The transport of raw materials and end products has an important impact on a sector’s sustainability performance.
The chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry opts mainly for environmentally-friendly modes of transport (pipelines, inland waterways, maritime and rail). Road represents less than 30% of transported volumes, while water transport and pipelines are of key importance, accounting respectively for about 30% and over 25% of transported volumes.
Pipeline transportation is the safest way to transport large quantities of products while minimizing the environmental impact compared to road transportation: no road congestion, no emissions and no noise due to transportation. The development of pipeline transportation networks is one of the solutions to the challenges posed by the climate transition in terms of transportation, whether it be for the transportation of raw materials or the development of H2 or CO2 networks.
Rail transport also remains an important transport mode for the sector. Some companies do not have sufficient truck-handling capacity (loading and unloading stations) on their sites and for certain chemical products road transport is not allowed. Moreover, switching to road transport would lead to increased traffic congestion and additional CO2 emissions. The sector aims to double the volume of chemicals transported by rail by 2030.
The industry’s digital transformation is creating tremendous opportunities for improving its logistics performance. Digital technology plays a key role in creating connections, supporting collaboration and enabling extensive information-sharing. It allows companies to exchange forecasts, stock information, delivery schedules and paperwork with customers and suppliers in real time, ahead of product flows. This results in better sourcing, supply chain planning and product management and handling, which ultimately leads to improved delivery reliability, better asset utilisation and increased safety.
According to the World Economic Forum (“DTI initiative”), digitalisation in the supply chain could create USD 40-70 billion of value for the chemical industry thanks to improved procurement, reduced logistics costs, and increased efficiency in administrative supply chain functions.
The e-ECD project (digitalisation of cleaning documents) is a concrete example of such digitalisation and collaboration amongst all parties involved in the tank-cleaning process (i.e. chemical companies, logistics service providers and tank-cleaning stations). The further development of the cleaning documents towards the digitalisation of new logistics processes is also under consideration. essenscia is taking numerous initiatives to implement e-ECD among its members, in order to improve the availability and security of the supply chain.
For its part, the digital platform CargoStream aims to promote horizontal supply chain collaboration among shippers by bundling their transport needs.