Driven by the rapid growth in attention for sustainable logistics, a number of specific logistic concepts has been created or perfected to lower the CO2 footprint of any company in the European Fashion, Textile and Sports industry. These concepts are all tested and proven successful, and are available to all. All of them are pragmatic in their set up, and all of them contribute to a more sustainable supply chain.
Bundling at the source
This initiative is aiming at moving the pick and pack of seasonal goods to a warehouse in the source country. By making shop ready shipments, combining goods from multiple factories, the need for transport to your European warehouse is gone. Shipments can move straight from arrival in the European harbour to the client’s shop. Additional advantages are better consolidation, faster lead times, lower costs and taking pressure away from the peak season in your own warehouse. Bundling at the source has been operating for a couple of years now, with focus on source country China, and other countries in development.
The shipping of samples from factories to Europe has been one of the most expensive and polluting parts of the supply chain. Both production and sales samples are usually shipped out with fast courier services. A new process has been created in which part of the samples is being ‘slowed down’ and put on a consolidated weekly regular air shipment. In this process, every sample is monitored and judged on its time critical aspects. If needed, it will continue with courier service, if not, it will move to the weekly airfreight. This process has been tested and made operational in 2019, with China as the main focus. Apart from the better CO2 performance, financial savings for the participating companies have been around 30%.
This is a simple and practical concept which saves both money and a lot of CO2. In any European country, some 5 to 8 different parcel delivery companies take care of most of the parcels going to shops. At an average independent retailer, you will see 6 trucks stopping every day, each with one or two parcels to deliver. The reason for this is that the suppliers to that shop all have their own transport contracts, there is no coordination. If all suppliers to that shop use the same transport firm, the same number of parcels is delivered in less shipments. So, it is really about working together with a limited number of logistic companies.
In addition to this ‘eliminating the number of trucks’, some companies are currently coordinating their delivery moments, thus creating even bigger shipments, and less delivery moments. Theoretically, there is an optimum for this ‘consolidation in truck and in time’, and this optimum can save about 50% of all truck movements into any city in Europe. This is still far away. But it shows that a relatively simple collaboration already pays off huge results. Results by a couple of European industry associations show that already between 10 and 15% savings is realized.
Sustainable ocean shipping
This initiative was taken to tackle the huge amount of air in most sea containers from Asia to Europe. Analysis shows that the average so called full container (FCL) is only loaded for 65%. This is caused by the price mechanism that makes any company book a full container from a certain amount of cubic meters of goods. From this volume onwards it currently makes no sense financially to send the shipment out as a less container shipment (LCL). So, nobody does, meaning many FCL’s are not full at all.
In a new initiative the ‘not really full’ FCL’s are being shipped as LCL, meaning that they will be consolidated with the regular LCL shipments. By adding a transparency in the subsequent consolidating, and by working together with other companies that produce in the same area, a much better consolidation result is being made, with the financial benefits returning to the participants on a quarterly basis. In a thorough analysis of 12 fashion brands in The Netherlands, it showed that these companies would have used 30% less containers in 2018 if they had worked together in consolidating, and would have sent their bad FCL’s in for consolidation as well.
International rail solutions
This concept speaks for itself. Transport by rail is one of the less polluting ways to transport. The amount of goods from the Fashion, Textile and Sports industry that is now being transported through rail is however less than 3%. With new possibilities coming up that make cost lower and processes more efficient, rail is becoming more and more an alternative for parts of the supply chain. This is both from Asia to Europe, as well as for intra Europe transport.
In general, there is a wide variety of packaging cartons in use in the Fashion, Textile and Sports industry. Both from production to Europe, as well as from warehouse to shop or consumer, a lot of different sizes and qualities of parcels can be found. The lack of well tested and accepted standards has led to the current situation that everybody is making their own judgement.
All research show that a lot of space in transport is lost, and a lot of unnecessary carton is used as a result. Any average container or truck could be stuffed a couple of percentages better if a modular sizing system would exist. Also, especially on the Asia-Europe cartons, some 35% less carton could be used without giving up strength and quality.
Currently, an international initiative is underway to create European packaging standards for the Fashion, Textile and Sports industry, on both sizing and strength requirements. Many industry associations are teaming up here, to make sure that the scale is met to push these standards once and for all.