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Centralised distribution systems and the environment: how increased transport work can decrease the environmental impact of logistics
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8554-0687
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Logistics, ISSN 1367-5567, E-ISSN 1469-848X, Vol. 11, no 3, 229-245 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions stemming from transport within a distribution system are generally acknowledged to increase as the system is centralised, since transport work is increased owing to such a change. At the same time, this type of centralisation creates new opportunities to make changes in the system that are not viable in a decentralised distribution system; changes that can decrease CO2 emissions at the same time as the provision of cost-efficient customer service is not affected negatively. Based on an extensive literature review as well as case studies, the paper discusses and illustrates the circumstances under which it is possible to achieve such simultaneous improvements in the performance of a distribution system. Paramount in achieving concurrent positive results in terms of cost, service, and environmental impact is an understanding of what drives and affects the performance of the system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2008. Vol. 11, no 3, 229-245 p.
Keyword [en]
Logistics, distribution system, centralisation, environmental impact, CO2 emissions, System characteristics
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-15388DOI: 10.1080/13675560701628919ISI: 000271445800004OAI: diva2:114088
Available from: 2008-11-05 Created: 2008-11-05 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards CO2 efficient centralised distribution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards CO2 efficient centralised distribution
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation treats a topic that has received increasing attention as of late, namely that of the environment and in particular increasing levels of CO2 emissions caused by transport. The aim of the dissertation is to explain how a shipper, through various measures, can reduce transport-related CO2 emissions when centralising a distribution system and how this affects the provision of cost efficient customer service. Earlier research has stated that this type of structural change is considered unfavourable from an environmental viewpoint as it increases the amount of transport work generated by the system and thereby transport-related CO2 emissions. The argument that is made in this dissertation, however, is that transport work is only one aspect to consider when evaluating how transport-related CO2 emissions are affected by this type of structural change. The reason for this being that a change in structure and management of the same can enable a shipper to make other changes within the distribution system that can prove beneficial from an environmental perspective as they decrease the amount of CO2 emissions per tonne kilometre.

Theoretically, the dissertation has its foundation in two different areas in logistics research. The first area concerns logistics and the environment, where the frame of reference examines measures discussed in previous research with reference to how a shipper can reduce CO2 emissions related to transport. The second area treated in the frame of reference concerns how costs and service are affected by the structural change of centralising a distribution system and how this relates to the measures discussed in the first part of the framework.

From a methodological viewpoint, the dissertation is based on case studies. These are presented in four appended manuscripts (a licentiate thesis and three papers), where the results of these studies are used as empirical input for the synthesising analysis that is led in the dissertation.

A key deliverable from the research presented in this dissertation is a classification of measures that increase transport-related CO2 emissions and measures that decrease transport-related CO2 emissions when a distribution system is centralised. By presenting this classification, the dissertation extends previous research on the environmental impact of various logistics strategies, where centralised distribution is an example of such a strategy. With regards to this classification, it is concluded that a shipper that seeks to centralise its distribution system in a more CO2 efficient manner will aim to identify a structural configuration that minimises the increase in transport work. This is imperative as there is a close link between transport work and CO2 emissions. Hence, a CO2 efficient centralised distribution system will include more central warehouses than that advocated by earlier research on centralised distribution. This in turn implies that a shipper may not reach the full potential in economies of scale as advocated in earlier research. However, such a configuration will simultaneously lead to less transport work, whereby a shipper will be able to offset the increase in transport work by employing measures that decrease the amount of transport-related CO2 emissions per amount of transport work. The results also indicate that in addition to reducing transport-related CO2 emissions, some of these measures come with a cost incentive. By employing such measures, a shipper can come to compensate for the potential loss in economies of scale caused by employing a structural configuration that seeks to minimise the increase in transport work rather than to maximise economies of scale. By this means, the dissertation contributes to research on centralised distribution by considering how a reduction in transport-related CO2 emissions is interrelated with the provision of cost efficient customer service.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2008. 136 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1220
CO2 emissions, Centralised distribution, Structural change, Shipper, Transport, Trade-off, Interrelationship
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-15399 (URN)978-91-7393-772-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-11-27, ACAS, hus A, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2008-11-06 Created: 2008-11-06 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved

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