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Bin 'dead miles' to slash emissions, says Gophr

Andres Rodriguez, head of operations at Gophr, asserts that removing ‘dead miles’ is essential for any sustainable transport or logistics business. Here’s why.

Climate change is a huge risk to businesses all over the world, and it’s vital that companies do all they can to halt its devastating effects. Many of the world’s most carbon-intensive sectors are now making changes to improve sustainability, and the logistics industry is one of them.

Whilst a great number of logistics processes are currently detrimental in terms of climate change, there are steps that can be taken to offset carbon emissions and boost sustainability. One of the key areas which logistics companies should be focusing on is ‘dead miles’. Let’s take a closer look at what this term really means, and how removing dead miles might benefit businesses, consumers and the planet as a whole.  

What are dead miles?

Dead miles is a term used to refer to any travel that is undertaken unnecessarily, as part of logistics processes. The vast majority of supply chains include some dead miles. These miles are often the result of problems with infrastructure, inefficient routes or a lack of planning in delivery options. Not only are dead miles bad for the environment, they are also costly and time-consuming. All businesses should be on the lookout for ways to remove dead miles from their logistics processes, in order to save time, money and emissions.  

Consumer expectations are rising, making it increasingly challenging for companies to provide urgent and same-day delivery solutions without contributing to dead mileage. However, something logistics companies should adopt (if they haven't already) is to optimise delivery routes and encourage multi-pickup and drop-offs, rather than direct routes.  

This is something that the food delivery space struggles with, especially because food has to be delivered as an express service – almost always contributing to dead miles on the return journey. This highlights the need for further innovation in the industry to find a solution that is perfect for both supplier and the consumer. In the meantime, however, removing dead miles is a task that has to be undertaken with some compromises.  

It’s clear that removing dead miles is often a complex task, not least because the miles tend to be a result of numerous factors. Businesses that offer consumers a range of time slots for delivery, for instance, may well find their vans and lorries fall victim to dead miles regularly.  

In cases like these, the company has made a decision to offer its consumers the choice of many different time slots for their convenience. Removing dead miles might sometimes mean limiting consumers’ choices, and losing some amount of edge over the competition. However, as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of climate change, the influence that environmental factors have on purchasing decisions is on the rise.  

Companies should highlight the steps that are being taken to remove dead miles, and get consumers on board with their new focus on sustainability. Look to retailers such as Ocado for inspiration. The online supermarket gives consumers the opportunity to book a ‘green’ delivery slot, when their vans will already be in the area. This helps to reduce dead miles, and gives consumers the opportunity to back the company’s sustainability improvements.  

Why should we consider dead miles?  

Dead miles are expensive, inefficient and bad for the environment. So, removing them is a no brainer. Companies looking to grow over the coming months and years need to put sustainability at the top of the agenda. Not only is sustainability crucial for the planet as a whole, it’s also set to become a huge concern for consumers. Customers really do care about the carbon footprint of the brands they buy, and this concern is growing over time.  

Younger generations, such as millennials, are particularly interested in the environmental impact of brands. The Cone Communications CSR Study found that “68% of millennials bought a product with a social or environmental benefit in the past 12 months,” and “88% will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.”  

It’s not just for the benefit of customers, however. Removing dead miles is important for business as well. Reducing dead mileage can have a positive impact on warehouse or storage efficiency by enabling better optimisation of storage space. This allows warehouses to sell more storage whilst reducing the cost for the customer. More so, it enables storage facilities to better plan inbound and outbound freight for all-round increased efficiency. Better planning improves the turnaround of goods, consequently helping to boost that all-important customer service.  

Any sustainable transport or logistics business needs to make eliminating dead miles one of its key objectives. The carbon footprint of dead miles is unnecessary, and usually completely avoidable with the help of a few changes. Businesses should carefully consider the journeys that their staff take, and adapt routes to enhance efficiency wherever possible. By doing so, companies can save huge amounts of time and money, whilst simultaneously reducing their environmental impact

Ultimately, in today’s climate, it’s clear that brands can no longer afford to overlook sustainability – so it’s time to think seriously about eliminating those dead miles.  

Andres Rodriguez from Gophr reports.

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