Green-lean logistics transcript

I’m Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Professor of Operations Management and Head of the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement. We specialise in bridging the gap between theoretical research and practical solutions to some of the most critical challenges that organisations are facing in the design, management and improvement of supply chains and internal operations.

The transport and logistics sector is often criticised for the severe environmental damage it can cause. I got involved in research projects on green lean and lean logistics due to my interest in helping to minimise this impact on our planet’s environment.

Lean logistics means a focus on improving operations at all levels and optimising supply chains by reducing waste, and green-lean logistics combines the achievement of environmental objectives with operational performance.

Our work at the centre is inspired by the lean principles that are traditionally found in manufacturing, with the aim of applying these principles to tackle environmental and productivity challenges in road transportation around the world.

For example, we formed a strong collaboration with researchers from Mexico’s Universidad de Moterrey to develop a tool called ‘Sustainable Transportation Value Stream Mapping’.

In Thailand, this tool and our research has enabled Thai Post (the equivalent of our Royal Mail in the UK) to reduce the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of its delivery fleet of more than 20,000 vehicles. By reducing the ‘excess distance’ and ‘number of routes’ in its delivery operations, Thai Post also benefited from a positive impact on company efficiency and cost savings.

Our work has enabled OXXO Femsa (the largest chain of convenience stores in Latin America) to reduce ‘excess distance’ to nil and achieve a 40% reduction in the number of vehicles needed to serve daily demand, and a 40% reduction in transport costs, by reengineering truck routing processes.

But our research has value beyond the corporate sector. Our partnership with Mexico’s Red Cross has brought significant benefits to ambulance services, with average response times falling from 41.7 to 16.4 minutes. The improvements to ambulance turnaround times created new capacity for additional emergency response shifts.

By securing British Council funding we were able to apply our knowledge to agriculture in Mexico, focusing on improving food security and water conservation to alleviate poverty, through the use of agro-tech for sustainable and efficient farm operations.

Other partners who are actively applying our work include DHL Transport Operations in Mexico, HPF Co Ltd in China and Chandra Transports in South India.

We will continue working in this field to bring our applied research to a wider range of organisations in industries such as pharmaceuticals and food manufacturing. In addition, we are also exploring the effect of adopting digital technologies that may further enhance the application of lean principles in the transport and logistics sector.