This is the first of a 3-part series detailing the 15 biggest issues facing trucking industry in 2015…and beyond.
Back in December, TruckingInfo.com posted an article discussing the 15 trends to watch going forward. A number of them are issues we’ve been dealing with for years; others are relatively recent in their impact. Here are the first five:
Issue #1: Driver shortage – We’ve published numerous blogs about this ever-worsening situation…and based on this article it looks as though we’ll continue to do so. According to the American Trucking Associations, driver turnover at large fleets hit an annual 103% rate in Q2 2014…and it’s just downhill from there. The biggest issue isn’t higher pay or more home time, although both of those are important. The biggest issue is that truck driving is not the career of choice for Millennials. Companies that can find the silver bullet to attracting younger drivers will be poised to capitalize on the growing demand for shipping.
Issue #2: Tightening Capacity – A growing economy means more freight being transported and, since capacity is finite, that translates into higher rates that can be charged; between 8-10% according to a State of Logistics report. What that is forcing some lager shippers to do is increase their private fleet to cover the shortfall and guarantee deliveries get made. In addition, this tighter availability may decrease the amount of time drivers have to spend unloading and loading freight, putting the burden on the shipper to streamline processes on their end.
Issue #3: Improving Productivity – Companies need to find a way to counteract a combination of less drivers and more regulation. Long-haul carriers have already noticed a significant downturn in miles driven per week. That means companies need more trucks to compensate, but who’s going to drive them. Many carriers are looking to technology to help, including advanced routing software. Others are looking to longer combinations and heavier trucks. However, that idea is getting pushback from owner-operators, safety advocates, and labor unions.
Issue #4: Autonomous Trucking – It may be quite a while before companies have to deal with this issue, but it is coming. Driverless cars and trucks are getting a lot of attention, even though their acceptance may be years away. Carriers are also looking at “platooning” using collision-avoidance and other technology to enable groups of trucks to follow each other at what would normally be considered too close, creating a “wagon train” of trucks. Each of the trucks would effectively be digitally “connected” to one another. Platooning is probably in the not-too-distant future, but driverless trucks face a number of headwinds.
Issue #5: Longer Wait Times for New Equipment – Industry publications have published a number of articles recently about the surge in orders for Class 8 trucks. Whether this is due to company expansion or a desire for more fuel-efficient vehicles, the fact is that fleets are placing orders earlier and earlier. Even if factories build to capacity, that can mean long delivery dates. Companies also need to beware of overly optimistic projections which can lead to over-ordering. What goes up must come down, and that includes the economy.
We’ll cover five more issues of major importance in our next blog. Look for it next week.
For more information on the driver shortage, read one of our previous blogs.