Logistics and Transport

Reducing our emissions is an important target within our transport and logistics concepts.

Our approach to reducing our logistics footprint starts in the product development stage. This is why we are optimizing our products and the related packaging in terms of weight and volume, whenever it is possible to do so without compromising performance, convenience or stability. More concentrated products and lighter packaging reduce transport weight, which decreases the amount of fuel required during transport and reduces the related emissions. Improving our logistics structures also helps to reduce transport emissions. Our approach takes the location of our production sites into account. For bulkier products, we reduce transport distances and environmental impact by operating regional production sites. For compact products, we leverage efficiencies in production by manufacturing these products centrally whenever possible. For transportation and logistics for finished goods, we focus our efforts on these key levers:

  • Optimizing the capacity utilization of all modes of transportation
  • Reducing the use of air freight and expanding ocean freight
  • Using alternative drive trains
  • Expanding intermodal transportation
  • Using Digital tools for improved logistics
  • Address Mobility under our “Future mobility” Initiative

We leverage these drivers through close collaboration with our suppliers and customers to implement joint logistics projects. We also use advanced digital solutions and alternative propulsion systems for transport. When choosing our transport partners, we consider efficiency, environmental compatibility and safety performance. Relevant criteria are included in our tendering and decision-making processes for the purchase of logistics services.

Henkel is constantly striving to increase truck capacity utilization. Fuller trucks mean fewer trucks on the road, which has a positive impact on CO2 emissions. One example can be found in loads from the Kruševac site in Serbia. Trucks bound from Serbia to France and Poland are loaded with a combination of palletized and non-palletized products. Removing some of the pallets during the loading process allows more products to be loaded into the trucks. The resulting higher truck capacity utilization reduces the number of truckloads by about 680, saving about 0.7 million kilometers per year.

Air freight is one of the most emission-intensive types of freight transport. Ocean freight, on the other hand, is often the least intensive. However, air and sea freight are different traffic flows and cannot necessarily be substituted for each other. Some goods, such as perishable or timesensitive goods, must be transported by air and cannot be transported by ship. Better planning and moving away from a just-in-time approach, however, can make it possible to reduce unplanned air freight and thereby reduce emissions. Our air freight share increased slightly by 0.5 percent this year compared with the previous year. Our teams intend to do everything possible to further reduce air freight volumes under the difficult circumstances of raw material availability and supply shortages as a result of the global pandemic. 

Alternative types of drive trains are also part of our approach to optimizing transport and logistics with a view to protecting the climate. We are testing the operational capability of vehicles with alternative drive systems such as battery-powered electric vehicles. When we adopt the use of electric vehicles, we only consider the activities related to their use to be emission-free if the electricity used to charge those vehicles comes from renewable sources, as can be seen in the recently introduced electric vehicles for supplying our adhesives customers in Brazil. Solar panels at the distribution center are used to recharge the batteries, resulting in true zero emissions. We are also planning to start using two hydrogen-powered trucks in Düsseldorf, Germany, so that we can gather information on the performance and reliability of the technology. In 2022, the onsite logistics fleet also adopted double-deck trailers to maximize truck capacity utilization.

Intermodal transportation means the use of more than one means of transportation. At Henkel, this means more of our transports are being switched from road to rail. This process begins with a truck carrying the goods to the nearest rail loading terminal. From there, the goods cover longer distances by train, before a second truck collects the goods at the destination terminal and delivers them to the customer. This allows us to make use of the lower CO2 -footprint of rail transport compared to road transport, since a train emits about one-third of the CO2 of a truck when transporting the same weight of goods. For this reason, intermodal transport has become a key driver for CO2 reduction in logistics at Henkel. 

We further intensified our efforts in this regard in 2022. For example, further loads of laundry detergents and household cleaners that are manufactured at our site in Kruševac, Serbia, are now transported to Düsseldorf by rail via Vienna, Austria, and Orodea, Romania, instead of being transported on trucks. There are many circumstances in which trucks cannot be replaced by alternative modes of transportation, but truck emissions and powertrains can be improved. In Germany, we are testing LNG trucks on the route from Düsseldorf to Bönen.

Our transport management system systematically captures the CO2 emissions of our logistics operations and makes our transport planning and implementation even more efficient across all business units and countries. Increased truck capacity utilization and optimized routes are particularly helpful in reducing transport kilometers, cutting fuel consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.

Our progress is illustrated with a digital tool that calculates the environmental impact of transport for all modes of transport based on the DIN EN 16258 standard. Inputs include actual distances based on GPS data, country-specific emission factors, and data from the respective modes of transportation. 

The combined application of both IT solutions enables us to foster transparency and data comparability across the entire industry, and helps us to track progress toward our emissions reduction target. Since 2021, we have calculated our logistics emissions using a new methodology developed by our service provider ETW. By recalculating the previous year’s figures, we have a method that allows us to reliably track progress towards achieving our targets.

Beyond the use of advanced digital tools, alternative propulsion types also form part of our approach to optimizing transport and logistics. We are testing the operational capability of vehicles powered by alternative propulsion systems at our sites. At our headquarters in Düsseldorf, we have, for example, incorporated more than 40 electric vehicles into the internal fleet since 2012 to replace conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines. In 2021, we also converted the first in-house vans to purely electric vehicles. We have built a corresponding infrastructure with over 120 charging stations in and around the industrial park, ten of them in cooperation with the utility company Stadtwerke Düsseldorf. Our vehicle policy for electric and hybrid cars also gives our employees in Germany the option of driving an electric or hybrid vehicle as a company car. 

In 2019, the first hydrogen-powered vehicle was added to the internal fleet at our Düsseldorf plant, and a hydrogen filling station was installed. To promote hydrogen mobility, Henkel has been actively engaged over the past few years in various initiatives and research projects, such as “Modellregion Wasserstoffmobilität NRW Düssel.Rhein.Wupper".

In the context of future mobility, we also seek to reduce transport-related emissions by generating a holistic, modern and sustainable concept to foster our staff’s mobility.