It used to be that adhering to such transportation best practices as cube utilization was evidence of a company's good supply chain management, and that was pretty much the end of the story. Yesterday's logistics strategies, however, are today's environmental innovations. Just ask Pat Penman, director of global environmental and safety actions at consumer products manufacturer SC Johnson & Son Inc.
Under Penman's direction, the company undertook what it calls a Truckload Utilization Project, which over a 12-month period eliminated 1,882 tons of greenhouse gases.
SC Johnson created a system that combines multiple customer orders -- and multiple products -- to optimize truckloads. After the first year of the project, the company used 2,098 fewer trucks, cut fuel usage by 168,000 gallons and saved approximately $1.6 million.
"Loading a truck may seem simple, but making sure that a truck is truly 'full' is a science," Penman explains. "Focusing on consistently hitting a trailer's maximum weight provided a huge opportunity to reduce our energy consumption, cut our greenhouse gas emissions and save money. It illustrates how innovation can drive prosperity and responsibility."
Research into SC Johnson's loading dock practices revealed that trucks weren't being filled to their maximum weight capacity. For example, a truckload full of sandwich bags typically will be far below a truck's most efficient load weight, whereas a smaller number of pallets of bottles of window cleaner will hit the maximum weight target with there still being empty space in the trailer. Based on this research, the company began strategically packing multiple products on the same load.
SC Johnson has also maximized its use of "day cabs," which are truck cabs with no sleeping compartments. Since these day cabs are 3,000 pounds lighter than a standard truck cab, using them has allowed the company to increase the amount of product it loads into a trailer before reaching the vehicle's maximum weight. Day cabs are now used for all regional one-day shipments, which has helped improve transportation efficiency.
Cube Utilization in 15 Words or Less
A measurement of the utilization of the total storage capacity of a vehicle or warehouse.
-- Kate Vitasek, Supply Chain Visions
How Good Are You At Loading a Truck?
Visit www.transportationoptimization.com/vlbgame.asp for an online game that challenges you to load the exact right amount of freight -- no more, no less -- on a truck.