Between major elections, shifting environmental attitudes, and the Covid-19 pandemic: 2020 was a remarkable year, to say the least. When it comes to the shipping industry, a number of new automotive shipping trends developed during the past year. Each of these bear careful consideration moving forward.
While many of these changes affected everything from OTR, sea and air freight, the trucking industry probably felt it the most.
In this article, we will examine 5 of the most important automotive shipping trends taking place right now that you need to pay attention to as the shipping industry continues to return to normal but with a few critical changes.
A Push for Environmental Sustainability Changes Automotive Shipping Trends
Environmental initiatives have been growing in popularity for years, and these initiatives are a major priority of the current administration. The Biden administration has set a target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, in addition to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% (from 2005 levels) by the year 2030. Among instituting changes in other areas of industry, the plan includes reducing tailpipe emissions and increasing the efficiency standards of all vehicles.
These changes are likely to have downstream effects on the shipping industry. These changes, at this time, are not completely clear. However, it is safe to assume it will have a tremendous impact on the trucking industry specifically.
Pay close attention to this trend. It is likely that environmental initiatives will be a priority for many years to come.
Diminished Capacity for Shipping
Known in the shipping industry as “capacity crunch”, this decreased shipping capacity has resulted from a lack of new workers entering into the freight industry. When this happens, the workers who retire or leave the field for some other reason have no one to replace them.
Capacity crunch tends to happen in a strong economy, which we saw in 2019. A strong economy means more job options which, in turn, generally translates to fewer individuals entering specific industries. Unfortunately, the industries that are affected the most are usually the ones that host our most important careers, trucking included.
As we emerge into a post-Covid-19 era, it’s unclear which direction the capacity crunch will go next. However, it could continue to be an issue that impacts the freight industry moving forward. We highly recommend preparing for this potential.
Driverless Vehicles is One of The Biggest Automotive Shipping Trends
While there have been some hurdles that driverless vehicles have had to overcome, automated technology is the way of the future. The various car companies such as Uber and Tesla have already implemented driverless vehicles. There is good reason to believe that the freight industry may soon follow suit.
The company TuSimple has already tested driverless freight technology by hauling cargo on a nearly 1,000-mile trip early in 2021. Interestingly, the trial run cut down the travel time by nearly 10 hours from what it would typically take a human driver. It should be noted: there was a human driver on board for the duration of the trip, but the truck drove itself for the majority of the route.
As this technology is perfected, driverless trucks may become the norm in the automotive shipping industry.
Mandated Electronic Logging
In the past few years, the U.S. government began to require that all auto carriers maintain tracking devices that record how long drivers have been working. This regulation, known as the ELD mandate, was instituted in an attempt to avoid accidents by exhausted and overworked drivers. While the safety implications are undoubtedly positive effects of this mandate, it does come with downsides: labor costs tend to increase and deliveries can take longer.
It seems likely that this mandate will remain in place. However, the increased delivery time and labor costs are offset by new technology and automation.
Specific Trends Related to Covid-19
The new attention paid to health and disease avoidance has implications far and wide in the shipping industry. Many professionals were able to work from home or were mandated to shelter-in-place at the height of the pandemic. Unfortunately, those in the shipping industry had no such ability. Their jobs were essential and had to continue, no matter what.
As a result, it became critical that everyone in the shipping industry eliminated face-to-face interactions whenever possible. Additionally, that drivers avoided contact with other people when traveling through areas with high infection rates. This meant that, at times, drivers had to change their plans and methods in order to maintain Covid compliance.
It’s impossible to say what the future will hold for the shipping industry as a whole, and even more so for the trucking segment. However, in order to move forward in the most advantageous way is to pay attention to trends. Industry trends are tell-tale signs of how the industry is reacting or going to react to certain changes.
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