Environmental concerns when purchasing freight transport
Doctoral thesis, 2016
Companies that purchase freight transport (shippers) influence the conditions for how transport providers can execute the transport, which in turn influences CO2 emissions. The conditions can be influenced both by shippers’ purchasing processes for freight transport and when shippers prepare goods for delivery. For shippers to make appropriate decisions aimed at reducing the CO2 emissions from their transport, clarification of such influences on the conditions are necessary. The purpose of this thesis is to clarify how shippers can influence CO2 emissions from the freight transport they purchase.
This thesis is a compilation of seven papers, six of which are based on empirical data from five multiple-case studies. The data collection mainly consisted of semi-structured interviews with shippers’ logistics, transport, and purchasing managers, as well as with staff in operational positions; one study also conducted interviews with transport providers. The seventh paper reports on a structured literature review of load factor. Together these studies answer four research questions.
The first research question is concerned with how contextual factors influence shippers’ freight-transport-purchasing processes. The results describe the purchasing process in contexts that vary in service type, purchase situation, and relationship.
The second research question examines how shippers’ freight-transport-purchasing processes influence various logistical variables (mode of transport used, handling factor, length of haul, load factor, empty running, fuel efficiency, and carbon in fuel). The causes of different influences on logistical variables (such as specified time requirements) are clarified by answering this question.
The third research question concerns how shippers can identify and evaluate opportunities to increase their load factors. Achieving high load factors is a matter of balancing required and available capacity at the packaging, shipping, and vehicle levels. A framework of opportunities describes how these capacities can be increased, decreased, and reallocated, thus allowing for the identification and comparison of relevant opportunities.
The fourth research question is concerned with how shippers’ internal coordination may enable high load factor. The use of coordination mechanisms is described in situations that differ in terms of dependence between activities, number of activities, and the need for intra- or interfunctional coordination.
The results contribute to green-logistics research in terms of improving load factor and the purchasing of freight transport. Different research streams and perspectives – especially in terms of purchasing, transport, and coordination – have been combined in this thesis. The results contribute to improving the environmental performance of freight transport by clarifying shippers’ influence on the CO2 emissions of the transport they purchase via descriptions of the shippers’ influence over logistical variables (including load factor) that in turn influence CO2 emissions.