Friday, 27 March 2009

K+N global logistics

Here’s another set of company results showing that this is not a recession for the biggest power players in global supply chains. K+N is one of the world’s biggest logistics firms. Here is a photo of one of their lorries. You might be less likely to see its giant warehouses, which K&N began construction of and expanded in many locations in 2008, including Hamburg and Kuala Lumpur. K+N posted its best financial results for 2008, with turnover up 3 per cent from 2007, and a 21 per cent increase in the shareholder dividend.

Air freight was up 2.1 per cent for 2008 in spite of fuel costs and the downturn. K+N’s recent air freight highlights include collaborating with carrier Volga-Dnepr to fly 300 tonnes of heavyweight oil drilling equipment from Parchim in Germany to Siberia in three giant Antonov An-24 planes. K+N also provided the logistics for the solar taxi which travelled around the world including flying it from Calcutta to Bali, where it carried environmental ministers around at the climate change conference in December 2007. This air freight leg of the journey will have resulted in far higher greenhouse gas emissions than the shipping legs between Perth and Singapore and from Jebel-Ali to Mumbai.

The solar powered vehicle is a remarkable achievement and it is important to build up enthusiasm about progress in renewable energy. But we also need to recognise the likely limitations. Even at the pinnacle of innovation with renewables, we are unlikley to be able to transport heavyweight items all over the world as quickly as fossil fuel dependent air freight allows. Social changes like forward planning and patience are just as important as technological progress.

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