Sustainability in logistics: inside and outside the factory

By Tova Levy

Podcast #4 and #5 in our new series with I-Connect007: Sustainability in Electronics Manufacturing

Logistics is a critical aspect of any manufacturing process, but it can also have a significant impact on the environment and the well-being of employees. To promote sustainability in logistics, manufacturers need to focus on reducing their carbon footprint, improving working conditions, and planning for a circular economy.

Reducing carbon footprint through better planning

The most obvious aspect of sustainability in logistics is reducing the carbon footprint of transportation. In the past, optimizing logistics focused more on reducing costs through efficiency. Now, changing the focus to carbon emissions reduction can help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact as well as their costs.

The most sustainable form of transport is the one that doesn’t happen at all; special transports happen when you don’t have enough visibility into the supply chain, so by gaining full visibility manufacturers can plan better, consolidate shipments, and avoid additional transports. Transport methods also have an impact on carbon emissions. Choosing electric vehicles over fossil-fueled trucks, or trains over trucks, can help manage the company’s carbon footprint.

Improving working conditions to make jobs sustainable

Less obvious is the human aspect of sustainability in logistics. Are current jobs or processes sustainable? Or can they cause employee burnout? By automating repetitive processes or using more digital solutions, jobs become more professionalized and purposeful, and employees can use their time more meaningfully.

Specifically in logistics, unplanned failures such as missing goods can cause stress. By implementing solutions that minimize failures, provide alerts in time, and increase maneuvering time, the working environment becomes less stressful.

Planning for a circular economy and reducing electronics waste

The circular economy is a system that aims to eliminate waste and promote the continual use of resources, and logistics can play a crucial role in achieving this goal. Logistics is typically considered a linear, one-way process, but to enable recycling and a real circular economy, manufacturers also need to plan the logistics of product returns and recycling.

Returnable packaging needs to be tracked and managed. Reclaiming materials from recycled products, which is enabled by material traceability across the entire supply chain, can also reduce waste. Manufacturers need tools to manage this.

Listen to the podcasts with Siemens logistics experts

In podcast #4, Christian Wendt of Siemens Digital Logistics, dives deep into what sustainability means in terms of logistics outside the factory, while Zac Elliott of Siemens Digital Industries Software elaborates on logistic processes inside the factory.

Listen now!

Podcast #4 with Christian Wendt

Podcast #5 with Zac Elliott

Other podcasts in the series

Listen to the full series!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at