The Green Corridor: Digitise Wisely to Reduce Emissions

The Green Corridor: Digitise Wisely to Reduce Emissions

The Green Corridor: Digitise Wisely to Reduce Emissions

by Timothy Foote, Founder of Susymbio

Digitisation in the logistics and transportation industry produces efficiency gains for nearly all players in the economy today. Efficiency generally leads to less power being used and therefore less fossil fuels being burned. That said, with our increased productivity there is also an increased volume of services being carried out. It is a balancing act that usually sees our planet losing.

We can see this most clearly with the example of airline emissions. Jet aircraft have made tremendous efficiency gains with technology over the last few decades. In tandem to this, the industry has grown exponentially to the degree that even though the efficiency per passenger kilometre has been reduced on a yearly basis, the overall emissions of the industry has increased annually on an average 2.3% from 1990 to 2019 because of the increased numbers of people flying. Only the recent global pandemic reduced airline greenhouse gas emissions however this year, we will almost definitely see an increase in travel over 2019 levels – once again increasing overall emissions.

Increased Digitisation Helps is Necessary For “Green” Skies

Digitised systems speed information and allow for more inputs to be put in place to better manage service. It allows for better tracking of cargo and people in airports, enhanced security, and enhanced safety – just to name a few. These applications translate ultimately to less down time, less distance travelled, less misrouted cargo, less idle time at the airport, and less flight time circling over the airports, waiting in line to land.

Going Digital Alone is NOT Enough Though

On January 11 this year,the antiquated computer system of the FAA had a glitch which caused 1,300 flight cancellations and over 9,000 delayed flights. The NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system had one damaged database file which shut down everything. For an industry known for its vigilance to contingency planning, this incident shed light on the fact that simply converting a legacy analogue system into a digital one is not enough. Upgrading not only the technology, but also the processes that the technology works in needed to be considered.

Asia is not immune to flight delay and cancellation incidents. Overbooking in one airline can stress other areas in an airports ecosystem like security, food and beverage or baggage handling services. Antiquated or out of sync regional traffic control systems can lead to delays and therefore unnecessary kilometres of additional flight time. Issues at one maintenance service provider can in turn impact several airline operators.

The Green Air Target of 2030

I recently did some research on the state of Airlines. I read the Global Fleet Market Forecast for 2022 – 2032 (put together by Oliver Wyman, a Marsh & McLennan company). There forecast shows that global emissions from the Airline sector should hopefully peak in 2030. It is only by that year that it is seen that improved aircraft fleet technology and the increased blend of SAF will match and start to beat the expected growth of flight carbon emissions.
A year after 2030 – one can expect the industry will be under increased scrutiny and possibly forced to decrease services if it can not reduce its carbon emissions. That could mean increased prices for services in order to suppress demand and thus the number of kilometres flown.

So for now, I would implore logistics professionals to not only work on their own internal processes, but to additionally bring critical partners into a robust digital environment. In the spirit of this months digitisation theme, some initiatives which could do this are:

1. Reduce the time circling the airport (which means less emissions). Greater digital integration with air traffic control systems, and airport ground operations is one way to do this.

2. Efforts to reduce taxiing time using the same partners as above can further reduce emissions

3. Redesign the overall delivery networks for moving cargo and passengers using other transport modes like high-speed rail (for passengers) and trucks (for cargo) from key hubs. This can reduce local flights and many kilometres

These are just 3 initiatives that Airline operators could work on with their partners, but no doubt there can be more. So please continue using new technologies to reduce emissions. By connecting smartly with partners – serious reductions can happen. So digitise wisely!

About the Author

Tim Foote runs Susymbio, a boutique consulting firm advising on e-commerce logistics solutions and sustainability program management services. Tim has held various positions with MNCs, gaining a wide knowledge and expertise in logistics operations. He crafted delivery solutions for e-commerce clients and managed supply chains for several chemical and freight forwarding companies. At DHL eCommerce’s first Asia Pacific Head of Go Green, he put in place carbon footprint management, sustainability training, illegal wildlife smuggling monitoring training, and employee engagement. Tim volunteers his free-time with the Singapore Wildcat Action Group, a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness and funds for wildlife conservation.


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