How simple operational changes can drive efficiency

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A Supreme Court judgement back in April ruled that the UK Government must draw up new plans to reduce NOx emissions by the end of 2015.

Transport is the biggest single contributor in the production of Nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted into the atmosphere by diesel engines and can have a damaging impact on our health and wellbeing.

With campaigners calling for an expansion of low-emission zones in urban areas and higher taxes for the dirtiest vehicles, logistics providers must act now to drive efficiencies across their fleet.

1. Phase out diesel vehicles

Following the wide-spread promotion of their low fuel consumptive qualities, most logistics firms almost exclusively use diesel vehicles. However, with diesel vans, trucks and cars producing three times the amount of nitrogen dioxide than their petrol-fuelled counterparts, it is likely that pressure will be applied to phase them out.

Although updating the entire fleet at once is unrealistic, firms should begin discussing a staged phasing-out of high NOx emitting vehicles. This can be achieved by opting to buy petrol or greener alternatives when purchasing new vehicles as opposed to diesel models. Companies should also utilise electric-powered bicycles and motorcycle couriers for the delivery of small packages in city centre locations.

2. Consider alternative delivery models

While the contingent of next-day delivery is now a must have for many customers  the retail industry in particular has been able to make use of click and collect services which can help to reduce emissions. Successfully adopted by the likes of John Lewis and Amazon, delivering multiple orders to selected ‘collect’ locations decreases the number of individual company vehicles on the road while preserving fast delivery times.

3. Develop ‘super-local’ supply chains

Businesses and logistics providers can work together to localise their supply chains, reducing the amount of transportation needed to deliver all component parts to a manufacturing centre and then, to the customer.

This can be achieved by the establishment of a larger number of provincial warehouses or depots which service different parts of the country. The move to super-local is also being aided by advancements in technology, with 3D printing facilitating the rapid production and delivery of parts on a regional scale.

4. Explore alternative packaging solutions

Often overlooked by firms is the opportunity to increase efficiency through the development of innovative or lightweight packaging solutions. Reducing the size of packaging or developing packaging which tessellates to fit snugly into a delivery truck or van will decrease the number of round trips made by company vehicles to customers.

For logistics firms and companies with diesel-powered delivery fleets, the pressure is now on to reduce emissions and increase efficiencies. Businesses should act now to invest in greener vehicles, adopt innovative delivery and packaging solutions and develop super-local supply chains in light of these new measures.

www.officedepot.eu

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Katie Beck

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