The last mileby Peter Diehm on 2011-12-19 04:58:42
In their publication “Delivering Tomorrow – Towards Sustainable Logistics”, a must read for anybody interested in sustainable logistics, DHL points out one of the most critical parts of any delivery: The last mile. A chain reaction of events can occur if the customer will not be there to receive the package. These events will cause the carrier extra money, time, resources and also the carbon footprint of the shipment will be increased.
What can be done to improve the last mile and create more successful deliveries? The goal is to make sure the carrier has the right address and somebody will be there to receive the shipment. A lot of truck, air and express parcel service providers offer their customers automatic shipment status alerts which can be set up on request. This is great for companies who control how their freight comes in, and request that their suppliers ship collect. But in cases when suppliers select the shipment method and ship using their house carriers most often the tracking information is not passed on to the recipient.
Though there are big companies like online stores who notify their customers that a product has shipped and inform them about the tracking number, a lot of smaller businesses are not doing this. For them the shipment is out of their mind when it has left the facility, and their customer has only partial or vague information about how and when to expect it.
And here it is where the sustainability factor of a supply chain can be improved. If the shipper sets up their ERP system with an automatic e-mail system which sends tracking number and delivery address to the customer, the customer will be able to double check the address, monitor the progress of the shipment, and know roughly when to expect the shipment. If the customer is a small contractor for example, then they might not always have somebody at their facility to receive the items and thus they will need to plan ahead.
One might also argue what if the shipper is a small company where there might not be an ERP system in place. In that case good customer service can be demonstrated via a hand typed e-mail with the tracking information send to the customer after shipment was picked up. Through an advanced notification system e-mail using ERP or by hand, the visibility of the supply chain could be significantly improved and unnecessary truck miles reduced. Good communication increases efficiency, and sustainability is all about increased efficiency.
What can the trucking companies and express parcel services do to increase sustainability besides providing excellent tracking information? They can do driver training, route optimization, improve their online communication tools, upgrade equipment, use biofuels, put solar panels on their distribution centers, and many other things.
Check out the www.carpediehm.com website to get more ideas. But keep in mind the trucker will bring the items only from point A to point B. Whoever this point A and point B are, they need to work together and communicate openly to make it a successful logistical transaction and thus reduce the carbon footprint of the shipment.