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There’s opportunity in tackling environmental problems (October 01, 2008)

TORONTO, Ont. -- The freight transportation industry's sizeable carbon footprint presents both a pressing issue and...

TORONTO, Ont. — The freight transportation industry’s sizeable carbon footprint presents both a pressing issue and an opportunity, Gary Whicker, senior vice president of engineering services at J.B. Hunt Transport told the Same RoadsNew Challenges Conference today.

“If you’re a carrier and operating at 5 mpg, 6 mpg or 7 mpg as fuel prices go up, the differences in your operation will get bigger. If you’re operating at 7 mpg you’re going to be increasingly at a competitive advantage,” said Whicker.

The conference, which continues tomorrow, is being held by the SmartWay Transport Partnership in coordination with several industry groups. It is bringing a host of carriers and shippers together to discuss the challenges, costs and benefits of their green plans.

Whicker suggested the first step to reducing a company’s carbon footprint is to figure out how much carbon is produced by its operations and then identify possible improvements. But he cautioned that how the problem is defined is critical. For example, if the focus is solely on defining how to improve mpg you may be missing opportunities such as those to be gaining by looking at how to also increase payload by mpg.

Whicker advised there are four areas for shippers to attack in reducing their carbon footpint:

1.eliminate miles through network realignment and route optimization;
2.increase payload by maximizing cube and/or weight on every shipment;
3.convert to the energy efficient, cost-effective modes
4.use the most efficient carriers

For carriers adapting more green solutions, Whicker stressed financial responsibility.

“You can do the math and build the business case but you still have to sell it. It does not get done if the economics are not sustainable,” he said.

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