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Think globally, act locally

Posted 14 August Josef Hoccom

There is an initiative recently for companies not only to produce what is needed for the consumer but to also encourage better consumption habits which in turn reduces the operation costs and the effect on the environment.

Unilever’s Cif initiative, where consumers can ‘top-up’ existing bottles with eco-refills rather than re-purchasing a bulkier full-size spray unit, is set to have a huge impact on its operational activities. The result is that it has reduced its plastic production per bottle by 75% and when it comes to logistics, they are transporting 97% less water. This means that 87% fewer trucks on the road and all these simple changes have a huge impact on the sustainability of the company and the environment.

We have also seen companies like Zara use analytical data acquired from there store managers and EPOS devices to dictate what they manufacture and where they deliver it. Zara uses this information to adapt what to make each week only producing garments that they know will sell. This results in less wastage and a more streamlined but profitable manufacturing process. Throw into the mix that they are also intending to use materials from recycled garments and source new materials mindfully, they aim to reduce their impact globally.

Analytical data is such a powerful tool that can be used across the whole company cycle bringing benefits to areas you wouldn’t think could have an environmental impact.

It can be used to direct stock across to areas where there is more demand for one product over another. This would especially be beneficial to the food industry. If one area is selling more strawberries than another, for example, less product is likely to perish on the shelf where it is less likely to be bought. The carbon footprint of producing and transporting food is reduced.

Alongside using improved logistics and manufacturing processes, companies can also invest in more efficient inventory and warehouse management systems.  By introducing barcode scanners and cloud-based warehouse management systems, you can not only reduce paper usage within the environment but also adopt efficient picking routes that minimise fuel and energy consumption. Using resources more effectively, in turn, reduces running costs.

Data and Technology can change a ‘gut feel’ decision making process with a data-driven one – this means you’re making smart decisions that could affect the way you run the company. By getting business-wide data, you gain visibility into all areas of your operations and you can quickly identify trends. You can also discover information about suppliers and products which can be used to make the right decisions environmentally.

WWD Warehousing & Logistics

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