Truckers and the trucking sector itself, has been through several changes these past few years. We are just a part of all the changing industries in the United States. All trades and companies have been through many changes these past years, but it seems that lately, they have been coming about more quickly. The ELD Mandate that came about this year created much confusion in the industry coupled with all the advancements in technology these past years has led to many older drivers leaving the business.
For the next few years, the trucking carriers will enjoy tight conditions and high demand, but about the turn of the decade, conditions will start to change. By 2030, consumers will likely be buying their daily produce on Amazon that was farmed locally indoors, delivered in an autonomous vehicle direct to their home. The trucking industry, faced with less and less freight, will also let look dramatically different as a result.
Maybe, within the next ten to fifteen years the cattle rancher as we know them now will be extinct. Gone will be the days of buying young feeder cattle, raising them to take to the feed yard to fatten them up and on the slaughterhouse. At the packing house, they are packaged into the different cuts of beef and shipped on trucks to the grocery distributors.
More and more we hear about lab-grown meat. Meat is mostly muscle tissue. Scientists are experimenting with ways to grow meat from a few cells of muscle into a thick chunk. They are trying to create the natural growing process in a lab, and they have made progress in the use of self-renewing cells.
Laboratory-grown meat is gaining with the public because is said to reduce environmental cost, increase health benefits for humans and protect the welfare of animals. Population growth and the changes in diet have led to the doubling of meat consumption. Meat and dairy products account for 70 percent of the worlds water consumption, 38 percent of land use and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
There is the problem of increased electricity use and heat in growing meat in a factory. Scientists and corporations need to make enough lab-grown meat to bring the cost down. Some in the meat industry is warming to the idea. Tyson Foods has launched a venture-capital fund to invest in startups that work on innovative approaches to protein production.
There is no question that this will happen. How long into the future is anybody’s guess? If this lab-grown meat takes off, it will drastically reduce the number of trucks needed to transport not only live cattle but the packaged product to the consumers, bringing about several changes to the trucking industry.
Greenhouse growers that are thinking about diversifying into edible crops will be going through much the same problems as the meat industry. How much is it going to cost to produce fruits and vegetables grown inside? Can you picture, in your mind, a large warehouse type greenhouse outside of every major city? Inside growing is what is being talked about quite a lot lately. People associated with the dominant vegetable and fruit producers, with the idea of reducing the cost of transportation, are warming to this concept.
For this to get off the ground, the scientist is going to have to replicate the climate, soil, amount of sun, and type of fertilizer that is required to grow these fruits and vegetables. You can be assured they have people working on this now. Some plants are susceptible to humidity. The amount of moisture in the day as opposed to moisture at night is also essential. Sunlight is also a significant factor, as we all know. In the winter, with shorter days, artificial lighting will be needed for plants needing more sunlight.
Some fruits grow well in some regions of the U.S. because of what is contained in the soil. For these greenhouses to be productive, the soil type will have to be replicated, and this would most likely take place by way of trial and error. Which fertilizers work and the ones that don’t?
It definitely will take some time and money for this to take place, but in the interest of saving money, it will be the norm a few years from now. All the big corporations that are financing the autonomous truck industry are also promoting the greenhouse warehouse concept. If you have fresh produce within a few miles of all major cities, electric trucks will become very feasible because of the lack of mileage involved for transportation. They will also promote this as a great way to save the planet, even if the fruits and vegetable are not as good as they are now.
The History of Online Shopping
We could go all the back to 1907 with the start of United States Parcel Post system (UPS) when there was a great need for a private delivery service. The company focused on package delivery for retail stores making most deliveries on foot and motorcycle. Throughout the years UPS evolved into what it is today, a package delivery company that advertises overnight deliveries for most packages and letters.
In 1965 Fred Smith a Yale undergraduate wrote a term paper outlining a system to furnish a delivery for time-sensitive material such as medicine and electronics. Federal Express came into operation in 1971. In 1977 After years of lobbying by Fed Ex, Congress passed the law that enabled cargo companies to use large aircraft with no geographic restrictions to deliver cargo worldwide. Being able to use aircraft for the delivery of packages may have been the start of the extremely competitive business of overnight deliveries.
All the advancements in computer technology, the improvements that UPS and Fed Ex made to their delivery systems, and the improvements to our highway systems is what brought about the popularity of online shopping. Retailers the world over jumped on board to see who could deliver the most products in the fastest way to their customers. All these things together combined to create the “gotta have it now” consumer. Everyone began to go online, order their merchandise, and get it delivered tomorrow. All these combined to create more companies getting on board to get in on the profits and this created an atmosphere of extreme competition between trucking companies throughout the world.
There is an excellent article in FreightWaves that covers some of this in more detail, as to what effect it will have on the trucking industry. Today e-commerce accounts for 13 percent of all retail sales, and this is predicted to increase to about 32 percent by the year 2030, which means online shopping will account for 7 percent of all trucking freight.
Autonomous Driving Vehicles
There has already been a lot of testing of drones, self-driving cars and trucks, for the delivery of goods in the world. Tesla has already tested its autonomous vehicles by hauling battery packs from its Gigafactory in Nevada to the car factory in California. The truck is said to have a range of 500 miles. Waymo and Uber have also jumped into the mix with their autonomous tractors in Colorado and Georgia. Waymo and Uber, at present, are leading the self-driving truck market, but more players are getting into the mix. Many are predicting that the autonomous trucks will be the standard component for all big fleets across the nation.
Of course, the most significant player in all this is Amazon. Wal-Mart and Amazon both are in a heated battle to create the first flying warehouses, and Amazon has already acquired the patent for this warehouse that will deploy drones to deliver parcels in minutes. The e-commerce giant has plans for an “airborne fulfillment center” which would float at an altitude of about 45,000 feet. When a customer makes an order, it will be loaded onto a drone and delivered to the consumer.
Several large distributors are following Amazon’s lead and building warehouses all over the nation as close to their customers as possible. As Amazon experiments and perfects its drone delivery system, others will join with them, and drone delivery will become the new norm.
Large warehouses have been coming along for several years now, as all of us in the trucking industry have found out. One large retailer builds a distribution center near a large city, and the others follow suit. It won’t happen overnight, but more and more long-haul trucking is going by the wayside.
Everyone is saying that autonomous trucks will be the death of the trucking industry. It will bring about many changes, but it won’t be the end. With all the changes that are talked about here, it is going to mean proportional modifications to all industries. In all sectors, in the world over where there is the added benefit to automation, these companies will see a host of changes. Is this going to mean fewer employees will be needed? I don’t think so if anything people will have to be trained to operate self-driving trucks, different computer software and robots of all kinds.
We won’t have lab-grown meat for some time, but it will happen, and to us now it won’t taste the same, but to the babies that are born now, they will not know the difference. Just like many of us do not understand how milk straight out of the cow taste or how good it is for your health. The same can be said for greenhouse produce and how it will taste. It remains to be seen if it will be as nourishing or have the same flavors.
Over the next few years, this will all get developed and refined, what it means to the trucking industry remains to be seen. For someone that wants to stay in the industry, it may be a good idea to get ready for considerable changes. The industry as it is now will not look like this in 2040, just as things were different in 1985. Throughout the years any change that has come along people have said it was going to lead to less employment but this has not happened. Drivers today could learn more about computers and how they operate because someone has to manage all this new technology.
Read one of my earlier posts, if you have time, that I wrote in March, What Will The Trucking Industry Look Like in 2040
Changing the way tires are bought. Order online and get them shipped to your dealer at home so they will be waiting for you when you get there.
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