Some keys to making supply chains more sustainable with tech

How tech can make supply chains more sustainable

The integration of national economies into a globalized system represented one of the most important developments of the last century, resulting in the explosion of trade between countries and by exports and imports which today represent more than 50%. of the global production of wealth. This tremendous expansion has, however, created environmental challenges to which concrete responses are urgently needed. Logistics is at the heart of these issues and we have real means to act.

While the growth of world trade can be seen as a positive development, meeting the needs of billions of people around the world, it raises many questions today. Moral, ethical and environmental questions which could be summed up as follows: “Even if we have all these possibilities, is it so far that we should take advantage of them? “.

These questions concern the way of consuming, but also (and perhaps above all) the way of managing the increasingly complex logistics chains that underpin international trade.

Over the past twenty years, Supply Chains have benefited from immense gains in terms of speed and efficiency, in a context of shrinking margins and the search for ever higher performance. It is thanks to these gains that we find in our stores products that come from all over the world, or that we can have an item delivered to us the next day that we buy via our smartphone.

Optimizing supply chains continues to be increasingly strategic for business efficiency and consumer satisfaction. But this optimization must now take into account environmental and societal aspects that have become a priority. 

Empower consumers to buy more responsibly

Shopping online has never been easier or faster than it is today. But the billions of purchases made on the internet are far from being transported optimally, while we have potentially immense leeway to improve things.

What about these typical situations where customers who have made purchases over several days (or even over a single day) see deliverers scrolling to their homes… when a single grouped delivery would have been much smarter?

Yet technology makes it possible to do so. For example, it is quite possible to allow a customer to create orders in “provisional” mode, to modify them or to add articles until the moment of loading in the delivery truck . This approach would allow considerable savings in terms of kilometers traveled and packaging, not only for deliveries but also for product returns.

It is essential to allow customers to act directly on the processes of preparing and fulfilling their orders. Their good environmental sense will do the rest.

Less vacuum in trucks and packaging

Another major topic is the optimization of truck loading. It is as much a question of preventing trucks from hitting the road with a semi-empty trailer, as it is to improve loading at pallet level, and even at packaging level.

Certain algorithms now make it possible to increase the filling rate of trucks by up to + 7%. It doesn’t sound like much, but for a distributor using a fleet of several thousand trucks traveling several million kilometers each year, these marginal gains can translate into a very significant reduction in the company’s carbon footprint. .

Intelligent packaging and packaging on demand technologies , meanwhile, can significantly reduce unnecessarily oversized packages, and even minimize the air (empty space) unnecessarily transported in a package. Again, this promotes optimized loading and a reduction in the number of trucks on the roads or planes in the air.

Smarter and more sustainable transport

After loading, transportation. Route optimization technologies have enabled significant gains in recent years, in particular by defining the most relevant routes based on multiple factors (grouping of delivery points, fuel consumption, etc.).

Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible to go even further in optimization by integrating other data. By taking into account, in real time, the weather forecast, traffic conditions, data related to low-emission areas in cities, but also by being able to accelerate calculations by nearly 80%, the management tools transport not only improves business performance and customer satisfaction – they also act on the carbon footprint.

Choose the right technology partners

Computer tools are more and more efficient and computing power ever higher. But this also translates into a much greater impact in terms of energy and the environment. 

The choice of technological partners is essential to ensure that this impact is measured, controlled and optimized. Choosing to have your IT in the cloud brings great benefits for the company. But it must not neglect the commitment and policy of its supplier in terms of sustainable development.

Towards a more sustainable future

Global trade is vital to the daily lives and well-being of billions of people around the world. The movement of goods will never be entirely “green”, that is obvious. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be more righteous. As COP26 has just taken place, we must act responsibly and proactively, and play an active role for a sustainable future.

Preserving and protecting the environment starts with the little decisions we can all make every day. Among these decisions, we know that those related to our purchases and our consumption pattern are decisive.

Enable consumers to make more responsible purchasing decisions; reduce CO2 emissions again and again thanks to the progress of artificial intelligence; choose carbon neutral technological partners; and, more generally, to design products and services against humans and the planet. This is how world trade can continue to evolve.

About Odutolu Timothy

Passionate about technology and communication, Timothy Odutolu has more than 5 years of experience writing for various niches in these fields. He's more comfortable writing about the key trends in the business-to-business software-as-a-service (B2B SaaS) niche. He is also a generalist with interests in journalism, DIY and outdoor, and other writing services. He's reachable via Twitter, LinkedIn, and email through or

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