2020 marked a turning point in consumer behavior. Not only did the sudden stay-home requirements shift how people shopped for food and other basic necessities, research shows that the shared struggle of COVID-19 and the witnessing of California wildfires and Midwestern floods gave consumers the time, space and motivation to evaluate their priorities when selecting certain brands. Namely, consumers began to look for brands that valued not just their personal well-being, but the protection of the environment. 

Research firm Forrester recently found that 68% of consumers exclusively pursue brands that actively reduce their carbon footprint, while 61% seek energy-efficient labels while shopping and 47% already buy organic products. 

For businesses across the supply chain ⁠— shippers, logistics providers and carriers ⁠— understanding the true impact of their carbon footprint is not straightforward endeavor. For this reason, as well as the benefits of gaining immediate capacity, many shippers are building their own private trucking fleets. Regardless of whether the fleet is public or private, however, visibility technologies help fleets keep track of trucking and cargo activity as it moves across the ever-chaotic supply chain. 

To truly understand technology’s role in helping shippers and carriers meet consumer demand for sustainable products, while still pursuing profitability, FreightWaves spoke with Chief Product Officer Elizabeth Elkins at PowerFleet, a leading provider of freight technology. 

“Historically, sustainability was largely viewed in the industry as a compliance project with pure cost center ramifications,” said Elkins. “While governmental mandates continue to underpin initiatives, the movement toward sustainability has become top of mind for investors, customers and end consumers that benefit from the products that move across the supply chain. PowerFleet is working with our shipper and carrier clients, often where the rubber literally meets the road, to implement solutions that support compliance, bolster brand sentiment and ultimately show stewardship toward the planet.”

The brilliant thing about implementing telematic solutions on a shipper or carrier’s fleet is that efforts towards energy efficiency also improve the bottom line. Elkins said that new technologies like PowerFleet’s benefit fleet efficiency by improving route plans, maximizing asset utilization and providing real-time data insights regarding driving behaviors and maintenance requirements ⁠— factors that can otherwise increase both cost and emissions. 

“Improving fuel efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability,” said Elkins. “Driving at high speeds uses much more gas and causes greater wear and tear to the engine and tires. PowerFleet provides drivers with immediate feedback when exceeding governed speed thresholds and allows our customers to configure ‘green and red zone’ RPM ranges that are monitored by our devices.”

PowerFleet’s two-way remote reefer management solution helps fleet managers ensure efficient fuel consumption through smarter pre-cooling and programming critical alerts. In fact, all PowerFleet hardware is developed with sustainability in mind to actually age with the fleet, avoiding unnecessary material waste like that of devices destined for planned obsolescence. Solar-powered devices are also available for companies that want to pursue renewable energy. 

“Our trailer-tracking, in-cab ELD and cargo-sensing devices also help customers to achieve better, longer-lasting utilization from their existing assets,” said Elkins. “This is especially important as customers are extending the life of their fleet through proactive maintenance and refurbishment as part of their sustainability program. Our driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) capabilities allow drivers to regularly inspect their vehicles for low tire pressure and other simple issues that can significantly reduce miles per gallon and create unnecessary wear and tear.”

By having constant visibility to critical data such as engine hours, fuel levels, location and consumption, drivers and fleet managers can plan proactively. Additionally, the freight cameras inside the trailer use artificial intelligence to detect how full or empty a trailer is ⁠— the kind of visibility that allows fleets to maximize utilization.

Beyond hardware, the analytics and AI solutions that come alongside the telematics devices help customers gain more predictability in their operations. 

“Having this level of information helps shippers and carriers improve asset utilization and drive better fuel economy, while reducing dwell time, cargo spoilage, and asset wear and tear, “ said Elkins. “Real-time insight into the location and status of equipment minimizes empty trailer moves, reduces tractor (and driver) idle time and improves transportation fleet efficiency. PowerFleet technologies are designed to ensure sustainability and profitability go hand in hand.”