Freight Forwarding & Sustainable Operations: A Digital Solution

Freight Forwarding & Sustainable Operations: A Digital Solution


The world of logistics is changing fast and increasingly in a way that's sustainable, environmentally friendly, and digitally powered. 

According to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll, nearly three-quarters of executives want to advance sustainability efforts but don’t know how to do so. Additionally, concerns about the accuracy and completeness of sustainability data persist, with executives citing quality (35%) and access to data (25%) as the top challenges ( Deloitte 2022 Sustainability Action Report).

Digital tools are leading the way to more sustainable logistics. Take big data and analytics for example, by analyzing vast amounts of data, logistics providers can identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This leads to optimized routes, reduced fuel consumption, and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also playing their parts in helping business foster green logistics practices. Enabling predictive maintenance, reducing waste and extending the lifespan of assets all contribute towards more sustainable operations. And it’s thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), that freight forwarders and shippers can access real-time monitoring and tracking of shipments, minimizing losses and delays.

Sustainability in freight forwarding also has an increasingly positive impact on the balance sheet. A study by the World Economic Forum found that companies that implement sustainable supply chain practices can increase their revenue by up to 20%.


Challenges in Implementing Digital Solutions for Sustainable Logistics

Of course, implementing digital logistics solutions isn't without its challenges. Many companies struggle with:

• High initial investment costs
• Lack of technical expertise and training
• Resistance to change from employees and stakeholders

But with proper planning, communication, and support, these challenges can be overcome. The key is to start small, set clear goals, and continuously measure and adjust your approach in order to embrace a more responsible supply chain.


Key Digital Technologies Driving Sustainable Logistics

Big Data and Analytics: By collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from various sources (such as sensors, GPS, and RFID tags), companies can gain valuable insights into their operations. This data can be used to optimize routes, predict demand, and identify potential issues before they become major problems. For example, UPS uses big data analytics to optimize its delivery routes, saving millions of gallons of fuel each year.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and ML are the brain power behind sustainable logistics. These technologies can analyze complex data sets and provide actionable insights in real-time. For instance, CARGOES Flow uses proprietary algorithms and AI-powered tools to predict transit times and identify potential disruptions in its supply chain. This allows the company to proactively adjust its operations and ensure timely deliveries.



Internet of Things (IoT): By connecting physical devices (such as vehicles, containers, and warehouses) to the internet, companies can monitor and control their assets in real-time. This enables better asset utilization, reduced downtime, and improved safety. CARGOES Flow, uses IoT sensors to monitor the environmental factors of its containers and ensure the integrity of the user’s cargo.

Blockchain Technology: This decentralized, secure ledger technology enables transparent and tamper-proof record-keeping across the supply chain. This can help reduce fraud, improve traceability, and streamline administrative processes. 


How Can Digitization Support Sustainability Goals in Freight Forwarding?

Digital tools and innovations can greatly help freight forwarding operations to become more sustainable. Usually, making any business more sustainable requires investment. 

Even if some businesses are ready to spend more on sustainable practices, the rising costs of energy, assets, and employee wages have made them more cautious about their spending.

To make smart investments, freight forwarders need an accurate analysis of their carbon footprint. Most supply chains are complex because they involve many stakeholders and logistics nodes. This complexity makes it hard to measure the sustainability impact of a business’s operations.

Utilizing the benefits of the DFA Premium membership tier is a cost-effective start, with access to five digital tools that can support freight forwarders with their logistics sustainability goals:


SeaRates ERP

An integrated software solution that streamlines various aspects of freight forwarding operations, from booking and documentation to tracking and billing. By centralizing these processes, SeaRates ERP reduces the need for paper-based documentation and manual data entry, leading to a significant reduction in paper waste as well as administrative errors.

The automation and real-time data provided by SeaRates ERP allow freight forwarders to optimize their resource allocation, improve inventory management, and enhance route planning. This comprehensive approach ensures that operations are not only more efficient but also more environmentally friendly.



CARGOES Flow is a powerful tool that provides detailed insights into the carbon emissions of freight forwarding activities. By tracking emissions across the entire supply chain, businesses can identify key areas where they can reduce their carbon footprint. Certified by the Smart Freight Center, it uses a leading calculation method that is GLEC-compliant, allowing freight forwarders access to reliable data and to make informed decisions to help them offset their carbon footprint & meet sustainability goals.

For example, by analyzing data on fuel consumption and emissions in CARGOES Flow, users can identify more fuel-efficient routes or alternative modes of transport such as rail or sea, which have lower environmental impacts compared to road transport for example. This data-driven approach helps businesses make informed decisions that align with specific sustainability goals.


Logistics Explorer

Logistics Explorer enables freight forwarders to compare different logistics options based on various parameters such as cost, transit time, and environmental impact. By providing a comprehensive overview of available options, Logistics Explorer empowers businesses to choose the most sustainable and cost-effective solutions.

For instance, freight forwarders can use Logistics Explorer to identify intermodal transport options that combine rail, road, and sea transport to reduce emissions. This holistic view of logistics options helps in optimizing the entire supply chain, making it more sustainable and efficient.


Container Tracking

A free tool to provide real-time visibility into the location and status of shipping containers. Container Tracking enhances visibility allowing freight forwarders to monitor the movement of goods, anticipate delays, and optimize logistics operations. By ensuring that containers are used efficiently and reducing idle times, container tracking helps in minimizing energy consumption and emissions. Monitoring the container events also protects the shipment integrity and security. Get tool on your website instantly.