In the US, trucking is big business. Moving products from point A to point B is one of the most important jobs out there, as it ensures that companies and consumers are more connected than ever. With an abundance of on-demand technology and services, though, this monumental industry is undergoing some significant changes. Today we’ll analyze where the trucking industry will go from here and into the future.
How Important is Trucking?
To put it mildly, this single industry is the lifeblood of commerce in the country. Without a reliable way to bring products to consumers, we would all be required to buy locally, or as local as we could get with our own cars. With the exception of remote places like Hawaii (which rely on other transportation methods due to their location), trucking is a cornerstone of any business operating here or anywhere else in the country.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year to maintain fleets and routes, and this trend is not going to stop anytime soon. Until a more efficient method of transportation can be invented, trucks are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that things are perfect as is. Several different factors will affect the industry and shape its future.
First and foremost, younger generations are just not into driving trucks across the country. This is a result of many variables, including people not wanting to be away from families or the job not being desirable enough, but the fact is that there is a massive shortage of drivers. Unfortunately, this trend will only continue unless young people start driving in droves.
So what does this mean for the industry as a whole? Well, first of all, efficiency and logistics are much more valuable than ever before. Since every fleet has more routes than drivers, they are looking at ways to maximize their effectiveness. One method is to have trucks on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not only that, but they are planning better routes and upgrading vehicles to be more fuel efficient. This has become standard procedure when looking to improve the bottom line.
One other issue with scarcity is that many companies rely on brokers. These are the people who put trucks and clients together, and that doesn’t always mean that there are plenty of jobs to go around. Considering that many fleets have only a few vehicles and the fact that many drivers are independent owner/operators, this leaves a lot of open space in the middle. This will cause large companies that rely on commerce (such as Amazon) to source their own fleets so that they can manage them without having to rely on brokers or independent contractors.
More than anything else, this trend is affecting the trucking industry the most. As more and more people shop online rather than in the store, deliveries are becoming a significant part of any consumer-based business. Even products that would normally not be shipped (such as car parts or lawn equipment) are now being delivered on demand. This is thanks largely in part to e-commerce giants like Amazon who raised the bar by offering better results to their customers.
So what does this mean exactly for flatbed trucking companies and the industry as a whole? First of all, it will lead to an increase in demand as more people want items shipped, regardless of the distance. Secondly, it will lead to more diversification of fleets as companies will have to rely on parcel delivery trucks and other smaller vehicles to handle the last mile services. Considering that customers want items delivered to their home, office, or anywhere else in between, companies that can adapt to those needs will be much better off.
As a result, we can probably assume that most smaller fleets or independent owner/operators will start to go out of business. While there will still be plenty of demand for long-distance trucking with flatbeds and full truck loads, companies want more reliability, which means adaptation to a changing landscape. Larger fleets can invest more capital to make these changes whereas smaller ones cannot.
These days, customers want fast delivery and want to know exactly where their items are and when they will arrive. In years past, people were far more patient and assumed that it would take days or possibly weeks to get a shipment. But, thanks to recent innovations, that timeframe has been slashed by a huge margin. Considering that Amazon Prime guarantees two-day delivery for many of its products, other companies have to keep up.
This will mean that trucks have to be checking in to show where they are at and when they will arrive at their next stop. Since people like to stay on top of these things, shipping and delivery notifications will continue to become the norm, and those who don’t play by those rules will be shut out.
We’ve already discussed a bit about the fact that logistics is becoming far more crucial as fewer people want to drive. Part of the solution will be to rely on machines to do as much as possible to fill in the gaps. Currently, automated processes and software are improving brokerage services and planning, but considering that a lot of money is being spent on driverless cars means that we could one day be looking at a future where trucks drive themselves.
Overall, automation is a key strategy to any company looking for new ways to adapt to the changing landscape. Amazon is testing out drone delivery service while other businesses are trying to automate the drive as much as possible. This will not only increase productivity, but it will ensure better results as human error is removed from the equation.
In the end, trucking will continue to be a significant part of the cultural and economic landscape of the United States, and it will adapt as needed to ensure that people get what they want. The industry has thrived on innovation before, and it will continue to do so well into the future.
If you are interested in getting a flatbed trucking job, then visit Alco Transportation today. Alco has been an industry leader for years, and it is committed to bringing the best quality to each shipment. See what Alco can offer you today.