US distribution centre technology provider Lucas Systems has teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) on new research that could improve environmental sustainability within the logistics industry.

The joint project aims to improve the packing of various items sent in a single order that will help reduce excess distribution centre and transportation waste.

Master students of CMU’s Software and Societal Systems Department (S3D) in the School of Computer Science will work to address end-of-supply-chain distribution challenges by using 3D visualisation frameworks, mobile application development, and Core CS and Web/Angular/JS environments.

These students will team up with Lucas’ data scientists and software engineers to work on optimising user interfaces and architecture within the sector, which is set to complement Lucas’ development of smart software.

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According to the company, this smart software seeks to enable warehouse workers to pick products to efficiently fulfil an order.

Lucas CTO Mark McCleary said: “The entire distribution industry has numerous opportunities to reduce waste and improve sustainability.

“Consumers already recognise the increased amount of material they throw away with each shipment they receive. Consumers are paying for a lot of that waste – and so is our environment.”

According to a report by data platform Statista earlier in March this year, global paper and cardboard consumption has grown by approximately 7% year-over-year (YoY) over the past 60 years.

In the US alone, more than 90% of shipped items are packaged in cardboard.

The partnership between Lucas and CMU could bring significant economic and environmental improvement to the distribution industry.

Master of Software Engineering programmes director and computer science associate professor Travis Breaux said: “CMU and S3D are excited to work with Lucas Systems on this critical challenge. Improving the sustainability of packaging using the latest technologies is an area that we’re excited to contribute to.”