The trucking industry and Kentucky Truck Show, that is organized every year, are becoming synonyms, and one can’t be mentioned without another. Among more than really good trucking events and conferences that are happening every year MATS or Mid-America Trucking Show held in Louisville, Kentucky is the best, biggest and most popular trucking industry event in the United States of America.
The first event took place in 1972, and ever since then it continued growing and grew into industry leading event. Today, 45 years after that, MATS is the brightest star among all other trucking events.
This year more than 70,000 people visited MATS, with more that thousands of companies exhibiting their latest products and service on more than one million sqr feet of exhibition space.
I happen to have a privilege of visiting the MATS this year, as well as to witness the introduction of some amazing new products and services. It seems to me that the trucking industry in the US is in great shape, and is evolving more than ever into a competitive player on the market. It is serving the changing habits (online purchases) of the majority of customers.
There is a lot of new companies that are disrupting the old markets and are changing the way people operate and do business. New ways of doing old business are bringing the change into everyday trucking world and make it easier to do, more efficient and at the end more profitable.
Of course, those changes are not always welcomed by some stockholders of the trucker community, but at the end who are we to stop the wheel of change. Brokers are not impressed with companies that want to squeeze out their business such as NYC-based Transfix.
I will mention 7 Trucking Industry Changing Trends that in my opinion will redefine and change the trucking industry significantly over the next 5 years. I would also like to hear opinions of other people. What do you think will happen and how are we all going to deal with the change?
The self-driving technology already exists in the trucking industry for a while and it is not something new. What’s new it is that is penetrating our everyday life, and for that reason creates a lot of buzz in media.
Thereupon, the self-driving technology exists fo a decade in airplane industry, and shipping industry. But it still didn’t eliminate the need for pilots and ship captains. Ships can sail on their own on autopilot for decades, planes can fly and even land in same cases on auto pilot. Still, that technology didn’t eliminate people from controlling the planes and ships.
It is estimated that there is still 4 to 5 years of time required to have a really good and reliable self-driving technology that can be used in everyday life. Several companies are investing huge amounts into this space and betting they can develop reliable systems.
At the same time, there is a lot of legal and infrastructure modifications required to be done prior to full deployment.
This technology can’t be stopped but there is still a lot of work ahead to have it in every day use. I think car industry will introduce this technology much faster that trucking industry.
The reason for this is that in trucking you have more than 20 everyday operations truck driver need to do in order to pickup up and deliver the goods (load). A driving truck from point A to point B is just one of them.
They need to come up with the solution for the remaining 19. Such as are: fueling, maintaining, brake downs, paperwork, trailers, parking in docks/yards/warehouses, truck stop infrastructure and so on.
This technology is already here and every day we see more and more solutions on the market that are covering this space. In Kentucky, there were a lot of companies offering solutions that are making truck drivers life easier.
Most of the technology companies operating in this space put their focus on developing products that will improve one of the following components of every day truckers life:
Companies offering solutions in above-mentioned space are creating the new markets that only 5 years ago didn’t exist. This can be a good and sometimes a bad thing.
Having the advantage of the first mover in the market is sometimes crucial. But on the other hand, if you don’t use that advantage to the maximum and start building the brand there is a chance you might be swap by Asian competitors.
So. all companies operating and entering the new markets please be aware that within few years you will have a lot of competitors. Thereupon, if you don’t start preparing now for them you are risking to be cut out the market.
A new set of rules announced a while ago are on the way. This time there seems to be no additional postponing of ELD mandate. But history is showing us that we can’t be sure. If President Donald Trump decides to put this on hold we might face one more postponing.
A lot of companies are offering solutions in this space. Along with huge and top ranking companies such as Fleetmatics and Telogis, there are some new players; Basically, we can divide them into two groups:
Main disadvantages of those companies compared to the big players are:
Latest study done by Continental shows that fuel management solutions are ranked #1 on the wish list of logistics and transportation companies. It is not self-driving trucks, driving assisting technology. It is fuel management and fuel optimization.
Trucking companies need to save money and they need it now. Fuel expense is the biggest expense every trucking company has and 30% of all money goes on fuel. They want it now.
There is two different approach in this are as well:
On this year MATS, there was at least half of the hall reserve just for trucking companies oriented to recruit truck drivers. Not just trucking companies but also truck driver recruiting agencies visited MATS.
Over the next five years, the trucking industry will grow by 21%. That is to say, the entire gross tonnage is going to grow by 60%. People are changing the way they shop and this has a direct impact on a number of parcels that truck drivers are transporting every day.
More and more people are buying stuff online that trucking companies need to deliver to their homes instead of going to the store and take it directly.
For that reason, the industry is growing. There are more and more truck drivers in need to supply the increased demand. The truck driver shortage is one of the biggest problems at the moment.
Moreover, this shortage is causing trucking companies to lose a lot of money because of that. The estimations say that if the truck driver quits the job trucking company will lose on average $6,000 to replace him.
Companies are working really hard to create the environment where truck drivers are going to stay with them for a long period of time. They started behaving a lot like IT companies.
Trucking companies nowadays are offering truck drivers some perks that were unseen in this industry so far. All for the purpose of attracting and keeping them in the company. Some of the perks seen on this year MATS are:
As you can see this year MATS was very interesting experience and showed a good direction where the industry is going. We are part of really exciting moments in truck industry and we are witnessing the change on a daily base.
Is it good or bad I leave that to you to judge? If there are some interesting thoughts you’d like to share with me please feel free to comment.