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Taking sustainability in the parcel industry to the next level

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In my role, ‘sustainability’ is routinely on the agenda – and this is positive news for both our company and the parcel industry. As a market, we must move away from treating sustainability as a buzzword and demonstrate that we are taking tangible steps in the right direction.

But think about it. What would your honest answer be if a customer asked you: “are you truly sustainable?” Happily, this is the reality facing us in today’s industry. At Vanderlande, our customers are helping us to drive our sustainable activities forward.

Changing times

The real challenge is to make such initiatives become reality. Take for example our customers, who have a focus on CO2 reduction. As logistics companies, they can upgrade their own fleets, and introduce electric cars and delivery trucks.

In this respect, they are on the right track. But to take it to the next level, their sustainability programmes must consider their entire logistics network. Which brings me back to my question at the beginning…

More than ever, we are being asked to quantify the sustainability levels of our solutions. But for me, meeting compliancy lists is only the beginning. We’re already thinking about the bigger picture and looking ahead to other relevant topics.

To create the best solutions, we too have a focus on CO2 reduction, but it’s also important to provide better ergonomic environments. This involves generating less noise and creating a better overall user experience. In this context, we have a crucial role to play as a key supplier, and we’re looking to bring our long-term vision and expertise to the table.

Our sustainable vision

Everyone understands that sustainability comes at a price, and in the end, parcel companies don’t want to diminish profits. Higher levels of sustainability should not sacrifice improved throughput rates, lower costs and better ergonomic conditions for employees.

For these reasons, our sustainable ambitions and goals are built around three pillars: people, planet and profit. Any solution we develop must help to establish a healthy and fair society, promote a circular-based economy, and respect the natural capacity of our planet.

This thinking is linked to our R&D roadmap and began a few years ago with our noise reduction competence team. Now, ‘noise reduction packages’ are available on our CROSSORTERs and POSISORTERs, and we apply sophisticated cameras to continuously analyse and subsequently improve the design of our equipment.

Energy consumption and circularity

With energy consumption, customers want to have a better understanding of how they can regulate that to a lower level. This can be achieved by using improved power supply calculations, data analytics, and business process optimisation – of which we are already in the ‘discovery’ phase.

Customers are also looking to have the next generation of motors (such as IE4) installed on their systems. That’s not as easy as it sounds, because you must learn the behaviour ratios of the motor and how it fits in the total system architecture. This is an active area of interest for us and we are already investigating new motors that surpass IE4 efficiencies.

Coupled with that, our CROSSORTERs are 80% more energy efficient than conventional cross-belt sorters, and are built using sustainable materials (Cradle-to-Cradle). And that’s not to forget the people who use our equipment. We invest significant resources in designing systems to match their movements and cognitive abilities.

For me, circularity is about reducing waste through data and preventive maintenance. This can also be connected to any life-cycle plan and we use reporting tools that use system data to optimise and minimise waste. By gaining a better understanding of how the system is used, maintenance activities can be planned to keep it performing optimally.

The full package

Without question, Vanderlande’s core purpose will remain solution-based and revolve around the types of technologies we deliver. However, sustainability also means safeguarding the profitability levels of our customers and contributing to their total strategic programmes.

By delivering in a number of key areas, this is what I consider to constitute ‘best-in-class’ solutions. This is where Vanderlande differentiates itself, ensuring that our customers stay ahead of the curve.

Part of the journey

Sustainability is a choice, but it doesn’t start and stop with planting trees and offsetting CO2. Being sustainable is about delivering the best-in-class solutions our customers need to remain competitive, while aligning that with our own vision on people, planet and profit.

It’s a difficult balancing act and there is inherent complexity. For now, our focus is on thinking two steps ahead for the benefit of the market. My ambition is that from the vision we have, we can in turn, also encourage our own suppliers to be a part of this journey.


Rob Qualm

Postal and Parcel Market Director

October 23, 2020

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