5 Trucking Industry Trends for 2018

Posted by PS Energy Group on Jan 16, 2018 10:00:00 AM

iStock-835343250_web.jpgWhether your fleet is comprised of a few vehicles or several hundred, it’s essential to keep your operations moving forward and running on all cylinders. That means taking the time to stay on top of what’s trending in the industry. In the constantly shifting trucking industry, this is not exactly an easy task, but it’s one that might not be as difficult as you may think.

Many fleet managers stay on top of trends by subscribing to trade journals, reading newspapers, websites and blogs, scouring news sites, watching videos, listening to podcasts, talking to customers and colleagues, keeping a watchful eye on the competition and attending conferences and seminars. While it takes time, building a habit of learning in 2018 will help you advance your career and help you build a safer, more productive fleet.

What it takes is a commitment on your part to soak up as much information as possible — to never stop learning.

With this year just out of the starting gate, it’s not too late to make learning and being more informed a New Year’s resolution. To that end, we’ll help you get started down the right path with five key trends that industry insiders say will be driving the trucking industry in 2018.

 

  1. Driver Shortage
Look for the driver shortage to continue to be a hot topic. As the shortage from 2017 grows, trucking companies will continue to look at millennials to help close the gap. Marketing efforts by trucking companies to attract millennials will ramp up and focus on key benefits, including solid and steady pay, combined with flexibility in work-life balance. 
 
With the driver shortage will come increased costs. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), it takes 3.5 million drivers annually to haul over 10.5 billion tons of freight nationwide. With the ELD mandate in full force -- holding drivers to the maximum 50 hours of service followed by two days off -- carriers may not be able to haul as many loads as they were before the mandate was implemented.
Attracting, retaining and training drivers will become an even greater challenge, with trucking companies exploring ways to lower driver eligibility requirements, including age and years of experience.

 

  1. The Rise of E-commerce
With E-commerce going gangbusters, analysts predict that, in five years, E-commerce will control 17 percent of the broader retail market and more than 20 percent in 10 years.
 
Heavy haul trucking is moving from a hub and bulk distribution model to one where goods go directly from the warehouse to home/businesses, meaning faster transit times and precise pick-up and delivery times, such as two-hour fulfillment, same-day and next-day delivery. 
 
To compete and succeed, trucking companies will need to adapt by differentiating themselves in the marketplace. For example, companies might explore opportunities to provide clients additional services. Those services could include adding a “last mile” service with smaller vehicles, being a high-service provider with drivers who pick up and deliver on time with no damage to product, and hiring experienced and engaged employees who are on board with the company’s vision and goals.

 

  1. Technology
With liability concerns and protecting the bottom line a top concern, shippers will demand that their trucking partners are doing everything in their power to comply with product shipping requirements and federal regulations.
To meet these demands, trucking companies must stay on top of technology. Be on the lookout for more buzz centered around driver management, equipment and fuel efficiency software, as well as technology that automates labor-intensive processes, such as freight matching, rating and billing.

 

  1. Electric Vehicles
Having motors with fewer moving parts, which require less maintenance costs and have a longer life, is a huge advantage. Plus, the cost of electricity is typically less volatile than the price of petroleum-based fuels, so look for the rise in electric vehicles to accelerate and at a faster pace than expected.
But, there will be challenges — namely developing batteries that have the storage capacity for extended runs between charges and are light enough to not negatively impact freight hauling capacity.

 

  1. Fuel Costs

The start of the year saw diesel at the highest price in close to three years – look for the rise to continue. According to the Kiplinger Energy Prices Forecast, the rise is primarily due to the unpredictable political climate and conflict in Saudi Arabia, which leads to supply interruptions.

  

The trucking industry is vital to the U.S. economy. As goes the economy, so goes trucking. If trucks are hauling freight, it means consumers are spending. With an anticipated 3.4 percent industry growth through 2023 (ATA), strong demand is the main story, meaning full speed ahead for both trucking and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond.

Tags: Industry News & Reports, Fleet Management

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