Reducing waste in the supply chain: 4 take-aways from the CILT seminar hosted by DP World London Gateway

DP World London Gateway, the UK's most advanced deep-sea container terminal, was host to last week's Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) seminar on how to reduce waste in your supply chain. Steve Malkin, founder of The Planet Mark™ sustainability certification programme, sets out his four key take-aways from the event

DP World London Gateway Port seems like a fitting host for a seminar focused on reducing waste in the supply chain. The UK’s first purpose built port for over 100 years, it deploys state-of-the-art design and technology to maximise efficiency and was recently named Best Green Port and Terminal.

London Gateway is the first port in the world to achieve The Planet MarkTM.  It has done so by putting systems in place to reduce and monitor its carbon emissions, which include high quality data and detailed carbon measurement, automated stacking cranes and other hi-tech initiatives that increase efficiency. Through cutting its carbon footprint, the port plays a critical role in the lifecycle carbon for every product moving through it. If we could do that through the entire supply chain – through to end of life – then it's easy to see how you could achieve large-scale carbon savings.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) seminar last week aimed to shine a light on this increasing trend in business sustainability.Here are four of my key take-aways from the day:

1. Keep it LeanEmile Naus a partner and Technical director at LCP, described the benefits of lean production using Toyota’s 7 (and latterly with an 8th) lean principles. Recommendations included to time your production to meet demand and minimise over-production. Inventory adds cost and doesn’t add value to the customer, and too much stock can stifle innovation. Keep quality high to reduce maintenance and take-backs but don’t over-process

2. There’s a lot to learn from bananasDavid Bateman, managing director of SH Pratt, one of Europe’s largest banana importers and ripeners, explained how the high volume, low margin product has challenges in importing and storing that we can all learn from. Pratt’s quality control has cut waste from 12% to 1%, reducing by 7000 tonnes per annum and saved one retailer £4 million a year. It also helped reduce rejections by 1%, equivalent to 61,000 boxes (that’s over 1,200 pallets). Investing in people and facilities pays dividends. Out of 234 employees, the average length of service is 12 years, and 10 people have been at Pratt’s for over 25 years. And new chillers, renewable energy and LEDs is reducing cost and creating a better working environment making Pratt’s the greenest ripening facility in Europe and possibly the world. David also announced the plan to take a new distribution centre at London Gateway Logistics Park this summer as part of the company’s growth plans

3. "Port-centric" logistics – Oliver Treneman, London Gateway Logistics Park Development director, outlined the benefits of "port-centric" logistics at the 460-acre park development where planning consent is in place for 9.25Mft2 of warehousing.The port/park model enables direct delivery to customer and to store and the grade A warehousing is designed to be energy, cost and carbon efficient in operation and construction. The port performance has a truck turnaround time of less than 35 minutes and over four years to port has lost less than 12-hours downtime – providing certainty on delivery times

4. Collaboration for transformation – I spoke about the opportunity to go beyond incremental change by collaborating with stakeholders in your supply chain. Transformation is taking hold and it is important to be flexible in the way you work to take opportunities presented by changes in technology, and it reduces the risk of being left behind. Great examples of collaboration include Bywaters, the waste management company that works with customers’ employees to measurably increase recycling rates, and Harrow Green the relocation specialist, which finds new life for unwanted furniture by partnering with 1000s of charities and social enterprises. Two other great case studies include Bidfood’s Plate2Planet sustainability website, which shares knowledge to encourage sector-wide collaboration, and of course, London Gateway, which has chosen to drive its sustainability ethos through every building on its Logistics Park. The first two park buildings – the Logistics Centre and a joint venture distribution centre with Prologis – both achieved The Planet Mark™ Certification for New Developments.  The Logistics Centre reduced its lifetime carbon by 33% by engaging Buckingham Group as the main contractor and designing and constructing a highly energy and carbon efficient building.

It was valuable to hear so much hard-won knowledge being shared with customer and competitors alike on how to reduce waste in the supply chain. That’s one of the great things about sustainability, it is a chance to learn from each other, to create better business, products and services – and a better world as a result.

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