The trucking industry fuels the U.S. economy, transporting over 10.5 billion tons of freight annually. With a huge weight on their shoulders, trucking service providers are beginning to seek new ways to improve efficiency and drive down transportation and labor costs. Subsequently, these changes are creating waves upstream in truck trailer manufacturing.
Luckily, emerging trends in automation, logistics and the workforce are reshaping the industry landscape by day, leading companies to adopt new processes.
Below, we outline four major trends driving change in trucking and truck trailer manufacturing.
1. Fully Autonomous Vehicles
Car manufacturers, such as Volvo, Daimler and Tesla have already made huge strides to bring fully autonomous vehicles to market in the next five years. These self-driving trucks are designed to lower the cost of labor and cargo transport, reduce emissions and improve traffic flow.
New autonomous vehicles are also equipped with sensors and cameras to improve safety on the road, even amid inclement weather. However, until autonomous trucks have the capacity to haul freight long distances, truck platooning remains one of the best methods to reduce emissions—a practice just now being tested in the U.S.
For now, platooning is used to ensure connected semi-autonomous trucks drive at a safe distance behind one another to reduce air drag. But, the trucking industry could expect to see fully autonomous vehicles rolling out in the not-so-distant future.
2. Improved Logistics and Diagnostic Technologies
Approximately 63.5 million trucks will be connected by 2025. As trucking companies begin to implement new technology to improve freight management, digital logistics will become vital in the commercial vehicle industry.
Technologies, such as automated freight matching, video safety and diagnostic services, are already transforming the industry. Now, managers are using real-time data to keep tabs on shipments, improve the supply chain and enhance transparency.
As a result, the trucking industry has seen more integration of the
3. The Fluctuating Regulatory Landscape
Trucking services must adapt to the constantly changing regulatory landscape. Companies need to consider regulation changes on the local, state and national levels to ensure they obey all laws regarding topics, such as electronic logs, employee safety, and coercion and overtime procedures.
Service providers can refer to websites, such as FMCSA, to keep up-to-date on trends impacting the trucking industry. Understanding regulations impacting the industry will help keep you one step ahead of the competition and will ensure you provide all services to standard.
4. The Aging Workforce
Trucking is currently one of the nation’s top occupations. However, as the workforce continues to age, the trucking industry is expected to experience a driver shortage in the coming years. The shortage is expected to surge to approximately 175,000 drivers by 2024, raising concerns for industry leaders.
Retiring truck drivers are becoming harder to replace. The American Trucking Association’s chief economist, Bob Costello, reported that 88 percent of carriers said most driver applicants are not qualified. As this trend continues, the industry will continue to experience a shrinking qualified workforce.
While fully autonomous trucks may alleviate the driver shortage in the short run, automation technology may eventually pose a threat to the U.S. economy as it continues to eliminate jobs within the industry.
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