Reducing wasted miles at IGD’s first ever Hackathon

Date : 18 July 2018

Last week, IGD hosted its first Hackathon event as part of the charitable Reducing Wasted Miles initiative. We brought together 70 attendees from a whole range of organisations involved in the supply chain: retailers, manufacturers, solution providers, academics and third-party logistics firms.

Mixing collaboration and problem solving

Our aim in bringing this diverse group together was to work on some solutions to the major challenges facing food and grocery supply chains. The “hackathon” format was chosen as it involves collaboration and creative problem solving at a rapid pace.

To begin the day, we brought together some speakers to inspire the delegates. Here’s a flavour of what we heard:

  • Alan Braithwaite of consultants Bearing Point highlighted the increasing stress on urban last-mile delivery, with high costs and congestion. He flagged some pilots being run by U-Turn across Europe, including one which establishes more urban micro-hubs enabling cycle deliveries or more collections.
  • Alan Waller, Chairman of ELUPEG Europe (amongst many other roles), described the under-used logistics capacity across Europe and the world, including 85 billion kilometres of trucks running empty per year. ELUPEG is part of the NexTrust consortium, which is running over 40 pilots to tackle the issue. This included the concept of a “neutral trustee” which it hopes will facilitate trust, impartiality and compliance with competition law.
  • CHEP was one of the event’s sponsors, and we heard about how it has used its wide pallet pooling network to help customers improve transport efficiencies. It has done this by combining empty pallet transport with client transport, as well as bringing clients together to combine transport. A successful collaboration project in Spain was particularly highlighted, which is now being rolled out to other geographies.
  • Chris Hall is Logistics Director at Asda and co-chair of the ECR UK Reducing Wasted Miles working group. He presented a summary of the data-sharing pilot scheme that the group ran in 2017. This involved 6 trading partners working with Transporeon to share transport flow data confidentially. Chris described some of the benefits that this technology-led pilot demonstrated, but also flagged barriers such as gathering consistent datasets consistently and the internal approvals due to competition concerns.
  • Driver shortages is regularly flagged as a major logistics industry challenge. Sally Gilson, the Head of Skills at the Freight Transport Association, joined us to highlight the current and future shortages, pointing out mechanics as another potential gap alongside drivers. The FTA have been working on bringing more young people into the industry, with some success, but she was clear that more is needed from the industry as a whole if we are to “Keep Britain Trading”.
  • Lastly, we heard from another sponsor of the event, Transdek. Managing director Mark Adams told us how double-deck trailers could help to get more product into UK trailers. He described some different double-deck formats for urban, rural, motorway and short-sea routes. He concluded by highlighting that 1.4 billion miles could be saved on Britain’s roads, as well as 290,000 ferry crossings.

Time to hack!

After hearing from these speakers, we identified seven opportunity areas which the group agreed to “hack” and generate new opportunities. These areas were:

  • Better collaboration
  • Mindset and leadership
  • Involvement of third parties
  • New models and routes to market
  • Technology applications
  • Driver shortages
  • Scaling up pilots

The delegates chose an area that interested them and took to the flipcharts. Alan Hayes, IGD’s Strategy and Sustainability Manager, inspired the groups to work together with energy and commitment. The varied backgrounds and knowledge across the whole room came to the fore and ensured that everyone was able to contribute, learn, challenge and create.

We gave delegates the chance to swap onto a new topic after a while, which helped maintain the lively and productive atmosphere. This energy was maintained into the feedback session, delegates shared their ideas and action plans. Before leaving, delegates were encouraged to commit to taking action beyond the session, and we heard many people exchanging LinkedIn connections and agreeing to meet up soon to discuss next steps.

Beyond the Hackathon

There were so many great ideas presented on the day, and we’ll be keeping in touch with all the groups to hear about their progress. But my favourite came from a group with an eye on marketing as well as logistics. They were looking at the potential for technology to enable collaboration and described their solution as “Tinder for Transport”. Halimah from Beiersdorf was kind enough to post on LinkedIn afterwards: “Some days you can feel it's been productive by how exhausted you are- today is definitely one of those! It has been a day of inspiration and contemplation.”

As a new type of event for IGD, we were a little nervous about how it would work. But on the day, the delegates showed that there is a good deal of desire to reduce emissions, increase efficiency and improve the industry that we all work in.

Alistair Balderson

Alistair Balderson

Head of Supply Chain Insight

Sustainability Manager Alan Hayes looks at IGD and Wrap’s new resources for food companies to improve food waste measurement

15 October, London
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