Building a Sustainability Tech Stack: A Guide for Consultants in the Freight Industry
Consultants provide the knowledge and expertise to assist businesses in reaching their goals. They’re helping them gain a competitive edge, giving them the right recommendations and tools to help in areas from workflows and operations to business strategies. Increasingly, for companies with complex supply chains to manage, this includes goals related to sustainability technology.
This guide looks at eight key components of a sustainable technology stack in the freight industry. With this list, consultants can help companies gain an advantage and stand out from the competition.
The Importance of a Tech Stack in Sustainability
Whether a consultant is focused on helping companies go green or not, it is a growing demand, as more companies recognize the importance of investing in sustainability. The demand comes from consumers as well as regulations, and the influence flows up the supply chain. Eventually, companies of all types will face this, especially those in logistics and freight, with supply chain carbon emissions being a significant portion of most companies’ total emissions. Shippers looking to reduce their supply chain emissions will want to work with freight forwarders that value sustainability. Consultants can help get those freight forwarders, as well as shippers, to the place of sustainable logistics and transparency. To get there, it takes the right tech stack.
Parts of a Sustainable Technology Stack
Technology is a necessary component to informing companies on their carbon emissions and helping them take steps toward lowering emissions. It can provide a snapshot of their current state, data needed to make decisions, and the ability to measure and track progress.
As sustainability technology affects many different aspects of operations, it should rely on synergy between all components to meet its full potential. These pieces do not exist on islands; they are connected to each other to provide more value than they could separately. With this in mind, here are 8 top components to include in a sustainable technology stack.
1. Supply Chain Analytics Tools
This first component has the power to provide carbon emissions insights to any workflow or operation. Analytics tools help data turn into action, allowing companies to identify areas of high emissions and implement changes. Power BI is a common solution in this category, but it must be supplied with sustainability data through a provider like Searoutes.
Searoutes offers carbon emissions data specific to the exact journey for each shipment, not just the average for the trade lane. This gives companies granular data that helps them identify the sources of carbon emissions with the biggest potential for reduction. By feeding this data into Power BI, users can analyze their emission sources and how they may be making progress toward their goals.
2. Carbon Footprint Calculators
A carbon emissions calculator enables companies to assess and understand the environmental impact of their logistics and shipping operations. Using the calculator on their procurement options, they can clearly see the causes and effects of how different decisions directly impact their emissions.
There is value in using a calculator with a methodology accredited by the Smart Freight Centre for aligning with the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) framework. But Searoutes’ methodology, also GLEC-accredited, expands on the need for granular level data further, taking data from more sources for calculations that are more accurate and more precise.
3. Carbon Offset Platforms
Carbon offset platforms allow businesses to invest in projects that compensate for their environmental impact. The strategy behind sustainability and carbon offsetting should be to reduce what carbon emissions the company can, called carbon insetting, and then offset the remaining unavoidable emissions.
While carbon offsetting is distinctly different from insetting, both require data transparency. There are carbon offset platforms that offer visibility and accountability by providing project details, certifications, and emissions reduction methodologies. Businesses receive carbon credits in return for their investments, representing measurable emission reductions. This is an immediate way for companies to take action and align their sustainability efforts with their values.
4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies have many applications within logistics; one is analyzing supply chain and transportation data to identify emission reduction opportunities. Companies can gain insights and make decisions driven by the data, whether for factors like transportation routes and delivery schedules or demand patterns for optimizing logistics and minimizing emissions.
AI and ML can be integrated into most software tools, like Power BI, making it compatible with other sustainability technologies in the stack. Solutions like APIs make integration easy for companies to use these advanced technologies quickly.
5. Electric or Hybrid Fleet Management Tools
If a company is transitioning to electric or hybrid vehicles, software tools can help manage charging, maintenance, and routing for optimal fleet use and reduced emissions. Companies can route to changing stations given the vehicle range and charging station availability, monitor the charging status of vehicles, and schedule charging during off-peak hours to reduce strain on the grid. Maintenance modules provide vehicle servicing alerts to improve reliability and performance.
By utilizing electric or hybrid fleet management tools, companies can maximize the benefits of their eco-friendly vehicle investments and collect data on their emissions reduction.
6. Circular Economy Platforms
Platforms for the circular economy help companies manage returned and excess inventory, which reduces the need for new product manufacturing, in this way decreasing emissions. By connecting sellers, buyers, and recycling facilities, these platforms enable the circulation of products, components, and materials, extending their lifespan, promoting resource efficiency, and reducing waste.
Circular economy platforms also help companies realize financial advantages by reducing waste disposal costs and creating new revenue streams through product resale. However, with a focus on sustainability, the primary benefit is the value they provide in helping companies mitigate their environmental impacts.
7. Renewable Energy Procurement Tools
Renewable energy procurement tools help companies transition their operations to run on renewable energy sources, which can significantly reduce emissions. These platforms streamline the processes of sourcing and procurement. Companies can access a marketplace that connects them with providers of a range of renewable energy options, such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric power.
Companies can reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact by shifting to renewable energy sources. With this type of platform, companies get data transparency on the source and generation methods of the energy purchased, ensuring credibility and helping their sustainability reporting.
8. Transportation Management Systems (TMS)
Last is the tool that should not be overlooked for its ability to help companies achieve their sustainability goals—the TMS. A company’s TMS can help optimize routes to reduce fuel usage and inform intermodal transport decisions that can potentially reduce emissions.
However, for a TMS to be used most effectively to lower a company’s environmental impact, it must be integrated with carbon emissions data on all types of procurement options. When users can see their expected emissions before procurement decisions are made, they can use this as a factor in the decision.
Searoutes’ carbon emissions data can integrate into the TMS for this purpose, helping companies make informed decisions by making the data clear and accessible. This might not always result in the greenest decision being made, but companies can weigh their options, even on a case-by-case basis, and easily track their progress.
Give Your Tech Stack the Advantage of Searoutes Data
Each of these tools in a sustainability technology stack serves at least one of two purposes: connecting companies with resources or supplying them with data. With this, companies have what they need to make informed decisions for meaningful action.
Searoutes provides companies with the detailed and quality carbon emissions data they need to be fully informed. This means accurate and precise data, rather than averages which are often the norm but make it difficult for companies to pinpoint the best steps to take for sustainability and prove any resulting carbon emission reductions. Searoutes helps companies gain control over their emissions and makes it easy through an API-first approach to technology.