Transport logistics embrace the entire organisation, control, provision and optimisation of processes governing both movements of freight and passengers within a system and the means of transport themselves. Energy efficiency in logistics can particularly be achieved via intelligent networking of different modes of transport and infrastructures. Further to this, there are various innovative developments by German firms and software designers which help to optimise transport processes.
Logistical and technical measures
On the one hand, there are purely logical questions to be answered by - generally computer-based - logistics. For example: how much freight fits into a standardised space? Which loading or unloading sequence is shortest? And which mode of transport is the best in terms of time and price? On the other hand, there are technical solutions like the use of fleet management systems or the use of energy-efficient equipment in transport.
Transport and tour optimisation
One traditional method is to optimise transport by improving the capacity management. Modern IT tools from German logistics software providers which take stowage rules into account support such systems. As well as improving the load factor, tour optimisation programmes reduce the proportion of unladen kilometres travelled and thus the fuel consumption per tonne of freight transported. Such systems also optimise the maintenance intervals for the means of transport, handle tyre management, and transmit various data to the shipping agent - e.g. on diesel consumption and driver performance in the case of road haulage (cf. diagram).
Logistics is able not only to ensure that loads are packaged together in a rational manner, but also to shift transport to more energy-efficient transport systems or routes in terms of cost and time taken. Here, mention should be made of proven concepts like cooperation between companies, freight space marts, freight transport centres, the familiar concept of intermodal transport, but also "wet" in-port routes, using e.g. barges rather than trucks.
Efficient storage logistics
Energy-efficient technologies are available not only for transport but also for storage. Supported by increasing automation and state-of-the-art building technology, these optimise the operations. Various German firms - from storage equipment providers to conveyance system manufacturers, process optimisers and facility managers - offer not only energy-optimised new buildings, but also the modernisation of older storage facilities.
Managing the cold chain
Refrigerated goods make special demands of logistics. The cold chain must not be interrupted. Of course, energy-efficient packaging is available, from polystyrene boxes to refrigerated containers or trailers. The use of scroll compressors, which compress the coolant, offers particular benefits for refrigerated containers. They consume up to 40% less energy than conventional appliances. Special superstructures for trucks developed by German manufacturers make it possible to transport deep-frozen, refrigerated and ambient-temperature dry cargo side by side in multicompartment vehicles. Another approach: the shipping on the return journey of products which do not require refrigeration. This clearly reduces the proportion of empty journeys and optimises the capacity utilisation of the means of transport. Energy efficiency improves, and costs are cut.