Kraft Foods took 50 million truck miles out of its global distribution operations through a broad effort to overhaul shipping strategies and make its supply chain more efficient, the food giant said.
The $42 billion manufacturer of products from Kraft cheese to Maxwell House coffee to Oscar Mayer meats chopped the highway miles over the past four years using alternatives to trucking, and rethinking its distribution network on a broad scale.
Some of its inbound and outbound freight shifted from highways to rail and to waterways, the company said. It also streamlined distribution, repositioning hubs and other facilities to reduce the number of trucks it needs and the number of miles they travel.
"We think about miles, piles and idles when moving our product," Steve Yucknut, vice president of sustainability at the Northfield, Ill.-based company, said last month. "We're finding ways to drive fewer miles, reduce inventory piles and eliminate idling trucks."
In Ohio, the company switched 10,000 truck shipments to barge to deliver wheat to its Toledo flour mill. That saved more than a million miles and 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the company said. It is testing hybrid trucks in direct store delivery service.
Its 20 largest plants and distribution centers in North America also are using transportation and warehouse optimization software to maximize the amount of product shipped per truckload, taking the equivalent of 1,500 trucks off the road. Kraft also used transportation management software from Oracle to cut more than 500,000 empty miles from its private fleet trips last year.
The company's top 50 for-hire motor carriers use the software as well, the company said.
Kraft is also among the shippers pushing Congress to allow heavier trucks on U.S. highways, claiming the use of trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds would reduce fuel use and carbon emissions and allow shippers to move freight in fewer trucks.
Using heavier, more fully loaded trucks, Kraft could cut the number of truck trips between a Champaign, Ill., plant and a Norcross, Ga., distribution center 23 percent, saving 33,000 gallons of diesel fuel, the company told the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette.
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