22 Aug RedPrairie looks to reduce environmental impact of supply chains
Waukesha, Wis. – When it comes to driving the green movement in corporate America, perhaps the most logical place to start is a company that helps clients monitor their supply chains and warehouses.
Think of them as the hub in a wheel, with spokes extending to employees and customers alike. Their potential impact on the green movement, as well as their own business standing, expands each time they help a client company adopt environmentally friendly practices.
As it moves to reduce the environmental impact of supply chains, RedPrairie Corp. has more than altruism in mind. The Waukesha-based company, which develops supply chain management and logistics software, has several bottom line reasons for becoming the latest member of the corporate world to “go green.”
Advocates of corporate greening cite a number of benefits, but RedPrairie will develop green supply chains for internal and external reasons.
“I think we are in a good position as a company to not only be able to leverage our solutions to our customers to help them reduce their environmental impact, but also to be in the forefront of internal programs for our own facilities, employees, and their homes,” said James Hoefflin, executive vice president of RedPrairie.
RedPrairie’s attempt to create more environmentally sustainable supply chains is no small undertaking. In the past decade, the company has grown to 400 employees and nearly $75 million in annual sales. With an integrated suite of solutions provided on service-oriented architecture, RedPrairie provides services to 25,000 sites worldwide for some of the world’s largest companies.
The green initiative is based on technologies that already are promoting fuel conservation among logistics companies, transportation firms, consumer goods companies, and retailers. Customer benefits include improved routing and consolidation, and RedPrairie estimates that it can save clients 10 to 15 percent in miles driven and reduce truck idling by 30 percent. The latter helps customers comply with new laws that limit the amount of time a vehicle can idle.
RedPrairie already is helping companies cut diesel fuel use and reduce warehouse waste, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Environmental Protection Agency has selected RedPrairie for its SmartWay Transport Partnership, which was established to improve the efficiency of ground freight transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The fact that RedPrairie has jumped aboard the green bandwagon might shock some, especially given the conservative economic principles – especially lower taxes – espoused by president and CEO John Jazwiec. Last year, in an address before the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin, he called for a 50 percent cut in state income taxes, partly to help technology companies like RedPrairie attract executive talent and other members of the creative class.
Many conservatives are skeptical about global warming, but Jazwiec has committed RedPrairie to a green strategy with the goal of significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption. The company estimates that if every driver in a fleet of 50 trucks saved just five miles a day through optimized routing and planning, about 1.5 million pounds of CO2 would never enter the atmosphere.
That reduced carbon footprint – and the accompanying cost savings – are the motivations behind RedPrairie’s green initiative, and Jazwiec’s benediction is more proof that green is no longer the sole province of corporate mavericks. No less than Sony, General Electric, and DuPont have embraced the green movement, and overall business interest has the look of a viral phenomenon.
“John is very enthusiastic and supportive of it,” Hoefflin said. “I think that people fall all over the spectrum of where they think global warming is or isn’t, but at this point, in this day and age, I find it hard to believe that anybody doesn’t believe that there are substantial impacts to the environment.”
The mainstreaming of the green movement, which boils down to reducing energy consumption, reminds some environmentalists of the evolution that occurred 15 years ago with solid waste and recycling, according to Joyce Harms, communications director for Clean Wisconsin, formerly known as Wisconsin Environmental Decade.
That movement was largely driven by the controversy over the garbage barge that seemed to float endlessly – at enormous cost to taxpayers – in and around New York waterways. This time, global warming and the latest energy price shock are the environmental and economic threats that have convinced businesses that environmental protection is in the best interest of their bottom lines.
“I don’t know if it’s peer pressure so much as competition regarding who is the best business person in terms of making the best use of available resources,” Harms said. “Companies are getting smarter about being creative in using renewable resources.”
Bryan Chan, president of Madison’s SupraNet Communications, is working to create a model for the greening of information technology by developing a green data center that will take advantage of Wisconsin’s chilly climate, rather than power-consuming air conditioning, to cool the data center’s hot spots. Chan views corporate greening not as a trend but as a full-fledged movement in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Using Sony as an example, Chan also cited business expense as a reason for embracing the green movement. “Sony learned this the hard way when its shipment of PlayStations was seized in the Netherlands due to Cadmium wires a supplier had used in the controllers,” he said. “This represented a $110 million (Euro) loss for Sony.”
Red Prairie views green supply chains as a business best practice, and Hoefflin said the company is well positioned with internal applications to help customers with their own green strategies.
“I think it is not just simply a fad, but it is more of a shift in the corporate business community for companies to say, `We are going to have to create a more positive impact, or lessen the negative impact on the environment,’” Hoefflin stated. “There are ways to do it, and people get passionate about it.”
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