Supply Chain Requirements: Transportation

Sector Name: Transportation

SIC Code: 48-49


Major Players


  • Rail: CSX, Norfolk Southern, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, Union Pacific
  • Truck: UPS, J.B Hunt, U-Haul, Atlas
  • Shipping: NYK, Evergreen Marine Corporation, Maersk, COSCO
  • Air: FedEx, UPS, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines


NOTE: The Environmental Help Desk will be releasing supply chain information for each of the four categories associated with the Transportation sector over the next four weeks.


Major Issues

One of the most concerning issues is reducing emissions associated with the use of the different forms of transportation. While trying to lower emissions, the transportation sector must account for the volatility of fuel prices and the investment associated with vehicle purchasing, use, upgrades, and maintenance. Another issue is that the large amount of energy the transportation industry uses creates a reliance on fuel. In addition, many forms of transportation create a high level of noise, which is regulated.


Key Requirements

Transportation companies must comply with a variety of regulations associated with managing equipment and employee logistics, labor work issues, and employee health. These may involve:

  • vehicle registration renewal dates
  • drivers’ expiring licenses
  • outdated certifications for machine operators
  • internal training schedules
  • adhering to US Department of Transportation work hour regulations
  • collecting actual time worked for mobile or offsite employees
  • complexities with union labor contracts and pay rules
  • long term impacts of inactivity
  • elevated levels of chemical exposure

Most companies have a Code of Conduct having Environmental Compliance and Safety requirements to operate accordingly to protect the environment and human health and safety. They also have procurement standards that look at the total cost of ownership (such as the quality, service, administration, and price) and documentation of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In addition, the NAICS has formulated standards for Transportation and Warehousing  small businesses.


Key Certifications



Getting Started

  • Convert any paper inventory and tracking into a comprehensive and easily accessible digital format
  • Buy supplies in bulk as much as possible and allow for backhaul or return shipping to prevent deadweight hauling
  • Understand and case study how leading businesses reached their goals of sustainable development
  • Switch to most efficient fuel for current fleet
  • Replace equipment with high efficiency versions, such as LED light bulbs


Going Further

  • Form consortiums with similar local businesses to provide transportation leverage
  • Analyze the energy consumption statement and find out feasible incentives to encourage employee engagement and green practices enactment
  • Use smart in-time routing technology to reduce vehicle miles traveled


Advanced Steps

  • Find and analyze any common supply patterns and try to aggregate sources
  • Consider strategies including future performance improvement, tactical investments, innovation, sustainability risk management, redefining value and collaboration with big companies
  • Participate in carbon offset programs or other environmental offset programs to neutralize environmental impacts


Best Practices Leaders

Union Pacific: Deployed more than 160 Genset Switcher locomotives, each reducing air emissions by 80-90 percent from previous models


CSX: Recycling program collecting scrap metal (from old locomotives, rail cars, and rails), batteries (in locomotives and signal operations), and used oil for heating their facilities



The technology of towing ships using a wind-powered kite can reduce fuel use for small to large ships that are usually powered by burning oil by 10-35 percent, which will also reduce greenhouse gas emission. SkySails rely on computers and sensors that detect wind direction and strength to determine the most effective way to capture wind power.


NYK line

The M/V Auriga Leader, now docked at the port of Long Beach in California, recently unveiled an impressive array of 328 solar panels that will power the ship’s main electrical grid, making this the first ocean liner to be propelled in part by the sun’s rays. Energy from 328 panels is helping to power the ship’s thrusters, hydraulics and steering gear, providing about 10 percent of the ship’s total electricity usage,



With some of the most rigorous business standards, UPS’s environmental initiatives include the efforts to improve its sustainability practices with respect to aircraft fleet and airport/aircraft operation, such as adding more fuel-efficient aircraft into aircraft fleet, substituting fuel-powered auxiliary power units with electricity ones, and implementing Continuous Descent Arrivals (CDA).


UPS already operates over 2,500 vehicles using alternative fuels and advanced technologies and improves fuel efficiency through selecting trucks for the route they will receive the best fuel efficiency, avoiding left turns, and improved stops per mile.  Using telematics and routing technology has reduced vehicle miles traveled by loading vehicles efficiently for delivery, routing and re-routing drivers based on the least amount of time and miles traveled using their On Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) system, and allocating pick up and delivery times to minimize trips through UPS Smart Pickup



FedEx works with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to assess fuel use and identify potential savings. Such cooperation and other reviews comprise FedEx Fuel Sense program, whose target is to significantly reduce emissions and fuel use from aircraft fleet. In addition, FedEx has been making efforts to reduce the noise level of aircraft, for example, through developing a proprietary noise reduction kit (“hush kit”) for Boeing 727s


J.B. Hunt

Minimizes their miles traveled by reducing empty miles traveled and choosing the most direct path to their destination. In addition, J.B. Hunt reduces idling time through auxiliary power units and using radio frequency identification methods to avoid weigh stations and toll booths. Lowers Fuel use through training drivers, aerodynamic body moldings, governing top speeds



The personal moving giant, U-Haul’s business model based on a truck-sharing model, with over 15,00 locations across the U.S. and Canada, to save fuel and reduce emissions associated with transporting empty trucks back to the pick-up location.  U-Haul trucks are designed to minimize drag, including features such as rounded corners, low profiles, and advanced chassis skirts.  It equips all trucks with a “fuel economy gauge” to encourage drivers to stay within the best speed range for fuel economy


Key Resources


Transportation Environmental Resource Center

  • Find information on environmental regulations that affect the transportation sector, tips on how to comply, best practice solutions that help the environment and save money, and links to other resources


Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program

  • Provides training, technical assistance, and support targets set by state, local, regional governments


Travel Model Improvement Program

  • Free online resource that provides research and provision of technical assistance and training to local, regional, and state transportation planning professionals by improving travel analysis technologies, simulations, and practices.  More information on TMIP can be found through the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Transportation.


EPA SmartWay

  • FLEET Tools – Data collection, evaluation, and guidance tool
  • Finance Program – Vehicle equipment owners can contact NGOs and local governments, who have been awarded grants through this program, to receive financial incentives
  • National Clean Diesel Campaign – Promotes clean air strategies by working with to reduce diesel emissions, including a Diesel Emissions Quantifier tool to evaluate clean diesel projects



  • Helps the shipping industry create sustainable business practices and manage energy resources at all levels.


International Air Transport Association (IATA)

  • IATA is an international industry trade group of airlines. Environment, safety and security are IATA’s top priorities. IATA’s activities in the field of environment include aircraft noise, alternative fuels, climate change, fuel efficiency, and local air quality. IATA has established Technology Roadmap, which provides a summary and assessment of technological opportunities for future aircraft.


Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG)

  • SAFUG is an industry group whose objective is to accelerate the development and commercialization of aviation biofuels. When joining SAFUG, the airline will sign a pledge to pursue the advancement of drop-in biofuels that achieve important sustainability criteria, work with leading organizations to achieve biofuel certification standards, and take actions to enable commercial use of aviation biofuels.


Rocky Mountain Institute – Mobility + Vehicle Efficiency discusses the future of the transportation industry.


Key Words


  • Green Shipping
  • Eco-Shipping
  • Green Marine
  • Sustainable Airfreight
  • Green Airline
  • Fuel Efficiency Standards
  • SmartWay Partners
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