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7 Transportation Industry Trends to Watch for in 2021

Close up of the rear wheels of a semi truck

There have been pretty major changes in the trucking industry over the past few years. From the adoption of modern technology to the types of trucks that are being used in the industry, we can expect the transportation world to change even more in 2021. These seven key trends for the transportation industry are ones to watch out for.

1. Software will become more widely used.

Far too many trucking and transportation companies have been stuck in the stone age in terms of technology. Many companies still use traditional handwritten logs or manually run their operations through a spreadsheet or a collection of stitched together technologies. Not only is this extremely inefficient, it can lead to a reduction in productivity, frustrated drivers and office staff.

Luckily, more companies are adopting or replacing their outdated transportation management systems (TMS). As you are probably well aware, a TMS can be used to streamline the fleet operations, manage freight, automate manual tasks and even help in improving delivery times.

2. Fuel costs may start to rise.

Fuel is a big issue in this industry. It’s a major factor that companies must consider when it comes to expenses and budget. As fuel costs continue to rise, it’s important to anticipate that this limited resource may become a costly asset. One alternative is to opt for alternative fuel trucks or even begin to invest in electric trucks to save on fuel costs. It’s a heavy investment, but it may be worth it for some companies.

3. Prices are going to change.

Truckers operate at very low prices. In fact, truckers tend to earn a lot less than the average worker. It took an even deeper nosedive in 2019 due to job shortages. Now, in the wake of the pandemic and a year-long shortage of drivers available, the employment costs for truckers will likely begin to rise. However, this can be looked at from both positive and negative angles. Either the need for truckers will increase due to low driver supply, or they will decrease significantly as the market continues to decline. Regardless, prices are going to change in 2021.

4. Production locations are shifting.

Production locations for big trucking companies have remained stable and constant. Now, companies are beginning to look at new locations in order to meet the demand for trucks that could possibly increase. A few popular new locations include Texas, Illinois, and Ohio. For western transportation, California could become a preferred location.

5. The market could possibly flip.

The trucking industry is not in a great place when it comes to the market currently, but some experts believe that will change later on in 2021. As new technological developments start to change in this industry (electric trucks, self-driving trucks, better transportation management, etc.) there is a chance that a market flip could occur and help the entire industry.

This shift in technology could be hugely beneficial for trucking companies, as the adoption of electric and self-driving trucks could revitalize the driver shortage problem however, we are still a few years away from this becoming mainstream.

6. Expect some serious mergers.

As a result of the pandemic and bad market conditions, many companies are facing bankruptcy. Some of these businesses may decide to take a different route and merge with other transportation companies. In fact, experts believe that there will be a huge movement of mergers in 2021. Either existing trucking companies will merge with other existing truck companies to merge their resources, or they will merge with a business in an alternative sector and expand their services.

7. Carriers may start going bankrupt.

In the first quarter of 2021, some big and small trucking businesses have gone bankrupt due to the failing market conditions. As it stands, there are several thousand truckers that are unemployed due to the closing of these businesses.

There are a few reasons for this. To start, there is now a shortage in the movement of consumer goods. Many retail companies are opting to move less product from place to place, which is costing many transportation companies their business. In addition to lack of work, many businesses failed to survive the lack of transportation due to the pandemic. As we mentioned previously, the option available to many of these failing companies in 2021 is to merge with other companies to stay afloat.

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