Route optimisation Trends | 5 MIN READ

Harness the optimization of mobility to your CSR goals

 Oct 6, 2021

Optimizing movements and controlling mobility are becoming indispensable in reconciling economic performance and social and environmental responsibility for all companies whose business model is based on mobile teams.

CSR (corporate social responsibility) is no longer “the cherry on the cake” nor the “extra touch of soul” in what companies do. Increasingly rigorous, it is obliging companies to make social and environmental commitments, and to account for their actions and outcomes in extra-financial reporting documents. In France, the requirement to produce a statement of extra-financial performance (DPEF) currently only affects the largest companies, namely:

  • listed companies turning over more than 40 million euros and/or with more than 500 employees;
  • non-listed companies turning over more than 100 million euros and/or with more than 500 employees;

Currently that represents around 3800 companies. But, starting in 2023, this obligation will be extended to companies with more than 250 employees and to virtually all companies with a stock market listing (with 10 employees or more).

Cutting CO2 is the priority

If the choice of CSR priorities has long been left to each company’s discretion, the challenges are now focusing on just a few subjects, foremost among which is – courtesy of the climate emergency – cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is therefore only logical that companies whose business activities are based on field service calls and mobile teams are focusing their efforts on reducing transport-related CO2 emissions.

This is all the more obviously a priority for the largest such companies as, since 2011, they have been required to produce an audit of their GHG emissions every 4 years (BEGES). All companies with more than 500 employees are subject to this requirement. Failure to conduct this audit may result in a fine, which the Energy and Climate Act of 8 November 2019 set at an amount of €10,000 (€20,000 for a repeat offence), compared with €1500 previously. Moreover, this audit needs to be accompanied by a “transition plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions setting out the targets, resources, the associated action plan and, as the case may be, the actions taken during the previous audit” (article L229-25 of the Environmental Code).

Approaching the subject from a regulatory standpoint merely underlines the need for these companies to quantify their GHG emissions and measure the outcomes of the actions taken to reduce them. Field Service Management tools make a valuable contribution to companies in enabling them to plan routes and create service call schedules minimizing mileage and maximizing the number of team calls, as well as vehicle utilization rates. Aware that the vast majority of actors are still using internal combustion engines, this optimization translates of necessity into lower fuel consumption and, consequently, a reduction in CO2 emissions. The immediate benefit of the optimization for the company?

  • Between 10% and 30% savings on fuel bills and the number of vehicles.
  • Productivity increases of the same order of magnitude for mobile co-workers enabled to achieve more calls or denser routes every day without spending more time on the road.

The starting point of a virtuous circle

Admittedly, this approach only covers transport-related CO2 emissions, which themselves are only part of a company’s direct emissions, known as “scope 1”*. A proper carbon/GHG audit must of course capture scope 1 in its entirety and, frequently a more complex task, the indirect emissions throughout the company’s value chain (scopes 2 and 3). Tackling the issue via transport-related emissions is however already a significant step for all those transport companies and field services which, not having previously been under any legal obligation as regards a GHG audit because of their size, nevertheless wish to demonstrate that they are acting responsibly and tangibly as regards the climate.

This is even more important as a growing number of clients, both public and private, are asking the service providers, subcontractors and transport companies they use to quantify their CO2 emissions to avoid increasing their own carbon footprint. Otherwise expressed, controlling CO2 emissions has become a condition for winning certain contracts. Complying with this condition by optimizing your routes as of now is therefore one way of protecting your future business. It is also the starting point for a virtuous circle: fuel savings because of lower mileage can, for example, accelerate your investment in electric vehicles, with a corresponding improvement in your field activities’ carbon footprint, will make your company more eligible for the contracts you are targeting, and will shelter you from thetravel restrictions/bans that local authorities are increasingly imposing on internal combustion vehicles.

A holistic view of company performance

Prioritizing the reduction in GHG emissions must not obscure the other aspects of CSR and what is known as “sustainable development”. The systemic view, based on the concepts of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, has made considerable progress within society. Extra-financial reporting requirements are merely endorsing a major historic shift: the inclusion of non-financial criteria in the way a company’s performance and value are evaluated, given that financial profitability is no longer – can no longer be – a company’s sole purpose. The recent emergence in French law of the status of “company with a mission”, with a wider social purpose, is a manifestation of this change (PACTE Act [Action plan for company growth and transformation] enacted 16 May 2019).

Of course, financial profitability criteria remain preponderant in determining a company’s value. They will remain so provided accounting standards do not compel companies to show damage to the environment, to personal dignity, to community cohesion etc. as liabilities on their balance sheet. The fact remains that these dimensions – social, societal, and environmental – are increasingly attracting scrutiny not just by civil society, NGOs, and trade union organizations, but by investors as well. This is evidenced by the development of ESG** audits, whereby investors now ensure that companies in which they are considering investing are behaving responsibly, both environmentally and with respect to their stakeholders – employees, partners, suppliers, subcontractors, and customers.

Beyond the specific case of investors/buyers, your company’s social and environmental policy has a direct and growing impact on an absolutely vital factor for your company: your ability to attract, recruit and retain the co-workers you need. Quite legitimately, you wish to recruit “the best”. But who are “the best”? Those who have options, precisely because they are competent, but who will only choose your company and commit to it if they identify with its values, and if they like the working conditions being offered them. In every field service job, or job involving daily travel, the time spent on the road and the way in which hours are managed to comply with labor legislation are crucial criteria in retaining co-workers, be they maintenance technicians, installers, drivers-delivery personnel, or experts in a highly sophisticated field. Here again, tools for optimizing mobility and managing field operations enable you to make tangible improvements to your mobile co-workers’ working conditions, not only by reducing the time they spend on the road and the stress it causes, but also by lightening the administrative workload they are under by means of well-thought-through business applications for mobility situations.

* Scope 1: direct GHG emissions caused by the burning of fossil energies and resources possessed or controlled by the company; scope 2: indirect GHG emissions associated with energy consumption; scope 3: all other indirect GHG situations (supplies, transport, use, product end of life…)

** Analysis preceding an investment or company takeover project looking at the target company’s Environmental, Social and Governance practices.


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