Towards environmentally sustainable freight transport: shippers' logistics actions to improve load factor performance
The purpose of this thesis is to explain how shippers’ logistics actions contribute to environmentally sustainable freight transport, by clarifying the link between logistics activities and the resulting load factor performance. Five studies have been undertaken, which have given rise to six papers. The research applies a systems approach, comprising explanatory, descriptive and explorative research. An initial study, a literature study and case studies are performed, focusing on shippers’ outgoing goods flows. New theoretical concepts are developed, based on empirical data.
This thesis provides an overview of actions that can contribute to environmentally sustainable freight transport and links them to actors’ perceptions of their importance and to shippers’ logistics activities. It concludes that, for shippers, reducing the amount of traffic by improving the load factor is of relevance to improve their environmental performance in transport.
It is suggested that shippers’ load factor performance, defined as the ratio of the load carried (required capacity) and the maximum load that could be carried (available capacity), should be evaluated overall, as well as on each individual level (packaging and shipping). Load factor performance is a result of logistics activities related to logistics structures, order and delivery, transport operations and packaging and loading, which influence required and available capacity by creating conditions from one activity to another and for each other. To manage imbalances between required and available capacity, several logistics actions may be needed, on strategic, tactical and operational levels.
Shippers can take action in terms of changing logistics activities so that new conditions are created to support an improved load factor performance that reduces/increases or reallocates required and/or available capacity. New conditions can be created by changing which activities are performed, as well as how, when, and by whom. Shippers must collaborate both internally and externally to realise such actions, considering also influences on other parts of the system.
The results of this thesis will help shippers to determine how to improve their load factor performance, hence contributing to environmentally sustainable freight transport, specifically by 1) evaluating their current load factor performance, 2) identifying the causes of any imbalances, 3) identifying relevant actions, 4) implementing these actions, and 5) evaluating the improvements after changes have been made. This research will support logistics managers in their decision making, and add to existing green logistics research by providing details about how to evaluate the load factor, how logistics activities influence the load factor and what logistics actions a shipper can take to improve the load factor.