The logistics environment has entered an age where delivery companies choose the owners and the type of transportation. To achieve sustainable logistics, we must become an owner selected by logistics subcontractors and shipping companies. For this reason, the Group is working to secure stable transportation through a comprehensive study to improve working conditions in the logistics industry, reduce CO2 emissions, introduce BCP, etc.
In fiscal 2017, five companies including Mitsui Chemicals were collectively certified as modal shift businesses by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. In this instance, certification recognized the modal shift away from the use of trucks to rail when transporting products between the Company’s operations in the Ichihara area (Chiba Prefecture) to its affiliate DOW-MITSUI POLYCHEMICALS CO., LTD. in the Ohtake area (Hiroshima Prefecture). In August 2017, large containers provided by Japan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight) were introduced in full for container round use* based on the shared logistics system of the Mitsui Chemicals Group. These efforts have assured stability in the mode of transportation, reduced CO2 emissions by 70% and reduced working time for truck drivers. They were achieved through the partnership between the Mitsui Chemicals Group, JR Freight and our logistics subcontractors.
*Container round use :
Container round use is a concept that returning the container with another cargo after unloading the cargo on the outbound instead of returning“Empty”.
We made greater advances in modal shift for transportation from the Ichihara area to the Chugoku area. Previously, Mitsui Chemicals had used trucks to ship synthetic resin using 500-kilogram flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs). However, the particular nature of the product did not allow stacking in two tiers. For this reason, a 12-ton truck was able to carry only eight tons of products in a single layer, which is only 67% of the truck's loading capacity. This presented a problem of loading efficiency. Accordingly, Mitsui Chemicals produced – with registered design rights on – a dedicated rack to enable the FIBCs to be stacked in two tiers, along with a special 20-foot high-cube container that has been registered as a utility model. The containerization of the cargo made it possible to improve loading efficiency and achieve a modal shift to the use of domestic container ships. These achievements led to a reduction in CO2 emissions and a reduction in truck drivers’ workload. We received the Award for Eco-Friendly Logistics Technology at 20th Logistics Environment Award of the Japan Association for Logistics and Transport. We are expanding this practice to other areas of Japan. We are now making plan and discussing with our logistics subcontractors and shipping companies to use marine transportation to the Kyushu area.
In addition, Mitsui Chemicals has been designated as an Eco Rail Mark company by the Administration and Screening Committee of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Shared Logistics System for Small-lot Products by Other Companies in the Same Business
Against the backdrop of an increasingly serious shortage of drivers and burgeoning mail order demand, operators began to shun the transportation of chemicals. Securing stable transportation capacity for small-lot products over long distances thus became an urgent issue common among chemical shippers.
In the Keiyo area to the east of Tokyo, we have collected shipments from the production sites of other manufacturers in the vicinity and share the logistics of delivering those products to customers via common transportation routes since 2016. Traditionally, transportation was carried out by delivery companies that took chemicals mixed with loads of general merchandise on set routes via multiple transshipment points. Since we reduced the number of transshipment points by using companies specializing in chemicals, we reduced the number of quality issues, such as damage caused in transit. We could also achieve the improvement in load efficiency which leads the effect of reducing our CO2 emissions. This system started with shipments destined for the Tohoku areas and has expanded to destinations in the Hokuriku and Koshinetsu areas. To boost the shared logistics system, activities will be developed together with the logistics subcontractors and shippers who are participating in the system. There are different logistics collaboration schemes in both goods owners and chemical companies. We are currently working to establish a combined transportation system. This system should be able to replace or supplement some parts of the national transportation networks, through which we plan to create a stable, small-lot transportation scheme for chemicals.
Shared Logistics System
Greater Efficiency in Inventory Control and Shipment Management
For greater efficiency in inventory control and shipment management, we have introduced the use of portable terminals. The system involves printing QR codes on labels attached to each packaging type and reading the codes with portable terminals at acceptance and shipment for inventory and shipment control. This has led to a reduction in the workload and paperless processing compared with inventory control based on manual entry and spreadsheet input. Also, the risk of reading errors caused by visible checking of brand names and lot numbers has been removed by the system, preventing erroneous shipments. Full-scale operation was started at Nagoya Works in fiscal 2019, and it is scheduled to be introduced to Ichihara Works in fiscal 2020.
Project to Reduce Driver Standby Time
We are working to improve the work environment for truck drivers and ultimately to reduce the workload for logistics subcontractors, by reducing the standby time for truck drivers while waiting for loading. An appointment system has been introduced in chemicals loading for tank trucks at the Osaka Works and is producing results. It is scheduled to be introduced to Ichihara Works and Iwakuni-Ohtake Works in fiscal 2019.
Participation in Sustainable Logistics Initiative
Mitsui Chemicals announced its support for the sustainable logistics initiative proposed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and submitted a declaration of its relevant independent activities. The initiative is aimed at addressing the increasing shortage of truck drivers, ensuring the stable logistics operations needed for domestic life and industrial activities while also contributing to economic growth. The initiative aims to improve productivity in truck transportation and create greater logistical efficiency while also looking to realize a better labor environment that makes work easier for female drivers and those over the age of 60. The table below describes the initiatives laid out in Mitsui Chemicals’ declaration of its independent activities.
|Initiative||Details and expected outcome|
|Introducing an appointment system||The introduction of an appointment system for trucks will help cut down on waiting time.|
|Utilizing pallets and more||By making use of pallets and reusable shipping cartons, cargo handling can be sped up.|
|Giving prior notice of shipment information||Being quicker to convey information from shippers about inbound and outbound shipments will give logistics workers more time to prepare.|
|Utilizing expressways||Mitsui Chemicals will enter into earnest negotiations about how to make use of expressways and who should bear the fees for this.|
|Making a modal shift toward sea and rail||Mitsui Chemicals will strive to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by making active use of sea and rail transport for long-distance shipments.|
|Implementing safety measures for cargo handling work||Providing clear operational instructions, ensuring safe passage, establishing footholds and more will help to ensure more thorough worker safety.|
|Stopping or suspending operations during extreme weather||If extreme weather conditions occur or are expected to occur, Mitsui Chemicals will avoid making unreasonable requests for shipments.|
Energy Intensity for the Transportation of Products
Energy intensity for the transportation of products* in fiscal 2019 was 7.13 kl/thousand tons, improving 3.2% comparing to fiscal 2018.
Energy Intensity (kL/thousand tons)
*Energy Intensity for the transportation of products:
Amount of energy consumed (crude oil equivalent in kiloliters) / Volume of product shipments (thousands of tons).