So many factors affect the freight market: the economy, public policy and new tech.
Over the coming decade, tech is the one to watch. Not just the much-maligned autonomous vehicles, but three technology-driven market changes.
These technological disruptions could shrink demand for for-hire trucking services by 20%. They are: Amazon, automotive and agriculture.
The rise of Amazon is not good for for-hire carriers. As it grows its retail market share, the network becomes denser, allowing the company to create dedicated freight networks not visible to for-hire carriers. Amazon clearly wants as much control of freight as possible, becoming less dependant on for-hire carriers as it does so.
The automotive sector makes up around 9% of all trucking freight. If autonomous, on-demand electric vehicles become the norm, less cars will be bought. Also, if transportation-as-a-service takes off, the demand for individually-owned vehicles will decrease – potentially by 80%. This would mean a loss of around 7.2% of all trucking freight.
Alongside retail, agriculture is incredibly important to the trucking industry. But technology is set to disrupt it, meaning food will be grown much closer to where it is consumed and lab-grown meat will reduce the amount of freight ton-miles. Produce and livestock trucking currently makes up around 18% of industry revenue, but this could halve by 2030.
Over the next few years, the current tight conditions and high demand will remain, but ten years down the line that could all change.
Is there anything we can do to minimise the impact technology has on our industry?