2020 was a major showcase of the vital importance of the trucking industry to the United States. In early 2020, daily life in America and pretty much around the world came to a stop because of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Statistics indicate that the trucking industry will move close to 12.3 billion tons of freight in 2020. All that freight helped generate $732.3 billion in revenue. Even though the whole country was under lockdown for a good few months, trucking still boasted a strong year.
With 2021 coming to an end, let’s take a look at the trucking industry and assess the main trends for the year.
Freight Trucking in 2020
It’s no surprise that COVID-19 led to a decrease in the amount of work the freight trucking industry saw in 2020. As a result, the amount of freight moved by the trucking industry fell by 13.6% in 2020. However, the revenue they earned as a proportion of all freight industries remained the same at approximately 80%.
The trucking industry was able to maintain its revenues because it proved to be integral to the success of the COVID-19 relief program. Truckers worked day and night to ensure essential supplies reached hospitals, stores, and wherever else needed. In fact, the trucking industry is responsible for distributing 1000 gallons of sanitizer and more than 1 million masks.
2021 Trends In The Freight Trucking Industry
2021 didn’t see the end of COVID-19, but as the initial shock of the virus began to settle, a few trends emerged in the trucking industry. Here are some of the most significant ones.
1. Technological Improvements
As is the case with most other industries, a common trend in the trucking industry was significant technological improvements. The technological advancements weren’t just restricted to the trucks themselves. One of the most powerful and necessary improvements came in the corporate offices of trucking companies.
For the longest time, trucking companies would use the most outdated and illogical forms of documentation. However, that’s all starting to change with organizations employing multiple different software programs to help make the operations efficient.
With more streamlined operations, trucking organizations can grow to their fullest potential. When it comes to trucks, technology is improving at a rapid speed. Trucks now feature far better technology than they ever had before. In addition, an increasing number of trucks are starting to employ innovative technology in an attempt to improve the overall safety and functionality of the vehicle significantly.
Accountability in the industry is increasing as trucking carriers are starting to invest in technology that helps them keep track of their orders better. Not only does this help improve the overall accountability, but it also improves customer relations for the carriers. As a result, they can effectively relay the necessary information to the customers buying the goods.
If a trucking company always keeps the customer in the loop, they’re more likely to retain the buyer and get more business. In addition, with more and more technological advancements on the way, the trucking industry will continue to become more efficient and perform better.
2. Increasing Influence of E-commerce
Another prevailing trend in the trucking industry through 2021 is the increasing influence the E-commerce industry continues to play. E-commerce is starting to provide more and more business to trucking carriers. It’s a trend that’s been consistently occurring for a few years now, and this year was no different.
With the number of goods available online and how easy it is to make a purchase, more people than ever before prefer to shop online now. But, regardless of how much the e-commerce industry grows, it’s a matter of the fact that it can’t function without the trucking industry.
E-commerce is entirely dependent on trucks to help deliver their goods from one place to another. Thanks to this relationship, as the e-commerce industry grows, it’s only natural that the trucking industry will grow as well. As a result, trucking carriers can safely expect the influence of e-commerce to grow in the coming years.
While there have been some improvements in the industry, many trucking owners are bankrupt and shut down now. In addition, both large and small trucking organizations suffer because of the harsh market conditions.
As the organizations continue to close down, more and more truckers are starting to lose their jobs as a consequence. One of the main reasons so many trucking companies are closing down is that there’s a significant shortage in the movement of goods. Retailers aren’t shifting their goods as much as they used to before. Consequently, a lot of trucking carriers are going under.
The only way this trend of closures will change is if there’s a significant uptake in the retail industry. Many experts predict that after the downturn in activity this year, the following year will be much better for the retail and trucking industry.
4. Declining Prices
The trucking industry isn’t in a particularly good position in 2021 as the number of trucking organizations continues to decrease. As the overall amount of business they receive declines, trucking carriers reduce their prices out of fear that they will lose customers.
As the carriers cut the prices, the pay for the truckers fell as well. Truckers are now operating at prices that fall under the historically low category. Due to the low pay, there’s a steady increase in the overall trucker turnover. Even though truckers are also losing their jobs, the industry still faces a shortage of drivers.
However, a majority of truckers that are operating within the industry are bullish about the economy. They feel like 2022 will be a year of growth and will help improve the sector significantly.
5. Fuel Issues
Environmental concerns are starting to get stronger year by year, and the trucking industry is beginning to come under pressure. Like every automobile manufacturer, attempts are being made to shift away from fuel and move towards a more environmentally friendly solution.
Another main concern that the trucking industry is encountering is the rising fuel prices. Fuel prices are increasing globally, and gas prices are continuing to rise. Moreover, future projections indicate that fuel prices will only rise in the coming years.
While electric trucks are becoming more popular, it doesn’t automatically fix all the problems trucking organizations face. They don’t require any fuel, but they are expensive. Only the largest trucking companies currently have the capital to change their trucks from petrol to electric.
6. Shortage of Truck Drivers
The trucking industry has always had a shortage of truck drivers, and 2021 was no exception. Generally, 2021 saw an increase in the number of drivers in the industry. However, this increase was not enough to meet demand.
A lot of factors contribute to this shortage of labor, such as demanding working hours and long-distance travel. The current demographic of truck drivers are also primarily men over 45, with recruiters struggling to get younger drivers, most of whom they lose to other blue-collar jobs.
This shortage could likely get even higher in the upcoming year if vaccine mandates are imposed on truck drivers. Currently, carriers can make a hire after an average of 9 job postings – but this could go up in 2022.
7. Internet of Things
One of the biggest trends to hit the trucking industry in 2021 is the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. These developments mean that we’re quite near to the first self-driving truck in the industry, which can completely transform the industry.
IoT also makes it very easy to keep track of all the maintenance that needs to happen within your fleet. New software and IoT sensors can keep track of the condition of all your trucks and alert you when a vehicle needs servicing – even before an employee can detect an issue.
IoT technology also refers to the use of robots in warehouses. These machines (or robots) can make processes such as loading and unloading cargo quicker and easier. Fully or semi-automated machines save time and increase efficiency, allowing your fleet to finish more orders in a day.
What To Do For 2022
The year 2021 was full of many ups and downs for the trucking industry. However, some trends indicate that the next year is going to be strong. In contrast, others are indicators of potential issues that might arise in the future.
With the economic recovery that’s expected in 2022 and the constant improvements in technology, the future looks strong for the trucking industry. Even though trucking carriers are closing, the ones that are surviving are those that are getting ahead of the curve and integrating all the new technology coming their way.
However, implementing these new technologies can be a bit complex if you’re not used to them. We at Integratz can help simplify these technologies for you. With our help, you can integrate the use of these new automated solutions that will help you save time and money. So, get in touch with us today.