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SUSTAINABLE LOGISTICS PROMOTES INNOVATION

DIALOG: Professor Bick, what is the importance of logistics in improving the eco- logical footprint? 

WB: Logistics plays a key role in the ecological balance of the value chain and the companies involved. 
The particular complexity arises from the fact that a wide variety of partners typically have an influence on the structure and processes in logistics. As a rule, no one has full and all-en- compassing access to the entire logistics net- work, to every sub-process and to every means of transport used. In addition, there are also very different local conditions depending on the extent of the network, which represents an additional challenge. 

DIALOG: What options are generally available to make logistics more sustainable? 

WB: Schematically speaking, four types of strategies can be distinguished: Avoidance, dis- placement, reduction and tempering. 
Transport kilometers can be avoided through various approaches: The use of transport plat- forms to coordinate trips, through sharing concepts, and also smart transport planning, which is increasingly taking place with the use of AI.  When relocating, the focus is on planning optimal transport routes, whereby CO2 emissions, which depend on the type of route and means of transport, must be included as a decision criterion.  In addition, greater efficiency and cleanliness of the means of transport and the use of telematics can also achieve positive contributions and reduce the emission of climate-damaging gases. After all, as an OEM, I can also reward my sup- pliers for achieving certain ecological goals. But the instrument is complex and ultimately limi- ted in its effect. Rewarding and sanctioning are therefore regulatory instruments. And companies have no direct influence on these. The decisive factor in using these levers is not methodological perfection, but a pragmatic combination of the individual approaches. 

DIALOG: The partners in the logistics chain should be included in this analysis? 

WB: Absolutely. As I said at the beginning, typically no one has full access to the network. You have to work together to achieve something. By the way, this also applies to the consolidation of data in the entire network. If this data is only available in fragments, existing potential, for example via AI, cannot be comprehensively tapped. 

DIALOG: Does the optimization of the eco- logical footprint in logistics also set impulses beyond this? 

WB: Absolutely. This becomes clear when you take the aspect of data use, for example. As mentioned, I have to integrate different systems, platforms and data models to get a valid and complete view of the entire logistics process and the corresponding ecological footprint. This also lays the foundation for the use of advanced analytics and AI solutions, and a self-learning process can be initiated that can lead to new insights. These will then not remain limited to logistics, but will have an impact on the entire value chain, on the entire life cycle of products. In this respect, I am convinced that the endeavor to make logistics more sustainable will also promote innovations at different levels.