Defining the low carbon supply chain

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We can all point to some of the initiatives that companies are looking at to make their supply chains more environmentally-friendly.

There are those that are still discovering the benefits of switching off lights when they are not needed. There are lots of experiments with battery-power and fuel cells. Shipping lines are trying to persuade companies that slow-steaming is good for them (although there are growing complaints that it is forcing major changes in supply chains). And one enterprising brewer has put a grass roof on its distribution centre.

But what does it take to make a low-carbon supply chain? A new initiative from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board could point the way.

It’s called Project ABIL (Agent Based Intelligent Logistics) and is aimed at helping logistics move to a low carbon world that also delivers improved economic productivity.

A consortium has just been selected by the Technology Strategy Board to deliver the project including: MDS Transmodal in partnership with LCP Consulting, Manhattan Associates and with technical input from Cranfield School of Management’s Complex Systems Research Centre.

The £1.4million project will create complex systems models to help determine the investments and policies required for freight and logistics to move to a low carbon world that also delivers improved economic productivity. The TSB says integrated planning, policy and design across the freight modes is completely new. Agent-based modelling using complex systems thinking has been successfully applied in other areas.

This is just the first of a dozen “intelligent logistics” projects being developed by the Technology Strategy Board and is a relatively small step, but it could open the way to new approaches to the idea of a low carbon supply chain.

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