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Supply chain optimization will reduce shipping emissions and benefit the environment

Date: 14/03/2011

Together with partners in the MARLEN project, DNV recently completed the development of a supply chain performance tool for calculating the environmental impact and energy efficiency of maritime logistics chains.

Two case studies used to evaluate the tool demonstrated how increased use of shipping can achieve environmental and financial benefits for the supply chain as a whole.

The Maritime Logistics Chains and the Environment project (MARLEN), established in 2008, has developed tools to map environmental performance of a logistics chain (“As-Is”) and to evaluate the potential consequences of changes in parts of the chain may have for the chain as a whole (“What-If”).

The tools were tested on Höegh Autoliners’ multimodal distribution system for transporting new cars from the production plant to inland distribution centres. A model was developed to optimise the total distribution system on a cost only, environmental performance only, or weighted combination basis changing parameters such as the number and location of ports, type of ships, sailing frequency and the use of rail or road inland. The results showed that costs and total energy consumption could be reduced when the proportion of transportation performed by ships was increased.

A second case study analysed Statoil’s logistics for moving well and drilling equipment from suppliers to oil platforms including the logistics of returning equipment for maintenance. Among the changes tested the effect of moving more of the transport volume from road to sea provided strong benefits.

Line Kaldestad, logistics manager at Statoil, said that MARLEN’s findings helped to expand the company’s efforts in green logistics. “The results of the project improved our understanding of the supply chain from an environmental perspective and we will use them in our efforts to achieve more environmentally friendly logistics practices in future.”

The study also revealed that in general there are systematic flaws in charter agreements that do not encourage commercial parties to choose the most environmentally desirable transport options.

“As logistics operators face increasing pressure to improve their environmental performance, the risks of introducing sub-optimal solutions rises,” says Per Holmvang, DNV’s environmental program director. “Solutions that have a positive environmental impact on one aspect of the logistics chain may adversely affect other parts, requiring the comprehensive approach achieved through MARLEN.”

Other participants in the MARLEN project were MARINTEK, the Scandinavian Institute of Marine Law at the University of Oslo and the Wikborg Rein legal partnership. 

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