Rail Industry Focus


Tracking the contribution of logistics to sustainability

Source: RTM June/July 2018

Andreas Johansson, vice president of the engineering & manufacturing sector at DHL, and Manoella Wilbaut, the company’s head of global commercial developments & sustainability, explore ways in which the rail industry can achieve eco-friendly transportation and logistics.

The rail industry has a strong tradition of following the rules with a long-established culture of compliance, particularly around passenger safety. Every time the regulatory bar is raised, and often when the pressure of public opinion escalates, the rail industry dutifully responds. So it is no surprise that rail companies are increasingly prioritising issues of environmentalism and sustainability.

Rail is an intrinsically sustainable mode of transport and contributes to reducing road congestion. It plays a vital role in moving freight from A to B with dependable speed of transportation, demonstrable cost efficiency, and relatively low environmental impact. Additionally, there are several ways for rail companies to contribute more to environmental protection and sustainability using logistics.

Production flow efficiencies

Why make several separate journeys when just one will do? DHL works closely with rail equipment manufacturers to combine multi-supplier consignments into their factories – inbound-to-manufacturing (I2M) logistics – to effectively reduce the number of freight journeys. This makes the entire inbound supply chain more transparent, improves production planning, and reduces carbon emissions. It is also important to identify return loads. After delivering one shipment, a carrier can collect another and thus minimise empty runs. For example, after delivering raw materials from a supplier to a rail manufacturer, the same truck can be refilled and dispatched from the plant to deliver finished goods to a warehouse or perhaps scrap metals to a recycling center.

As part of its long-term partnership with Network Rail, DHL has successfully utilised transportation efficiencies such as these. Within just one year of implementing combined consignments and return loads, Network Rail was able to eliminate an annual 885,000km of road transportation, cutting the equivalent of 750,000kg of CO2 emissions.

Inner-city deliveries

Why not use pedal power? When goods arrive by rail on the outskirts of a city, subsequent onward deliveries by road can increase pollution levels. To help reduce emissions in built-up areas, DHL Express is piloting customised trailers called City Hubs, used in combination with customised cargo bicycles called DHL Cubicyles. Each bike can carry a load of up to 125kg, effectively removing the need for standard delivery vehicles.

It’s clear that pedal power can make an important contribution to sustainability. Already, DHL Express has introduced bicycles in more than 80 European cities in 13 European countries, including 14 Cubicycles in seven cities. The City Hub pilot indicates that each trailer is capable of saving the equivalent of 16 tonnes of CO2 per year while also significantly reducing other emissions.

E-mobility also contributes to reducing inner-city noise and environmental pollution. Deutsche Post DHL has developed and commercialised the StreetScooter to enable quieter, more eco-friendly deliveries. Thousands of StreetScooters are now in use.

Predictive maintenance

Why make new decisions based on old information? Instead of sticking to a historical maintenance plan, rail companies can make better maintenance, repair and operation decisions by using predictive analytics, which also provides significant environmental benefits. For example, companies can avoid urgent eco-unfriendly shipment of repair parts and can minimise emissions by maintaining equipment at optimal levels. For many years now, DHL has been managing inventory stocks for Network Rail and ensuring delivery of critical materials and spares to trackside in support of challenging 30-minute maintenance SLAs.

DHL’s commitment

While working closely with customers to minimise environmental impact, DHL also makes its own contribution to sustainability. Recognising the need for a change of mindset, DHL is leading the change in logistics with its ambitious ‘Mission 2050: Zero Emissions.’ The company is committed to innovation in sustainability and collaborates within an ecosystem of customers, strategic partners and communities while championing green causes. DHL showcases the latest sustainability solutions in its Innovation Centers located in Germany, Singapore and – recently announced – near Chicago, USA.

E: [email protected]
W: www.dhl.com


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