Rope in drivers for ESG compliance
What has ESG got to do with drivers? Plenty. Long haul truck drivers have a deep connection with these three critical pillars that have come to haunt the boardrooms globally. Call it shareholder activism, if you wish.
Though the contribution of the service sector is on the rise everywhere, one cannot write off manufacturing. The service sector is a support system for manufacturing. Once this manufacturing-service matrix is grasped, the role of transport or trucking is a vital cog in the supply chain. Manufacturing or production of tangible goods is unimaginable without transportation: simply put, no transportation, no manufacturing.
Let us not forget we are living in an age of outsourcing. Every product needs ingredients for making, which ancillary industries supply from near and afar. Manufacturers don’t send your workforce to fetch these raw materials/components as headload. Transport is sought after for this purpose. Similarly, when products are ready, the sales professionals do not carry headloads to market shelves to satisfy the customers’ needs. There again, transportation assistance is sought. Transportation, as of now, is not automated. Driverless trucks are still in an experimental stage, thus necessitating truck drivers.
What is the connection between drivers and ESG? There is a concerted move to explore all avenues to combat carbon emission. Indian trucks still primarily run on non-renewable fuel: diesel. A major chunk of revenue for oil marketing companies comes from diesel sales. Ethanol and biodiesel usage has begun in small measure. As such, diesel-driven truck drivers’ contribution to the carbon emission malady is phenomenal. This is nothing short of environmental degradation, thus covering the “E” part of the ESG tag.
How can drivers help to mitigate the environmental damage? Better driving is one of the solutions. Truck makers may trundle out better vehicles to combat carbon emissions to meet the government mandate. Ultimately, it is the drivers who steer the vehicle. Since a majority of Indian truck drivers have never entered the portals of any Driver Training Institutes (DTIs) — because they did not exist for decades — for proper education but learned the ropes through the equally untrained seniors (fathers, uncles, brothers, neighbors), a continuous and rigorous driving training on fuel-saving aspects especially is the need of the hour.
Luckily, fuel-saving techniques will be a surefire winner with drivers. Why? The prevailing compensation structure of truck drivers is a combination of per kilometer driven plus the diesel unspent at the end of the journey. Drivers sell the remaining diesel to fuel stations at a discount to the pump rate. It is not unusual for drivers to enter into an arrangement with motormaliks to encash the unspent diesel again at a discount.
Harsh braking and running the vehicle in neutral gear on the descent are not good driving techniques. Less than adequate tire pressure increases fuel consumption, which impacts drivers’ earnings. Any steps to save fuel are most welcome from the drivers’ perspective. Overspeeding again is a fuel-guzzler. Despite the mandated speed governor, overspeeding is a daily occurrence.
Today’s trucks sport advanced onboard electronic gadgets that monitor and alert the control tower of such mistreatment of trucks. How much of such data collection via GPS and other equipment is used to improve vehicle efficiency and enhance overall operational performance? By and large, most fleet owners installed GPS under compulsion from shippers as part of supply chain visibility. Beyond that, very little data analysis is attempted. Strict monitoring of such vital data and actions initiated on the findings would automatically enhance fuel efficiency and thus contribute to combating environmental degradation.
There is a lot of hype among the 3PLs of green logistics in the transportation segment. The deployment of electric vehicles is a baby step in this direction because EVs are yet to make inroads in the long haul segment due to the absence of adequate EV infrastructure in the form of charging stations.
We will return to the social and governance elements of ESG and its relevance to drivers soon.