Magazine article New Zealand Management

Lean, Green and Productive; How Does a Company Whose Global Logistics Business Is Heavily Transport Based Shrink Its Global Footprint by 30 Percent? Why Is One Small New Zealand Local Council Investing $0.7 Million in a "Systems Thinking" Approach to Reducing Its Rates Bills? All This and More Was Revealed at the Recent NZ Organisation for Quality Conference

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Lean, Green and Productive; How Does a Company Whose Global Logistics Business Is Heavily Transport Based Shrink Its Global Footprint by 30 Percent? Why Is One Small New Zealand Local Council Investing $0.7 Million in a "Systems Thinking" Approach to Reducing Its Rates Bills? All This and More Was Revealed at the Recent NZ Organisation for Quality Conference

Article excerpt

Byline: Vicki Jayne

In tough economic times, the drive to business excellence is more important than ever -- a reality highlighted by the line-up of local and international speakers at last month's Learn-Share-Grow conference in Queenstown.

At what was billed as the first carbon neutral-certified event of its kind in New Zealand, the message was all about how to think leaner, be greener and become more productive -- and there was plenty of information as to how various organisations had done just that.

Amongst the key speakers was Roland Jahnke, director of Deutsche Post World Net (including DHL) which, with a workforce of over half a million is engaged in just about every country in the world. It is also the first such company to set a measurable goal to reduce its carbon footprint 30 percent by 2020 for each mailed letter, transported container and square metre of space used.

Stakeholder engagement is very much part of the rationale behind the company's move -- and the push is coming from consumers and customers who have their own climate goals as well as from shareholders and the wider society, says Jahnke. "Our carbon footprint is something we cannot ignore."

The company is a major player in the transport sector which, according to the UN, accounts for about 26 percent of the world's annual energy usage. It operates one of the world's largest private plane fleets, handles the shipment of around 2.8 million containers a year and utilises over 120,000 vehicles and trailers. It also offers an exemplar for Kiwi exporters wanting to minimise their own transport costs -- and reduce their carbon footprint.

The company has already reduced its plane fleet, optimising aircraft routes and replacing its 120,000-strong vehicle fleet with more fuel-efficient options. It is also planning to utilise new, more environmentally friendly planes in the near future. But the GoGreen initiative can only be achieved by getting buy-in from staff, says Jahnke. When they were asked for input in April this year, company employees came up with 11,000 suggestions for green initiatives, says Jahnke.

Employees want to give and with this move to reduce our carbon footprint, we are also doing something they can be proud to be a part of."

Jahnke outlined the company's transformative stages from the "big bang" of postal reform in 1989 when it started its journey from obsolete production processes in historic buildings to "No. 1" worldwide in logistics by 2005. It then focused on moving from "biggest" to "best" - introducing its First Choice (for customers) programme and empowering its employees to improve quality and productivity toward world-class performance. The principle of sustainability, which is part of an overall 'corporate social responsibility' programme, has played a key role, said Jahnke.

He emphasises the need to not approach "sustainability" as a separate issue but to look at it as part of an holistic approach alongside economic and social goals. On the latter, Deutsche Post uses its logistics expertise and worldwide network to provide disaster relief and prevention -- in tsunami-devastated Indonesia and working with UNICEF to cut malaria deaths in Kenya.

Innovation both in product and process will play a big part in reaching the company's carbon reduction goal, says Jahnke.

Our focus is really clear -- to become sustainable -- and if a project makes sense then we will do it; if innovation makes sense, then we will push money at it. …

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