Energy and raw materials form the fundamental basis for the producing economy and for a consuming society. The competitiveness of manufacturing companies is closely linked to the availability of and demand for energy and raw materials. Declining reserves of fossil fuels, a worldwide increase in energy demand and an equally sharp rise in global demand for fossil and renewable raw materials are increasingly presenting companies with economic challenges.

In recent years, companies have begun to rethink their approach, and ecological goals are being anchored in corporate strategies. In the process, companies are not only looking at the energy efficiency of the goods they produce, but also at the energy efficiency potential of their value-adding activities in production and logistics.

Today we have listed for you the ten potentials and challenges in taking energy efficiency into account as a planning target in the design of production and logistics networks.

1. early planning holds high savings potentials

Consider the topic of energy efficiency already during the design or planning of a redesign of value networks. For example, the choice of location, volume allocation, selection of supply strategies and determination of transport modes have a decisive influence on your energy efficiency. Here, the decisive parameters with the greatest impact on energy efficiency can be influenced.

2. Energy efficiency – a strategic issue

At what cost and how energy efficient a product can be produced and transported in the network depends on the quality of your planning, the consideration of the key parameters and their integration into the strategic and tactical network planning. If energy efficiency becomes an essential and strategic target and is planned in detail accordingly, costs can be saved. target

Your company should adequately consider energy efficiency as a further target variable in addition to the classic performance and cost variables. For this purpose, employees must be trained accordingly.

4. evaluation of energy efficiency

Once the decision has been made to make your production and logistics network energy-efficient, you are often faced with the question of which methods and concepts for evaluating energy efficiency are now appropriate. There are approaches that are unsuitable for practical use, but some of these are very complex. It is a good idea to enter into an exchange with researchers and work together to find the ideal approach for your company.

5. Cross-company

Energy efficiency is a cross-cutting issue and should be taken into account along the entire planning process across all planning levels down to the store floor. Dissolve classic departmental thinking. This supports your company in end-to-end planning and favors a process orientation.

6.low prioritization of energy efficiency on the part of companies

Often, the topic of sustainability and energy efficiency is given a lower priority. Classic economic aspects such as sales, revenues, costs, performance, etc. are usually in the foreground when planning and designing production networks. Energy saving potentials are only considered when they have a significant impact on costs. This fact makes an energy-efficient approach across the entire network difficult. Someone has to make the start. Set a good example – for the good of our society.

7. improve corporate image

Sustainability awareness has increased in recent years, both overall and among your customers. Taking energy aspects into account enhances your corporate image, strengthens your social responsibility and thus customer loyalty.

8. lack of transparency in supply chains

Energy efficiency does not stop at the front door. Even better, take a cross-network approach. The lack of transparency in the supply chain, will present you with a challenge. Most companies know their direct suppliers, but when it comes to upstream suppliers, i.e. the supplier before their own suppliers, the information situation looks quite different. This is where the approach of overarching networking, digitization across the entire value chain, will provide support in the medium term.

9 . Insufficient data basis

There is often no data or only poor quality data for upstream suppliers. This effect is all the more serious the further back down the value chain one goes. This circumstance makes it difficult to evaluate energy-specific aspects and design an energy-efficient value chain. New tracking methods or smart contracts can help.

10. intransparency in product composition

For the time being, one challenge remains: if you do not know all suppliers, it will also be difficult to trace the product composition. While each company provides clear specifications regarding supplier parts, these specifications do not cover material composition. Thus, it is often not apparent to your company what materials were used in manufacturing and, more importantly, where those materials came from.

Our Experts

Andreas Günter
Fraunhofer-Institut für
Materialfluss und Logistik
Lea Vliegen
Fraunnofer-Institut für Materialfluss und Logsitik