By 2025 the total freight tonnage in North America is expected to grow by at least 21 percent, and revenue for the freight transportation industry is expected to rise 59 percent. Furthermore, by 2025, trucking’s share of the tonnage market will rise over two percentage points to 69.6 percent, while the industry’s share of freight revenues will increase by 0.8 percent to 81.7 percent.
So the future will involve trucks.
Today’s Trucking asked a handful of industry vets for their perspectives on how trucking will shake out, come 2025.
Here’s what the future holds:
Rough Roads Mean More Maintenance
By Jim Mickey
The North American trucking industry of 2025 will be defined by dramatically increased costs of three major expenses: Driver compensation, equipment, and fuel.
“The collision course of an aging workforce, compounded by a continuing decline in attractiveness of the profession will push up drivers’ wages. The increasing drag on drivers’ earning power from factors outside of their control (border times, onerous dock appointments, regulations, road restrictions, etc.) will coerce the industry to move toward salaried pay for drivers.
“Driver lifestyle demands (to match the rest of the working world) will result in expensive fixes on the operational planning side, such as pony-express cross-country solutions, part-time workers and/or higher pay for the less desirable shifts. More employers will introduce expensive immigration and training programs.
“New trucks in 2025 will be more complex and more expensive to maintain. A continued decline in the quality of the North American highway system will mean even more maintenance for trucks and trailers.
“The driver shortage will increase payloads, which will add pressure to the equipment costs and repair budgets, as well as create expensive local delivery protocols. Moves away from tradition fuel sources may well bring increased costs to the effective per-tonne cost of moving goods, as measured by the efficiency of the equipment used in the business.
“Asia will lose much of its luster as a manufacturing paradise once the cost of transportation rises, and local growers and factories will again be a competitive force on the store shelves.
“Trucks and truckers will still be the most effective way to distribute consumer goods in 2025. It’s just that it will be a lot more expensive to do so.”
— Jim Mickey is co-owner and president (Administration) of Coastal Pacific Xpress Inc., a Surrey, British Columbia-based long-haul trucking firm.
Owner-Operating or Onerous-Operating
— By Brian Taylor
The most significant change will be the finishing of the Panama Canal. Many trucking lanes will be shortened as large ships travel to east coast ports.
Drivers will make more money and be competitive with other professional tradespeople. Pay systems will probably be based on an hourly rate or at least a system that is more transparent and easier for drivers to compare. Driver pay will be geared less to piece work (as it is now) and more to covering costs.
North American border crossings will continue to improve but North American perimeter security will remain in tight focus.
The traditional owner-operator will be a less-popular business model. Increasingly, trucks will be matched with trailers and spec’d for individual jobs. And onerous government regulations will make it less desirable to run a small business.
Preventive maintenance cycles will be extended by 2025. We will see more clean-burning and low-maintenance natural-gas engines and increased use of better lubes, synthetics and other new materials, extending PM cycles even further.
Trucking will be far more female-friendly. Pony-express routing with more switches and more home time will be attractive. There’ll be more drop-and-hook lanes with less driver-load interaction. Also, trucks in 2025 will have improved designs, with widespread automatic transmissions, disc brakes, stability control, and better bunks. Better travel plazas, too.
Truck driving will be a recognized trade, with more consistent schedules and predicable pay schedules.
Trucking is still the most efficient way for shippers to move product to market. I think our future is bright and we can meet the challenges that face us in the future and provide better employment and service to customers at the same time.
— Liberty Linehaul Inc. President and CEO Brian Taylor became a fleet owner in 1988, the year after Today’s Trucking was launched.
$75K Per Year
— By Noel Perry
Drivers in 2025
Older — the standard retirement age will be 70.
More women, which will mean improvement in truck stops and truck design.
National registry will record on violations, health, drug use, criminal activity.
Implanted devices and automated testing will constantly track critical health data.
Long-haul irregular route drivers will make $75K in 2012 dollars.
Highways in 2025
No new capacity.
Onset of guidance technology, providing location reference for on-board guidance aids.
Sensors will meter new entrants to congested highways.
Urban areas will increasingly require specialized technology (a la California now).
Electronics in 2025
Universal EOBRs will monitor speed, following distances, sudden maneuvers and hours of service. Will be encased in crash-proof containers. Available to police and management.
Introduction of driver physiology monitoring will fight fatigue and aid concentration on highways ahead.
Vehicle controls will automatically slow vehicle when perilously close to other vehicles or if curves fall outside of tolerance; they will slowly bring vehicle to a stop if driver is incapacitated.
Tire sensors will measure inflation and traction and adjust maximum speeds and braking force automatically.
Diagnostics will monitor and predict performance of all major vehicle systems.
EORBs will generate user tax bills.
All important gauges will be displayed “heads up.”
Weather en route will be available.
60- ft. 100K lbs will be standard on some roads.
Communications in 2025
Hands -free voice-activated phone connections will be available at all times.
24-7 data collection will feed driver and truck metrics to HQ at all times with warning flags for any out of spec data (truck or driver).
RFID—like tags on all cargo will feed location and product condition data to customer 24-7.
RFID tags will speed up paper-free crossing of borders.
— Noel Perry is a partner with Pennsylvania-based Trucking-industry analysts known as FTR Associates.
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