Reduction of energy consumption and waste
Robotics and automation
The use of warehouse automation and robots significantly reduces the business need for electricity with the option for some facilities to operate as dark warehouses. This coupled with energy-efficient robots picking products means a significant amount of energy is saved.
Yaskawa Robotics and Plus One Robotics
FedEx has four robotic sorting arms at its Memphis hub in the US. In 2020, FedEx teamed up with robotics companies Yaskawa and Plus One. Yaskawa supplies the robotic arms, grippers and system integration and Plus One provides the AI software serving as the robots’ eyes which allows the robots to learn how to pick up a wide range of packages and envelopes.
The four robots can handle 6,000 to 8,000 packages daily, depending on the kinds of packages they encounter, which is significantly more than manual workers could handle, therefore reducing energy use within the facility. The robotic arms pick up packages from a collection bin and move them to a conveyor belt. After that, the packages are scanned and inducted into FedEx’s sorting system.
FedEx Ground uses autonomous tugs from Vecna Robotics to transport bulky packages through some of its hub facilities. The self-driving tugs are equipped with sensors and know the shape of the building they operate in, so they are highly efficient, reducing manpower and energy use.
Real-Time Visibility Platform
In June 2022, FedEx announced it is collaborating with FourKites to create a new real-time visibility platform, with integrated intelligence at every point of the supply chain, called FourKites X. It will provide total visibility in the warehouse, giving teams highly accurate and granular data down to the level of individual SKUs so they can more rapidly locate inventory and proactively resolve disruptions to keep goods flowing. This will significantly improve warehouse efficiency and will lead to reduced costs, waste, and emissions. Warehouse managers can better plan the use of resources and offloading, so trucks are less likely to be stuck in a queue with their carbon-emitting engines ticking over waiting to be unloaded.
In the FedEx Packaging Lab, different technologies are used to ensure that its packaging fulfils sustainability considerations. Packaging is designed to be durable, maintain constant temperatures and be reusable.
Carbon neutral warehouses and green electricity
As part of its goal to become carbon neutral by 2040, FedEx is advancing on-site renewable energy generation and procuring renewable energy to help it to continue reducing the GHG footprint. Across its operating companies, 26 FedEx locations generate on-site renewable energy. Currently, FedEx Ground has 16 on- and off-site solar installations, and its facility in Spokane, Washington, receives nearly 100% of its electrical needs from renewable energy sources.
Energy management systems provide centralized control of lighting and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment. In FY20, FedEx completed 49 upgrade projects across 26 facilities. In total, lighting retrofits have saved more than 238 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and led to reduced GHG emissions, environmental impacts, and operating costs.
Solar thermal air conditioning, Davenport, US
In 2021 in Davenport, US, FedEx installed a solar thermal air conditioning system which is expected to reduce the workload on air conditioner compressors by almost 40%.
Solar thermal technology uses the sun’s energy, but rather than converting solar energy to electricity, it uses the sunlight to create heat. The sun heats the refrigerant used in the air conditioners, greatly reducing the amount of electricity needed for this task. Solar thermal technology is also more efficient and affordable than photovoltaic and offers promise for cooling other FedEx facilities in the future.
This system will reduce energy demand by 33%, or about 16,090 kilowatt hours, and avoid 11.4 metric tons of CO2e emissions per year. That’s equivalent to avoiding the annual emissions from 28,229 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.
Eco-conscious facility, Colomiers, France
In 2021 FedEx Express announced it was moving its operations from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to a new eco-conscious facility in Colomiers, near Toulouse, France. Located in Europe’s strategic cluster for high-tech industry and biotechnology, the new building consolidates the international and domestic activities of FedEx Express in France – line-haul, sorting, and pick-up and delivery activities – in a new facility that prioritizes sustainability and the local environment.
The new facility features sustainable building materials, strong insulation, intelligent lighting, and measures to limit water consumption. 330 sq m of installed solar panels also generate renewable energy used onsite.