How Has Trucking Changed from 10 Years Ago?
Changes in the trucking and freight industries come from deregulation, greater global marketing, and innovations in tracking and communications technologies. Global positioning systems have made routing and planning easier, and GPS applications on mobile devices help shipping companies and independent operators reduce their operating costs. Logistics companies have begun to play larger roles by acting as agents for online ordering, which reduces the need for extensive field personnel and dedicated office support. Mobile communications options eliminate the need for drivers to stop for phone calls and instructions.
Reader technologies, tags and intelligent government initiatives allow drivers to speed up delivery confirmations, bypass inspections, and clear weighing stations with PrePass clearances. The National Customs Automated Prototype System expedites border crossings, eliminating long inspections of cargoes. In addition, intermodal transfers among trucks, railroads, and other carriers increasingly involve less physical handling of cargoes and greater automation.
Trucking Industry Increases Freight
Motor carriers have greater responsibilities for tracking freight, meeting deadlines, and providing logistical support in complex global supply chains than ever before. Flexibility and on-time delivery have helped the truck-transportation industry gain a larger share of total freight tonnage. Estimates from the American Truck Association put total tonnage figures at 5.5 billion tons or 35 percent of total freight.
- Truckload revenue figures top $310 billion annually, which makes up about 40 percent of transportation revenue.
- Driver shortages have become an increasing concern in the industry. National advertising, legislative efforts, tuition assistance and other initiatives seek to train new generations of drivers to meet the demand.
- Wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers and logistics companies work together in an increasingly close partnership to make the trucking industry more efficient.
Truck Equipment Changes
Truck technology continues to advance, and antilock brakes, rearview cameras and collision avoidance systems make driving safer. Drivers need to take fewer breaks for communications purposes, so cabs have received ergonomic upgrades to make driving more pleasant. Drivers no longer can only communicate with nearby drivers by CB radio but can reach anyone through Bluetooth technology. Console layouts, seating and safety features now contribute to truck comfort and safety that rival the most expensive luxury vehicles.
Emissions technologies and environmental obsolescence create greater demand for new trucks and upgrades. These requirements could cause a financial burden for some independent owner/operators, but increased fuel efficiency of only 0.5 miles per gallon could save $4,600 for drivers running 100,000 miles per year.
Food Safety Modernization Act
The Food Safety Modernization Act has increased the regulations that pertain to sanitary shipping of food commodities, vegetables and fruits. Tracking technology allows drivers to keep records of where each pallet of food originates and goes for delivery. The new rules cost about half a billion dollars annually, split among truckers, farmers and sellers.
Smart Technology Changes Trucking Industry
Smart technologies, changing dynamics, and stricter regulations result in a very different trucking environment than drivers faced only 10 years ago, and some drivers welcome the changes but others long for simpler times. Changes in the industry tend to favor fleet operators over independent truckers. Economic uncertainty for smaller shipping operations characterized much of the past decade, but positive trends continue to drive demand for truckers in the United States and throughout the world.
Even smaller carriers can compete with larger companies by adopting new technologies that allow them to track shipments, schedule deliveries precisely and provide better customer service. Owner/operators can manage their businesses while driving, reducing the need for office support. Online ordering, independent logistics companies and satellite communications allow drivers to cut expenses, stay in touch with their families and improve the quality of life for truckers so that many men and women now pursue this career path. Overall, changes in the past decade offer a positive trend for the industry, at least for drivers willing to change with the times.