Sustainability is a very topical issue in logistics. inTime is pursuing a strategy that is intended to pay towards a sustainable future: Why is this so important for the company?
Many aspects play a role here. As a logistics company, we generate emissions in the provision of our services, and of course we cannot completely prevent them from now on. But we are trying to find ways to achieve improvements in processes and thus the continuous reduction of emissions. Because one thing is clear to us: we want to make our contribution to achieving set climate targets. Not only because society demands and politics regulates them, but because we want to be part of the opportunity that change brings with it. Many of our customers see it that way, too. They are spelling out sustainability in the requirements for our services or informing themselves about our approach. Our employees want to be part of a company that has a sense for change. That is why we developed a strategy some time ago to approach change in a planned way. Not only as an individual company, but also with our partners and as part of our parent company, the South African Super Group.
Can you outline which different building blocks are part of this strategy?
Saving energy is an essential part that has a direct influence on CO2 emissions. The biggest adjustment screw for this is in our vehicle fleet. Therefore, we focus on investing further in our own assets in the fleet. These include modern diesel tractor units with Euro 6, which we have been integrating for several years and whose consumption we can monitor ourselves in fleet controlling. We see great potential for saving CO2 emissions in the corresponding driver assistance systems and in the further training of our teams behind the wheel in energy-efficient driving. This also includes investing in alternative drive systems in the future. We have already converted some of our passenger cars to hybrid vehicles and are expanding the charging infrastructure at our branches. Since 2021, we have been using green electricity at all our locations and are also eco-certified in this issue. We currently build two photovoltaic systems on the transshipment hall and the office building at the company headquarters, each of which will generate 99 KW at peak. We feed this energy in the operations at the site and into our charging infrastructure for our e-cars, which should also guarantee the charging of further vehicles in the future. Additionally we convert our building systems to LED lighting. But each individual can change procedures in its daily business – not to print an email or switch off the light in the office. Long-term, this will bring us closer to zero emissions. For the time being, however, it will not be possible to go completely without emissions in the transport industry. That's why we support the global initiative Justdiggit, which initiates re-greening projects in Africa.
What goals has inTime set for itself? How will the results be monitored?
Our goal is continuous improvement in energy consumption. An important tool here is the measurement of consumption values and documentation of key figures. In the area of environmental and energy management, we have been certified according to ISO 14001 and 50001 for many years. Here we record consumption from diesel to electricity to gas and water and can thus show a development. Especially because these are not stand-alone figures, but we can put them in relation to vehicle categories and distances travelled. ISO 50001 provides for something similar with electricity consumption, for example - here, too, energy-related performance values are required. We continuously report the recorded values into a sustainability system of the Super Group, which has also been focusing more on sustainability for some time. The drive to keep improving here is naturally there, especially since we also have ambitious partners in Supply Chain Europe. In a further step, we prove to our customers with figures what we can show in the sector of energy consumption and where there is potential. Customers request this transparency and our expertise or ask for evaluations of our sustainability concepts, such as a rating from EcoVadis. Here we have achieved bronze status, above the average for our industry.
What expectations do customers have here?
In recent months, the sensitivity of customers has become much stronger. In addition to the price factor, expectations of sustainability in the business relationship are playing an increasingly important role. They don't just want to see figures, but also to be told about our assessments of these factors. This again shows the necessity of keeping an eye on the entire supply chain when it comes to sustainability. Companies are developing strong principles for sustainable responsibility for themselves. They themselves do not have access to the data collected by affiliated service providers. We are talking about Scope 3 here, so data exchange is fundamental for innovative development. The fact that we as service providers are transparent is also increasingly becoming a prerequisite for gaining access to tenders. On the other hand, we as a company must aggressively stand up for the fact that sustainable transports cost a certain price.
What will a sustainable supply chain look like in the medium and long term?
Such assessments are always a look into a crystal ball. However, we can predict in a certain way where the things we have initiated today in industry, trade, logistics and society will lead us. New technologies will be in the foreground, for example in the area of alternative drives. However, the question of which technology can be used in which form of transport and is economically viable will always play a role. Ideas for the last mile are prominent examples, with concepts of micro warehousing and delivery via e-trucks. The degree of digitalisation will continue to increase. Small and medium-sized enterprises will also have to take innovative steps - for example in the area of storage technology and transport organisation - in order to be able to participate in the market at all.
"About Vera Rietmann"
Vera Rietmann has been with inTime for ten years. After graduating with a master's degree, she started as a trainee in the company. Her first station was Controlling. This was followed by other areas of the company up to quality management. Since March 2021, she has been responsible for quality, environmental and energy management as well as data protection.