Reducing the environmental impact of operations has become a high priority for businesses in line with the recent guidelines and targets set by the EU; There must be a shared commitment of the labour market and the growing sensibility of customers around environmental issues.
In this context, companies are currently asked to adopt and implement strategies and tools in order to manage all their operations, both internal and external, in a greener way.
In particular, “external operations” comprise of all of the processes related to the interaction between the business itself and the suppliers, as well as the customers. Therefore, “green external operations management” can be seen as a combination of logistics and supply chain management in terms of cost savings/profits maximisation and environmental impact minimisation.
Routes and truck load optimisation, usage of green fuels, implementation of new distribution systems (cross docking, direct shipping or warehousing) and the definition of proper warehousing techniques (lot for lot, periodic order quantity, fixed order quantity, etc.) are typical examples of strategies that businesses can undertake to better manage transportation and warehousing processes.
Although they are promising, implementing these strategies underline a strong complexity due to the need to analyse in depth and, eventually, to re-think the entire external supply chain of a company.
Therefore, “green external operations management” represents a crucial challenge for decision-makers to design sustainable supply chains.