The Future of Ground Transportation
Throughout the United States, ground transportation accounts for the largest share of goods shipped. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), trucks carried about 62% of the goods shipped in 2018.
In the last 10 years, the ground transportation industry experienced changes in shipment tracking, safer roadways, and multimodal transportation. The future of ground transportation will build and add to these changes.
Some companies like Volvo, Tesla, and Daimler are trying to develop self-driving trucks, which would be a major innovation and disruption in the industry. However, that innovation is much less likely than others already underway.
Even if the trucks of tomorrow will still have drivers, transportation and logistics companies can expect changes in the world of ground transportation over the next 10 years.
Here are three major developments to look out for.
Tomorrow’s Trucks Will Be Greener
The interconnected global economy makes it difficult for economists to estimate fuel prices far in the future. However, more fuel efficient trucks will always mean less expensive shipping. In the next ten years, expect to see trucks become greener.
One way truck manufacturers are already moving in this direction is by redesigning their trucks. First, new materials and new combinations of materials create lighter weight vehicles.
Some manufacturers have increased their use of fiber-reinforced polymer resins, metal-plastic combinations, and layered metals with lower density and less weight. Others want to redesign the steel frame of the truck.
Reducing this frame or removing it altogether would make trailers lighter and more aerodynamic. These lighter weight trucks and trailers would be more fuel efficient, and therefore shipping could become even more cost efficient.
In essence, a trailer is a box on wheels. Manufacturers of trailers and trucks are also trying to develop aerodynamic design solutions to increase fuel efficiency. Many trucks already utilize side skirts and trailer tails to reduce drag.
These external add-ons can already reduce drag up to 26%, according to a 2013 study. Some manufacturers are experimenting with new designs for trucks to decrease drag. For example, Tesla, Nikola, and Walmart have developed prototypes with sleek, futuristic designs.
New technologies also allow trucks to use less fuel. Idle Smart can automate truck engines and batteries to allow drivers and fleets to reduce fuel consumption during idling.
Next-generation GPS devices may also help drivers get to destinations faster, using less fuel. Finally, some of the companies investing in driverless technology development are also developing hybrid and electric semi trucks.
Ground Transportation Will Be Linked to “The Internet of Things”
Many trucks and trailers are already connected to the internet. This allows shipping and logistics companies the opportunity to track shipments accurately, increasing efficiency of transportation and decreasing the cost of shipping.
This trend will only continue in the next 10 years, and ground transportation will become even more tied to the internet. “The trailer is going to become a rolling database,” Robert Lane, vice president of product engineering at Wabash National Corp, told Transportation Topics
“There will be more connectivity, more electronics and more data gathering on the trailer. All of this data will help fleets improve operations and be more efficient.” Wabash is the leading manufacturer of semi trailers in North America.
Trailers of the future may be able to detect maintenance issues before they become a problem. Logistics companies could remotely monitor important parts of the trailer through sensors.
Elements like tire pressure, wheel bearing temperature, lighting, and brakes could be monitored for issues before a problem occurs. This monitoring would decrease truck breakdowns and delayed shipments.
Connectivity and the Internet of Things may also lead to more effective loading and unloading. Sensors inside trailers could match cargo with unloading points, while goods inside a warehouse could be connected to specific trailers.
Some manufactures have considered trailer designs with an open-top, which would allow goods to be loaded overhead with a robotic crane. Robotics and radio-frequency identification (RFID) already increase the speed and efficiency inside warehouses, and this technology could be further combined with loading and unloading.
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E-Commerce Will Change Ground Transportation
In 2016, BTS estimated that goods travelling by ground went less than 100 miles between origin and destination. E-commerce and more warehouses may shorten that distance even more.
Previously, retailers ordered goods from manufacturers and customers purchased those goods in a brick-and-mortar store. Today, offline sales are still 10 times higher than online sales, but the online market is growing, especially among younger people.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute believes an increase in online sales will increase urban warehouses and the number of smaller trucks delivering packages from warehouses to consumers.
Consumers also expect faster and faster delivery times, which further disrupts the traditional industry. Instead of packages arriving from large warehouses far away, trucks may only be delivering goods from smaller warehouses closer to urban areas.
Modern supply chains already rely on multimodal transportation, that is the use of air, rail, and land. Instead of relying mainly on ground transportation, people may have to rely on multimodal transportation to get products and goods quickly.
Our time critical logistics at AFP rely on multiple modes of transportation to get your shipments where they need to be as quickly as possible.
The future of shipping by ground transportation will be more fuel efficient, more connected to technology, and may be more consumer driven. All of these changes will also make ground transportation more cost effective.
AFP Global Logistics provides seamless solutions for global shipping in Maryland as well as global logistics service for international and domestics shipments.
Our vast network of shipping options and expert team make sure you are receiving the best and fastest transportation possible.
Contact us today for more information on our ground logistics services. Call 410.590.1234 (toll-free 800.274.1237), email us at email@example.com, or fill out our quick and easy contact form.