The path to more climate-friendly operations doesn't have to be complicated, as long as you know where to start. For Ahlsell, Supply Chain and logistics became a natural starting point. In the fall of 2022, Ahlsell, one of the country's largest trading companies in HVAC, waterworks, electrical and industrial fields, entered into a collaboration with us at Kinver.
With customers all over the country, annual sales of over six billion kroner and an enormous logistics operation, they rely on efficiency to ensure their deliveries. The order from business developer Vegar Carlson at Ahlsell was crystal clear: "When we were looking for a partner to assist with data capture and processing for our logistics, it was central for us that they saw the world the way we see it. Climate and costs must go hand in hand, and customer experiences must get better, not worse," he says.With our self-developed software specially designed to increase efficiency in Supply Chain and logistics operations specifically , Ahlsell embarked on mapping its carbon footprint for its customer transports. This is the beginning of the adventure.
Our model is based on providing insight across an entire organization through a single platform for data, rather than many domain-specific ones. By collecting your data foundation in one user-friendly platform, you make valuable insights available across your entire organization. This can lead to increased motivation among employees to work more efficiently given their existing conditions.
For Ahlsell, this platform became very important when embarking on new cost-saving initiatives that would also reduce emissions. The implementation of the project consisted of three simple steps:
1. Mapping of your business activities
A correct carbon accounting system is based on the actual activities throughout your supply chain. Without comprehensive mapping of your own logistics structure, supplier behaviors, and data points throughout your supply chain, it will be difficult to form an accurate picture of total emissions. Through meetings and workshops, we put together an extensive puzzle piece activity map which ensured us a relevant dataset upon which additional analyses could be run. Which transports do you have, and what do they emit? Oftentimes there are obvious areas for improvement within transportation systems without even having to change energy sources.
A carbon accounting system that is inaccessible and laborious is also likely useless. In order to prevent reports from gathering dust or being forgotten entirely while sitting in drawers or filing cabinets, working methods must be lifted out of the analog and Excel-based world. Ahlsell's strategy was to integrate their existing data flow into our platform. This ensured daily insights into business activities rather than only providing information about last year's actions. It's always nice being able to access historical information when working towards more environmentally friendly operations. Nothing beats actionable real-time insights if you actually want to make a difference.
3. Realistic strategy based on insights
For carbon accounting to be more than just outdated statistics, it is critical to know both where you are and where you want to go. What are our emission levels this year compared to the same time last year? What measures can we implement to further reduce emissions, and who is responsible?
Here are some exercises we did with Ahlsell: Connecting action and climate:
- What effect do we get from filling our trucks better?
- Can we consolidate more and ensure fewer return transports?
- How do we ensure that more shipments reach recipients and avoid wrong deliveries?
Set KPIs within the organization so they are relevant for different functions - overarching goals are difficult to relate to.
Immediate effect of the collaboration
Together with Kinver, we have gained insight that we were nowhere near before. We can now see all our transport and outgoing logistics in a comprehensive picture, and can view climate emissions down to each individual customer as well as shipment, Carlson continues. Ahlsell has a stated goal of reducing its footprint to near zero within a short period of time, primarily through the use of advanced biofuels and electric power. Preliminary internal results suggest that Ahlsell has reduced its emissions by about 70% just in the past year. It quickly became clear that they need a good way to showcase this, where the figures are verifiable and withstand any audit."It is important for us to be able to show our customers that by doing business with Ahlsell, they are choosing an enterprise that takes emission reductions seriously. Kinver helps us with this," Carlson concludes.
The collaboration is still in its initial phase, and we look forward to working together to make climate a driving force in even more parts of the organization.
Did you catch our webinar on sustainability reporting? Elisa Gasperini, sustainability manager at Ahlsell, visited our own Per Løberg to discuss the challenges of transitioning from reporting to taking action.