Real-time data and the road to net-zero


In 2021, the repercussions of the pandemic stretched supply chains to breaking point, as did factors such as material scarcity, shipping delays and labour shortages.

The events of 2022 have so far seemed to amplify the problems. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and severe Covid-19 outbreaks in China have created further inefficiency across supply chains globally.

In the face of continued disruption, organisations reliant on their supply chain are learning to be more agile. They are recognising the value of real-time data and insights and the tremendous opportunity to restore supply chains to be not only more resilient, but more efficient and sustainable too.

The new goal: sustainability

While efficiency has always been a prerequisite of well-run operations, sustainability is a relatively newer goal that logistics managers across the world are under increasing pressure to achieve.

Following last year’s COP26 summit, supply chain industries have come under great scrutiny as they account for scope three greenhouse gas emissions. The UN has also warned that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track toward the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

Due to the role that transportation plays in producing greenhouse gas emissions, logistics operators are being looked upon to address the root causes of climate change and set and meet aggressive sustainability goals.

Carbon disclosures have become mandatory, so supply chain operators need to report on and measure their environmental footprint. These disclosures and reporting requirements ensure that sustainability is considered a core part of a company’s operations and their upstream suppliers’ and vendors’ operations too.

With operations responsible for 55% of the energy consumed by Europe, reducing this even slightly can have a significant environmental impact.

However, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Real-time data and visibility into sustainability metrics across the supply chain have become critical.

IoT-connected operations: real-time intelligence

Our customers run complex supply chains, and don’t view sustainability in a silo, but rather as a piece of the larger connected operations puzzle.

IoT-enabled connected operations delivers real-time data that allows sustainability to become an integrated part of how a company operates. Once collected, and combined with automation and smart analysis, inefficiencies and waste become easily identifiable — and actionable.

The opportunities for reducing a company’s environmental footprint are varied and far-reaching, and by no means does this require reinventing whole systems. For example, data can identify poor driving behaviour like reducing harsh braking or unnecessary idling time. Transportation routes can be optimised for minimum mileage usage too, or digital documentation introduced to replace paper logs and delivery notes.

Dohrn Transfer Company, a Samsara client, has placed a sensor in 500+ fleet vehicles. The result is unlocking live reporting of GPS, fuel usage, driver safety events and more, which has increased fuel efficiency and saved around 150,000 gallons of fuel—over $500,000—per year.

The vehicle for change: EVs

To initiate environmental change for the long term, many fleet-focused organisations are considering the adoption of electric vehicles. Logistics and transportation companies can significantly reduce global emissions by electrifying their fleets – and even switching to hybrid vehicles can make a meaningful difference.

However, the shift to a sustainable supply chain using EVs comes with new infrastructure challenges. While it can take minutes to fill up a petrol tank, charging an EV can take hours and the position and reliability of charging points is questionable to support a shift at a big scale.

As the popularity of EVs soars, governments are struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for EV charging and consequently, the rates of EV adoption are threatened.

Fleet data can help to overcome the challenges of electrification going mainstream. For example, by monitoring a vehicle for unexpected circumstances of low battery so that dispatchers can reroute a vehicle to a charger or back to base.

The final destination: net-zero

 At the recent Connected Fleets Conference, big data and IoT software were recognised as indispensable to fostering sustainability within supply chains. Moreover, data was identified as the key to meeting zero-emission goals.

Ultimately, it is in the interests of everyone to make supply chains as sustainable as possible. And smarter operations is undoubtedly an area that will create an enormous impact on the future of our environment. Even small shifts in their operations can dramatically reduce their environmental impact.

At Samsara, we know that our greatest contribution will come from continued innovation in building technology-based solutions that help to make the world’s operations more sustainable.