Comment: The study of UAE's supply chain

Mike Walden talks about the high carbon emission levels

Mike Walden
Mike Walden

Over the last six months I have been greatly impressed with the in-depth study our amazing intern, Hebah Al Blooshi, has conducted regarding the green supply chain. Here at 4 Corners, we believe in a corporate governance that puts sustainability at the forefront of our business and we take responsibility for implementing green initiatives in the way we operate.

Hebah’s investigative studies have revealed some compelling statistics regarding the current food supply chain system in the UAE and her research exposes the high carbon emission levels being exploited throughout this region due to inefficient warehousing systems, unorganised supply chains and antiquated delivery systems.

As Hebah’s internship journey comes to an end, it coincides well with the completion of 4 Corners’ consolidation project — we have invested heavily in a brand new purpose-built warehousing facility, which enables us to operate a more sustainable and efficient business.

In practice, we can dramatically reduce the number of kilometres out of the current supply chain and further strengthen our corporate responsibility for ‘greener’ solutions. Hebah’s findings have been highly influential to our consolidation project and have directly affected a lot of the key decisions which have subsequently been made.

The warehouse facility will allow 4 Corners to implement complete vertical integration, whereby all aspects of our business will be housed under one roof; this will ensure maximum efficiency, energy savings, cost savings, reduced transportation and quick turnarounds.

The completed project will enable us to offer our customers a one-stop-shop solution and help them to dramatically lower their carbon footprint contribution, reduce costs, save time and, in essence, work together to save our environment. It is the complex technical planning of the build and use of innovative technologies that allows such a facility to support a greener supply chain.

The 33,000ft2 warehouse is purpose-built and fully temperature-controlled to incorporate air conditioned, frozen and chilled food storage units. However, with the investment of state-of-the-art mobile racking, we have maximised the warehouses internal capacity to 75,000ft2.

In essence, this clever planning has allowed us to produce a facility which is under half the physical size, yet can house the same volume of operation. This is incredible when keeping sustainability and green responsibilities at the top of our agenda.

The vast size difference provides the same result but with over 50% less energy usage, 50% less carbon emission production and physically less space on the environment. Hebah’s journey has pushed us to maximise the best technologies available to fully support a greener supply chain in every way we can.

During Hebah’s trip to the UK, which was featured in last month’s edition, she witnessed certain energy-saving technologies and referred them on to us.

Subsequently, we have now introduced sophisticated heating mats to prevent ice buildup in the freezer units, and this technology cleverly eliminates the need for constant motorised blowers and thus greatly reduces energy usage even more.

To go one step further and to fulfill the need for complete integration, we have also combined our head offices into the new build and by the end of November 2014, we literally were all under one roof.

The consolidation project is something 4 Corners has been working on heavily during the last six months. And to further build on our one-stop-shop strategy, we have invested in a unique electronic ordering system so we can be ‘paperless’ by 2015.

The innovative software will allow our customers to purchase all of their food products from our e-catalogue, therefore eliminating thousands of unnecessary invoices, email correspondence, and confusion within the supply chain. This is just one of the many ideas we have to fully implement a consolidated green supply system… watch this space!

It’s been our passion since day one to revolutionise the complicated and complex supply chain systems seen in the UAE and Hebah has embraced our passion with full force; her research has revalidated all of the reasons why we took on such a big project in the first place.

We hope that the UAE can catch up with more sophisticated operations witnessed elsewhere in the world and make great changes for a brighter, greener and more sustainable future. The end of November marked a crucial point for the end of Hebah’s journey and the beginning of 4 Corners’ new one.

I hope this time next year our efforts have been worth it and the possibility of a greener supply chain becomes real.

Mike Walden is commercial director at 4 Corners. Emirates Academy of Hospitality intern Hebah Al Blooshi is sponsored by food service & one-stop-shop experts 4 Corners.

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