The more sustainable a carrier, the more sustainable the supply chain of the shipper using that carrier.
But how do you assess sustainability? Here are seven questions a shipper should ask when talking to a carrier.
1. Does the carrier have preventative maintenance schedules in place for equipment?
Following a preventative maintenance schedule can extend the life of equipment and positively impact air quality. Additionally, ask how the carrier handles the byproducts from the maintenance process to ensure that these are being reused or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.
2. What is their response when it comes to chemical spills?
A carrier that frequently hauls chemicals should have a proactive program in place so they can respond quickly and effectively to protect the public, employees and the environment in the event of a spill. This includes utilizing an emergency response vendor as well as training employees in hazardous materials handling, security, and more. All drivers should carry the tanker and hazardous material endorsements on their CDL so they are educated about hazardous materials transportation safety. Aside from this, a carrier should also be committed to lessening their environmental impact via a re-use, recycle and/or salvage program to lessen the amount of hazardous material sent to landfills.
3. What are the carrier’s disposal protocols and recycling habits?
A successful recycling program for tires and other items can help the environment. More specifically, tires can go through a retreading process that extends their life; when the tire has no more usage left, it can then be recycled and disposed of properly. Saia has a number of recycling initiatives, including a tire program that maximizes the life of tires and mileage, yet minimizes costs.
4. How does a carrier monitor and manage its fuel consumption?
The aerodynamics of the trailer and equipment specifications for tires and engines can all potentially reduce fuel consumption. Additionally, training drivers on proper shifting techniques has a direct impact on fuel conservation.
5. What is the fleet’s loading average?
A higher load average results in less trips overall, which in turn, results in less fuel consumed and reduced CO2 and NOX emissions.
6. Is the carrier active in the EPA SmartWay® program?
A vast majority of the large shippers are involved in the EPA SmartWay® program. By choosing a fellow SmartWay partner, shippers can be confident their carrier is monitoring its greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and making efforts to reduce them — which supports the shippers’ SmartWay initiatives as well.
7. What other programs does the carrier have in place to reduce their own environmental impact?
There are numerous ways a carrier can minimize its overall impact. For example, through a partnership with Brightery, Saia designed and implemented a solar panel system at its Charlotte, NC, location that exceeds the entire annual energy consumption requirement for that facility and significantly reduces energy costs. Saia is currently making other operational changes to minimize its environmental impact — from testing battery-powered lifts in order to reduce propane usage to installing upgraded LED lighting in terminals.
Shippers also play a supporting role in helping carriers be more efficient. Activities such as assessing shipping schedules and consolidating where possible and cutting down on the use of non-recyclable shipping materials have a direct impact on the sustainability of the carrier.
When it comes to supply chain sustainability, shippers and carriers must work together; the operations of one can impact the effectiveness of the other.
To learn more about other solutions that can impact supply chain efficiency, read our blog post, Five Saia Solutions that Address Shippers Needs.