static, so taking a look at the optimal number and location of
facilities in the supply chain network is a simple best practice,
even if it takes some doing to do it right, but there is a lot of
carbon reduction that can come out of it. We are busy with a
lot of customers doing that kind of work these days.”
Moss argued that the key to success in this area is the emer-
gence of control tower technology, which helps manage the
various silos in the supply chain that are organized around
data and around visibility. “This is an area of development
that I think offers broad promise.”
The researchers agreed and added a new chapter to this
year’s report on this kind of technology. “In a world of in-
creasingly abundant information, the control tower serves as
an information hub to enable better decisions,” they said.
IBM defines a supply chain control tower as a connected,personalized dashboard of data, key business metrics andevents across the supply chain. A supply chain control towerenables organizations to more fully understand, prioritize andresolve critical issues in real time.
From a data perspective, control towers offer the necessary
IS THE LAST MILE SUSTAINABLE?
visibility by connecting systems across every aspect of the
supply chain, the report explained. “Although end-to-end vis-
ibility is a daunting feat, for most shippers, pooling the data
is only half the battle. Implementing solutions to enact re-
silience requires expertise, resources, and a network fortified
with assets—barriers that seem insurmountable to the average
shipper and carrier.”
This presents a unique opportunity for 3PLs, according to
the researchers. “For most shippers, the biggest barriers to
building and offering control tower capabilities are in building
an expansive network,” they said. “Because 3PLs have already
overcome those barriers, they are best positioned to implement
successful control towers. As the world moves toward da-
ta-driven decisions, this will become a key strategy for 3PLs.”
Managing the last mile of e-commerce transactions is aparticularly thorny issue for logisticians and is likely to remain one in the future. One challenge involves labor, Mosspointed out, because other economic players are competingfor the labor that normally would be working in warehousesand other final-mile delivery operations. “There is quite a bitof stress behind the scenes with carriers trying to navigate andkeep up with the fast growth in this segment,” he said.
The nature of last-mile delivery as it is presently operated is literally not sustainable—at a time when companies arescouring their supply chains for places where they can eliminate waste and reduce their carbon footprint, Smith believes.
“E-commerce and sustainability are not compatible,” hesaid. “The inefficiencies driven by last-mile delivery reallyhurt sustainability more than they help it. We are going tohave to balance those two in the future.” (However, othershave disagreed with this view.)
A week after the SOL report presentation, Amazon announced that its carbon footprint grew 19% in 2020, including an 18% rise in emissions from fossil fuels. The calculations included emissions totals for the Amazon Whole Foodssubsidiary. This followed the company’s report of a carbonemissions footprint increase of 15% in 2019. In September,Amazon also announced that it leased 12 additional Boeing767s for its fleet, now said to total more than 80 aircraft.
One solution that may lie ahead involves segmenting consumers in terms of differing delivery needs,Zimmerman contended. E-commerce companies already have been looking at which customers reallyrequire high levels of service, which ones are willingto wait a few days for a delivery, and how that varies.
“This is very much top of mind for shippers,”
he said. “They are working with their marketing
people and consumer surveys to see how they can
segment this service. In the meantime, the carriers
and providers are trying to get better at ‘densifying’
the delivery network to lower the cost of a delivered
package because there is no sign that this growth of
e-commerce and last-mile is abating.”
When it comes to sustainability, Smith said that
in spite of all the other pressures that have exerted
themselves on the supply chain over the past year,
3PL providers have noticed that their clients have
remained steadfastly committed to sustainability
throughout. He cited a yet-to-be released CSCMP
study where 83% of survey respondents said they
are actually in the process of accelerating their sus-
“I think this is an effort by large companies to chasedown and drive efficiencies into the business, he added.“There is a tremendous impetus for 3PLs to work withcustomers who want to be focused on sustainability.
It’s an active topic with most customers. Sustainabili-
ty is corporate responsibility, and sustainability also is
old-fashioned good business for both parties.”
Smith cited the continuing interest in electric vehicles,
eco-facilities, and practices involving improved routing, load
utilization and internal container management. “There are so
many areas where we work together on sustainability that it is
no surprise that it is top of mind today.”
Norfolk Southern’s Shaw added, “The pandemic accel-
erated a lot of trends that were already there. There will be
more positioning of inventory closer to the ultimate consum-
er. There will be more risk-aversion inventory stockouts than
there were before and a greater focus on capacity.”
He also has noticed that the railroad’s customer expectations
are now driven by their personal experiences in the consumer
world. This includes expectations of greater transparency and
visibility, sustainability, and onshoring, off-shoring and right-
shoring. “I think it will be very exciting for us because we all
will have better tools with which to do all that.” MH&L
Contributing editor David Sparkman is founding editorof ACWI Advance ( www.acwi.org), the newsletter of theAmerican Chain of Warehouses Inc., as well as a memberof the MH&L Editorial Advisory Board.
22 MHLNEWS.COM I FALL 2021Dura-Belt 800-770-2358 614-777-0295 Fax: 614-777-9448 www.durabelt.com
LONG-LIFE BELTS MOVE HEAVY LOADSWhen a competitor’s belts failed after only nine monthsservice in a large postal distribution center, Dura-Belt'sLong-Life HT belts replaced them. Nine yearslater, HT belts are still going strong -- moving your mail onconveyors that run 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
Even though some postal tubs have soft bottoms and carryover-weight loads, HT belts take the punishment and keepthe mail moving. Over 12 million are in service on pow-ered-roller conveyor systems. For longer-life and heavierloads, try time-tested HT (high tension) O-ring belts -- theonly ones colored "Post Office Blue".
100%virginurethane(noregrind waste)makesstonger, longerlasting belts.
2006MHL_Dura-Belt.indd 1 5/20/20 10:40AM
Volume 76 / No. 3 / Fall 2021
2 Summit Park, Suite 300 • Independence, OH 44131
Telephone: (234) 466-0200
Dave Blanchard • Editor-in-Chief • firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrienne Selko • Senior Editor • email@example.com
David Sparkman • Contributing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Szilagyi • Art Director • email@example.com
Travis Hessman • Group Editorial Director • firstname.lastname@example.org
John DiPaola • Managing Director • email@example.comJoe DiNardo • Associate Publisher • firstname.lastname@example.orgEAS T: Tom Lazar • (216) 533-1848 • email@example.comWES T: David Jones • (513) 860-4842 • firstname.lastname@example.org
U. K., Europe (except Germany and Italy), RODRIC LEERLING, 31 (0) 683 23 2625, email@example.com •
Japan, YOSHINORI IKEDA, 81.3.3661.6138 • Germany, Austria and Switzerland, CHRIS TIAN
HOELSCHER, 49 (0) 89 950027-78, firstname.lastname@example.org • Italy, DIEGO CASIRAGHI,
39 (0) 31 261407, email@example.com • UK, Scandiavia and Spain, S TUART PAYNE,
44 1932 564999, firstname.lastname@example.org
Endeavor Business Media, 331 54th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37209, U.S.