This Is How Automation Can Enhance Supply Chain Sustainability for Businesses

Susana Vargas
May 30, 2024

Sustainability has become a critical consideration for businesses worldwide, particularly in the context of supply chains, where concerns about carbon emissions and environmental impact keep growing every day.  

In search for solutions to address current sustainability challenges, companies are increasingly turning to automation technologies to streamline operations and reduce their ecological footprint.

A recent study conducted by Earth.Org has shed light on how automation might be the solution for companies to be more sustainable, and at Lean Solutions Group we’ve summarized the key findings to help you transform the way you manage the flow of goods, data, finances, and workforce optimization, ultimately reducing environmental harm.  

Automation’s Role in Supply Chain Sustainability

Supply chain automation involves implementing technological solutions, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, blockchain, and robotics to optimize and automate essential business functions such as inventory management, order processing, and logistics. By integrating these technologies, businesses can lead to more efficient and environmentally friendly operations.

Carbon Neutral Transportation

Industry experts project a 36% increase in the number of delivery vehicles globally by 2030, resulting in an additional 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  However, automation technologies offer a promising solution to mitigate these emissions.  Self-driving trucks, for instance, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by more than 63% compared to their diesel counterparts.  

Drones and delivery robots are also offering a practical alternative, with research indicating that integrating these technologies could result in reduction of over 90% in energy consumption per package compared to conventional vehicles.

Waste Reduction

Globally, approximately $163 billion worth of inventory is discarded annually due to oversupply or damage, resulting in significant environmental consequences such as air pollution, water contamination, and soil degradation.

Integrating IoT sensors into supply chains can revolutionize waste management by providing real-time insights throughout the process. For instance, if a shipment is delayed and products exceed the specified limit, the sensors promptly alert suppliers, enabling them to reroute the package to a nearby sorting facility. This proactive approach not only reduces waste but also contributes to save costs across the entire supply chain.

Route Optimization

Efficient route planning is crucial for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation. Using AI technology to optimize routes for faster and more efficient deliveries can significantly reduce environmental impact.  

For example, IBM's Supply Chain Insights platform employs real-time data on traffic, weather, and other factors to optimize shipping routes, taking into account both cost and sustainability considerations.  

Process Automation

Manual errors in supply chain processes can have significant environmental consequences, contributing to increased energy consumption and carbon emissions. For instance, delivering the wrong product due to a clerical error not only results in additional transportation emissions but also leads to potential waste and inefficiencies in the supply chain.

However, automation presents a solution to mitigate these errors and improve environmental sustainability. By automating workflows and processes, businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of human errors, resulting in more accurate order fulfillment and reduced environmental impact.

Furthermore, automation enables teams to focus on higher-level projects and strategic decision-making, rather than mundane and error-prone tasks. This shift in focus not only enhances productivity but also fosters innovation and sustainability initiatives within the organization.

Nearshoring Opportunities

Moreover, the integration of automation technologies aligns well with the concept of nearshoring. Nearshoring, which involves relocating business operations closer to the target market, offers several advantages in terms of process automation and sustainability.

Automating workflows with nearshoring can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings, with studies indicating potential cost reductions of up to 90%. By streamlining operations and minimizing manual intervention, nearshoring can optimize resource utilization and reduce their environmental footprint.

At Lean Solutions Group, we help a lot of customers with technology automation and optimization

projects. Partnering with us will give you the freedom to discover exactly what can be automated as we customize SOPs and workflows for each role, and once the automated areas are identified we will leverage our divisions to create these RPAs and automation based on best practices of our 750+ clients.  

If you’re looking for supply chain solutions, at Lean Solutions Group we specialize in transportation/logistics and have built everything from bots to full blown TMSs. We also know exceptions will still occur and we can handle those as you implement your automation or new technology.

We believe in the Power of Partnership. See what our clients at Trekker have to say about working together to boost their customer satisfaction.


Susana is a content creator with a passion for research. She has journalism and digital marketing as her professional background. Susana loves music, concerts, movies, and traveling. As a hobby, she collects vinyl records of all genres of music.

Share Post


Subscribe to our newsletter!

Interested in Augmenting Your Workforce with Lean Solutions Group

Fill in the information below to get started!