Publication Date
Authored by
Miguel Garcia Gonzalez, Taylor Peterson
Topic(s) Covered:
  • Omnichannel
  • Sustainability

Beginning in 2020, the e-commerce grocery retail industry grew rapidly, largely due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. In addition to this shift in consumer shopping preferences, retailers are facing another challenge: a looming labor shortage. This shortage of workers has caused enormous disruptions across the supply chain, particularly for activities performed within warehouses and fulfillment centers. To tackle these challenges, companies are embracing a series of strategies to help ease the pressure of the labor shortage in warehouses. One of these leading strategies is automation. At the same time, the energy consumption of automation equipment raises concerns of its environmental impact among investors, regulators, and customers alike. Although there are general greenhouse gas accounting standards, there is no comprehensive link between warehouse automation and emissions. This research proposes a framework for measuring greenhouse gas emissions stemming from warehouse automation. The result is a dynamic carbon emissions calculator that determines the total CO2 emissions derived from the energy consumption of various automation technologies. The framework is validated using real data from an e-commerce grocery retailer and provides results indicating that sustainability and automation are not mutually exclusive.

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