Oh, the open road, where dreams are fueled by diesel and endless possibilities are just around the bend.
All right, so perhaps we’re not all waxing poetic about the trucking industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting. Especially when you get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.
Since the pandemic, the trucking industry has experienced steady year-over-year growth, with increases both in trucking jobs and demand for freight services. As technology continues to advance within the industry, we can expect to see changes across the board, including automated processes, green vehicles, and an increased reliance on analytics.
The future is truckin’ on in, and we’re here to ride shotgun. Here are some of the most prevalent trends in the trucking industry we can’t wait to see more of.
1. Increased Demand
Ready for some pretty cool numbers?
As of 2023, the trucking industry moves about 72% of all freight in America, and it’s only expected to increase. E-commerce businesses like Amazon and Walmart (which make up half of all e-commerce combined) are heavily reliant on trucking services. As more and more businesses shift to online shopping, fleet sizes are adjusting accordingly.
The result? An incredible increase in demand and trucking jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to grow by 4% over the next decade. And while the truck driver shortage has been decreasing since 2021, there are still an estimated 78,000 trucking jobs that are unfilled, meaning employers might have to pay higher wages to attract and retain talent.
2. Improved Efficiency
All this increased demand means inevitable growing pains as the industry adjusts. Just adding more trucks to a fleet isn’t enough—fleet managers need to up their efficiency, too.
Automation, for example, is helping fleet managers reduce costs and meet rising customer demands. Automated technologies like scheduling systems let fleets better manage their resources and keep track of upcoming PMs.
And let’s not forget about snazzy software solutions dishing out top-notch analytics for planning routes—because who wouldn’t want to shave off a few minutes from their travel time? More insights into estimated travel times and fuel efficiency help fleet managers make smarter decisions.
So while the shortage of truck drivers still seems to be with us, organizational technologies can help us fill the gap and scale with an industry that just keeps growing.
3. Technological Advancements
Just like, well, every other industry on the planet right now, artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge topic in the future of trucking.
Machine learning is a fantastic tool for fleet managers to keep in their back pocket. AI can process incredible amounts of data in the blink of an eye, then compile the numbers into something valuable and actionable that helps fleet managers make meaningful changes.
Having those AIs actually drive the trucks is probably still a ways off. But for now, they’re powerful data analysis tools that can help fleet managers plan out efficient routes, improve driver safety on the road, and extend asset lifespan.
There’s also exciting advancements in the world of smart trailers. Not to be confused with smart cars—you know, the cars that can barely fit a piece of carry-on luggage—smart trailers are just like regular trailers, but they feature onboard CPUs and sensors that gather and relay data to the user.
Integrated sensors provide minute-to-minute updates on trailer locations and the status of their cargo. This can include information on brakes, wheels, weight, and lamps. Not only can smart trailers report this data in real time, but over time, fleets can leverage this data to make more efficient decisions.
On a list of “most sustainable industries,” trucking isn’t exactly highly ranked. So as environmental regulations become increasingly strict worldwide, we’re seeing sustainability become a top concern for fleets.
In December 2022, California air regulators approved a plan that aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045—meaning that industries overall must reduce fossil fuel demand by 86%. The trucking industry, which emits an estimated 30% of all carbon dioxide, will be pressed hard to reach those numbers.
But it’s not all scary news. Manufacturers are already producing electric, hydrogen, and battery-powered trucks instead of traditional diesel engines. There’s also continued work toward reducing emissions from the traditional diesel engine, too.
And while these types of engines are more costly—and in the case of battery-powered trucks, limited in terms of functionality—zero-emission trucks will become increasingly affordable in the years to come. Sometime in the future, this technology may just replace combustion engines entirely.
Into the Future with Fullbay
So there you have it, folks—the open road of the trucking industry’s future, laid out before us like an endless stretch of asphalt.
Change is cruising toward us at top speed, but don’t let that scare you. Just keep your eyes on the horizon, your hands on the wheel, and your foot on the gas. As long as you’re ready to adapt and evolve with the industry, there’s no telling what wild and wonderful adventures await you and your team.
One thing’s for sure—Fullbay’s got your back, no matter what twists and turns lie ahead. Our fleet maintenance and management software helps you schedule regular maintenance, keep track of upcoming PMs, guide technicians through comprehensive inspections, estimate the total cost of ownership…we could keep going, but you’re better off seeing it for yourself.
Check out a demo and let’s chat!