Physical Operations Leaders Feel Magnitude of Role to Limit Carbon Emissions & Meet Sustainability Goals


Global leaders are meeting this week at COP26 to discuss plans to cut emissions and accelerate sustainability efforts in the public and private sectors. The world of physical operations, specifically the industrial and transportation sectors, can greatly impact sustainability progress as they consume more than 60 percent of energy in the United States. This is why Samsara, the pioneer of the Connected Operations Cloud, conducted a survey with Wakefield Research to reveal how operations and fleet leaders view sustainability, and what challenges exist for setting and meeting sustainability goals for their organizations.

The Bottom Line Comes First in the Pressing Pursuit to Drive Sustainability Forward
The research points to a desire to make meaningful change, as 78 percent of operations and fleet leaders agree that they have a greater responsibility to prioritize sustainability efforts than other industries. These leaders (91 percent) also feel significant pressure is being put on their organization to set and meet aggressive sustainability goals, including from the government (54 percent), suppliers/partners (44 percent), and even competitors (44 percent) as sustainability becomes a differentiator.

The most important consideration comes down to aligning efforts with the organization’s bottom line as 94 percent said they can only meet their sustainability goals if they can prove it will benefit the business. With 49 percent operating without a sustainability strategy in place, and 87 percent worried their organization will not meet its sustainability goals, the study revealed several pressing challenges impacting their plans.

Supply Chain Disruptions and Labor Shortages Put Brakes on Sustainability
Fleet and operations leaders are faced with a challenging environment as supply chain disruptions and a labor shortage impact daily operations. Supply chain disruptions are preventing 33 percent from setting more aggressive sustainability goals. Even more pressing, 79 percent admit that these disruptions have set back their existing sustainability goals.

In addition, the vast majority of leaders are prioritizing the labor shortage first. The research found 93 percent agreed they must address the labor shortage before they can focus on sustainability goals, and it’s also preventing leaders (42 percent) from setting more aggressive goals.

Accurate, Real-Time Data is Needed to Achieve Sustainability Goals
Technology solutions, including the real-time data they can provide, have an important role in helping leaders move sustainability forward. Leaders revealed that COVID-19 accelerated the need for technology solutions that allow them to evaluate sustainability efforts (79 percent). Despite the need, not all have the right partnerships (45 percent) and technology (37 percent) in place to progress and set more aggressive sustainability goals.

Data-related issues were a common challenge among leaders. The majority (93 percent) experience data-related challenges when analyzing sustainability performance, like an insufficient amount of data (47 percent), unreliable or inaccurate information (46 percent), and difficulty synthesizing information (45 percent). The research also found leaders do not have real-time data to track sustainability performance for more efficient routes (46 percent), vehicle utilization (42 percent), and equipment or machine efficiency (41 percent).

Amplifying this challenge is the fact that many are still tracking some of their physical operations manually (96 percent) and cite a lack of real-time data as preventing them from setting more aggressive sustainability goals (41 percent).

Leaders also stated that insight from real-time data would make it easier to meet emission targets (47 percent), which has the potential to make a sizable difference considering only 20 percent are completely confident their organization is accurately measuring its emissions.

Strong Financial and Employee Retention Benefits Exist for Electrifying Fleets
One sustainability strategy to reduce emissions is the electrification of fleets, as 77 percent said it is extremely / very important for their organization to meet its sustainability goals, and 26 percent said it’s the most important thing. Government incentives for the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles also had an impact on many organizations’ electrification strategies (89 percent).

Electrifying vehicle fleets could do more than just help reduce their organization’s carbon footprint (45 percent) — leaders indicated it could also help benefit their bottom line. The top benefits of electrifying vehicle fleets include financial incentives (43 percent), lowering the total cost of ownership (42 percent), and reducing vehicle downtime for maintenance (40 percent). In this time of labor shortages, 42 percent said incorporating electric vehicles into fleets is also considered to increase employee retention.

“This research highlights the huge opportunity for the world of physical operations to push sustainability forward, and shows just how important technology is to enable this change,” said Alexander Stevenson, VP of Product Management at Samsara. “While many leaders are facing setbacks, they are also gaining access to new tools that can help realize their goals. Be it the ability to digitize operations or the growth of electric vehicles, there are a lot of advancements helping to make sustainable choices easier.”

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