Supply Chain Dynamics
by Dino Lanno
Global warming, over-flowing landfills and soaring carbon dioxide
emissions—the threat of environmental damage is on everyone’s minds, including
business leaders’. While many companies have been seeking “greener” ways
of working, only within recent years has it really become prominent in
the auto glass supply chain.
Managing an environmentally sustainable business has a number of advantages
beyond caring for the world in which we live. First, it improves public
reputation. In fact, more than 88 percent of consumers think companies
should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and
the environment, according to research from Do Well Do Good, a nonprofit
organization. The study also showed that 70 percent of consumers were
willing to pay more for a product that supports a cause.
“Not only does
working ‘green’ promote your company publicly,
it often can
reduce long-term costs."
Not only does working “green” promote your company publicly, it often
can reduce long-term costs. When considering the many other variables
in the supply chain industry where costs are climbing, it’s important
to find ways to offset them. That’s why many in the industry have invested
in environmentally conscious business practices.
There is enormous variety in auto glass and parts—each with their own
packaging. The lack of standardization means fewer parts per package,
which creates the need for more packaging. With every package comes a
different label, using yet more paper and ink. And, because part number
formats are not always consistent across suppliers, this also requires
more re-labeling. Clearly, the denser the pack and the less labeling,
the more the savings will be seen in the process.
This also impacts transportation. Transporting more product on a single
tractor trailer reduces the need for additional trips, using diesel fuel
and creating carbon emissions. For example, if we can increase the number
of windshields on each tractor trailer by 100, the tenth load would ship
Reducing packaging is the first step toward improvement, followed by reuse
and recycling. To minimize waste going to a landfill, the cardboard is
sent to recycling and the wooden pallets are broken down and chipped for
mulch or used in a composting process. The nails in the pallets are captured
during the chipping process and sold as a low-end recycled metal.
Steel pallets are a newer alternative currently being tested in the industry.
With steel options, there will be one pallet that can expand or shrink
for all sizes of glass and can be used repeatedly. The only costs will
be the initial procurement and ongoing maintenance. Ways to recycle glass
and the PVB layer also are being piloted.
Some manufacturers and distributors now are using returnable crates for
shipping windshields. The crate is disassembled at the warehouse into
the different components and returned to the distribution center to be
reused. On average, we re-use a crate four to five times.
Reducing Waste Balances Costs
Most plants and warehouses are doing what they can to properly dispose
of waste and recycle or reuse what they can—but that comes at a price.
The cost of dumping and hauling is increasing. As you can imagine, it’s
not free to take a dumpster full of trash to a landfill, especially for
larger plants and warehouses. We are always looking for ways to repurpose,
recycle, eliminate or reduce wastes. We do it because it’s the right thing
to do for the environment. Processes to compact the trash as much as possible
can help reduce the number of trips to and from the landfill.
Lastly, the basic ways offices operate can have a big impact, including
recycling and re-using electronics, paper, plastic, aluminum and pens.
These are just examples of how the vehicle glass industry is becoming
greener. What can you do better? What ideas can we develop as a team?
As an industry, we must commit to the sustainability of the environment.
Until some of these alternatives are more widely embraced, the alternatives
may be costly, but they will help to ensure the future of the natural
resources we are trying to protect.
Dino Lanno is senior vice president of supply chain and manufacturing
for the Safelite Group in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Lanno’s opinions are solely
his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.