Earlier This year, the Ryder Center for Supply Chain Management at Florida International University, Miami, held a Green Supply Chain Forum. It brought together some of the world's leading green supply chain experts from academia, government, and a broad range of business sectors to discuses best practices for global supply chains.

Adopting green designs and processes enables companies to reduce risk, build value for customers, and ultimately become more efficient, agile, and profitable.

The most successful green initiatives set targets, benchmark performance, and measure progress, say the experts. Many goals address larger business issues and non-financial gains, including environmental and customer service objectives.

“Ryder is actively leveraging its industry expertise and the latest technologies to help customers execute environmentally sound operational practices,” said Ryder's chairman and CEO Greg Swienton.

“Of course, significantly reducing the environmental impact of supply chain activities requires the collaboration of like-minded partners who are willing to look at their businesses differently and make necessary investments to green their supply chain footprint,” he noted.

For the Green Supply Chain Forum, Ryder offered some strategies on how companies can begin to reduce waste, conserve energy, improve efficiencies, and control emissions.

Warehousing and Distribution

  1. Incorporate energy conservation strategies in the warehouse to reduce reliance on greenhouse gas-producing sources by:

    • Setting targets for reduction of energy consumption, and conduct annual audits to ensure progress.

    • Using low-voltage lighting and installing motion sensors or timers on lighting systems.

    • Conducting regular facility inspections to identify opportunities to upgrade the building envelope (roofing, doors, windows, etc.).

  2. Integrate real-time inventory visibility in the warehouse to cut down on unnecessary trips and wasteful inventory obsolescence by:

    • Leveraging innovative technology to streamline and improve the accuracy of inventory levels.

    • Creating a closed-loop system for reporting and reconciling inventory levels with front-office.

  3. Optimize distribution networks for fewer trips, less idling, and lower overall delivery costs by:

    • Establishing regional distribution centers to serve customers based on demand.

    • Optimizing and consolidating routes to reduce the number of loads overall.


  1. Align inbound and outbound shipments to reduce carbon emissions with less fuel and speed cash-to-cash cycles by:

    • Connecting in real-time to customers to synchronize returns with maximized fleet use (backhauls).

    • Coordinating supplier shipments to consolidate freight costs and negotiate better rates.

  2. Automate transportation management systems by:

    • Switching to an electronic freight, bill, audit, and payment process to reduce or eliminate paper transactions.

    • Synchronizing with warehouse operations to extend efficiency.

  3. Consider a dedicated fleet solution for:

    • Controlling routes, fuel consumption, and idle time.

    • Enhancing driver training with courses that improve driving skills and performance, and teach drivers simple techniques to reduce fuel consumption.

Assets & Equipment

  1. Spec equipment to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. This includes:

    • Retiring and replacing old engines in fleets with newer, lower emission engines.

    • Configuring trailers with aerodynamic features and weight-saving designs.

    • Following guidelines provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transport program when specifying vehicles.

  2. Leverage vehicle diagnostics and other telematics-based solutions by:

    • Tapping into web-based fleet data to analyze trends in real time and recognize opportunities for increased efficiencies.

    • Monitoring for excess speed, braking, fuel usage, and idling.

    • Ensuring driver compliance with route optimization.

  3. Implement rigorous preventive maintenance to optimize fleet performance by:

    • Creating rigorous fleet maintenance schedules for even the most routine care.

    • Checking tire conditions and inflation rates every time a vehicle stops to fuel.

  4. Modify fuel sourcing strategies to reduce carbon emissions by:

    • Looking at alternative fuel sources.

    • Monitoring fuel storage tanks for leaks

Additional information on how to make a significant positive impact on the environment can be found by accessing Ryder's online Green Center at www.ryder.com/greencenter.