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Reference architecture for fuel-based carbon management information system

The carbon footprint (CF) is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an activity or over the life stages of a product.

Logistical service providers have various reasons to attempt to gain insight in the carbon footprint of their transport services. Clients may ask for a report on the emissions caused by a transport order and forthcoming legislation may demand carbon management from the transport industry. Furthermore insight in emissions provides insight in reduction opportunities. In the transport industry, the dominant driver of carbon emissions is fuel combustion. Reducing carbon emissions thus means reducing fuel consumption. This yields financial savings, which is another incentive to adopt carbon management.

Carbon footprinting is a relatively new phenomenon. Numerous protocols from various organizations have emerged over the past years, and calculation methods are still under development. The current practice is to calculate transport emissions distance-based, i.e. based on distance travelled, using long-term averages to estimate fuel consumption per kilometer. Fuel consumption may actually vary over time, because of differences in road characteristics, traffic situations, driving behavior, etc. Therefore distance-based emission calculations are not accurate. Without accurate insight in carbon emissions, it is difficult for Logistic Service Providers (LSPs) to start with carbon reduction initiatives.

Our approach is to calculate transport emissions fuel-based by obtaining the actual fuel consumption during trips via board computers installed in vehicles. Transport services may stretch over multiple, sometimes multimodal, legs. While crossing warehouses, multiple shipments are often consolidated in one freight unit. Altogether calculating transport carbon emissions is a complex task. To automatically gather relevant data and consequently calculate emissions, an information system is necessary. Several Carbon Management Systems (CMS) have recently emerged on the market. However, the current state of the art of these applications goes little further than Corporate Carbon Footprints (CCF) for the average company.

Based on
M.E. Iacob, M.J. van Sinderen, M. Steenwijk, P. Verkroost, Towards a Reference Architecture for Fuel-based Carbon Management Systems in the Logistics Industry, Information Systems Frontiers, November 2013, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 725-745. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10796-013-9416-y/fulltext.html [Paid article]

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Supply Chain Innovation: How Technology Can Create a Sustainable Future

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