Energy-efficient Logistics

A plan for holistic qualification in the transport and logistics sector

Ranking third behind the automotive and healthcare industries, logistics is now among the most important economic sectors in Germany. In terms of energy efficiency and sustainability, however, activities within the sector show plenty of room for improvement. That’s what makes the appropriate qualifications, especially in this area, both necessary and inevitable. In light of this, the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Logistics and Sustainability is now contributing its expertise to the “Energy Efficiency: Logistics” initiative of the German National Environment Foundation (German: Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt – DBU).

Recent developments in climate change and globalization reveal a need to give energy efficiency a higher priority in the transport and logistics sectors. In the future, sustainable thinking should become so widespread within the industry that it is more highly valued and perceived as a natural element of daily business. The transport and logistics sectors currently reduce these two important principles to “green logistics”, with relatively little consideration of the social aspects involved. What’s more, these sectors are currently focusing primarily on measuring CO2 footprints. But the most significant aspect isn’t pure measurement, but rather keeping an eye on social and environmentally relevant factors.

“Energy efficiency: Logistics” – that’s the name of an initiative sponsored by the DBU, which also calls on the expertise of the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Logistics and Sustainability in Sinsheim. The project focuses on helping trainers, instructors and trainees become qualified to improve energy efficiency within the transport and logistics sectors. The initiative uses a holistic approach to reach its objective of both sparking interest among trainees and carrying out qualification measures for company trainers and teachers at vocational schools. This concept serves to guarantee that affected parties from vocational schools and businesses possess the skills set necessary to implement sustainable development strategies in the short and long term. In addition, it hopes to raise awareness of sustainability issues among emerging specialists. Through a number of different qualification measures, the initiative will meet the demands for sustainable development at both a business and an academic level.

“We have continued to notice high potential for development in the areas of energy efficiency and sustainability within the transport and logistics sectors, especially on the employee level. We have to take first steps towards tapping into this potential and back this up with constant support,” says Jens-Jochen Roth, project initiator and director of the Steinbeis Innovation Center.

The initiative’s central issue is sustainability, a topic it strives to anchor into the minds of participants. The implementation activities, therefore, are oriented closely around the three pillars of sustainability to form qualification triangles during the knowledge transfer process. Each of these consists of one trainee, trainer and instructor. Together, the three form what is called a “sustainability team”. These teams will not just receive abridged information on sustainable thinking, but also benefit from insights into the complete spectrum of environmental actions. Basic and more advanced modules form the source of the knowledge transfer. While sustainability, environmental protection in business, environmental financial management and social aspects are the focus of the basic modules, the more advanced modules touch on concrete issues such as energy efficient logistics networks, innovative rail logistics, electromobility, etc. Through this high-power network of cooperation, the business trainers and instructors from participating vocational schools will develop concrete sustainability strategies to serve as models for future projects to the same end.

Five vocational schools and five small to medium-sized logistics companies in Germany are taking part in this initiative.

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