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  June 6th, 2017 | Written by

Transportation and Economic Issues Addressed During Shipper Symposium

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  • Transportation capacity should begin to tighten later this year.
  • Many trucking regulations are likely not to move forward under the current administration.
  • “We’re in this world awash with data – we have got to move ahead in our data acumen.”

Transplace, a provider of transportation management services and logistics technology, wrapped up its 15th annual Shipper Symposium in Austin, Texas last month. Former administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Annette Sandberg and other leading supply chain and business visionaries addressed current transportation and economic issues, including big data analytics, and the regulatory and safety landscapes within the industry.

“Shippers are continuously looking for ways to navigate the wide range of challenges impacting their supply chain,” said Frank McGuigan, president and chief operating officer of Transplace. “With this year’s event, we wanted to bring together a diverse group of logistics, technology and economic experts, including Annette Sandberg, Dr. Alan Beaulieu, Paul Zikopoulos and Ken Gronbach, to examine the most pressing global trends and issues impacting their businesses, and share supply chain strategies and best practices that can drive meaningful change within their organizations.”

Sandberg joined Transplace CEO Tom Sanderson and Sword & Sea Transport Advisors LLC President Thom Albrecht to discuss transportation trends and the industry regulatory and safety landscapes within the industry. According to Albrecht, transportation capacity should begin to tighten a bit later this year and will continue to be impacted by the growth of ecommerce – specifically Amazon. He projects that Amazon will solidify its presence in the food distribution market within the next three to four years, and drive additional density to the rest of its network; leading to standard delivery going from two days to next day and, ultimately, same day.

“We’ll likely see another round of brick and mortar stores shut down, which will impact the grocery industry,” said Sanderson. “And online spending, instead of nine percent of retail, will be 20 percent, and this will have a profound impact upon freight distributions and patterns.”

Sandberg believes that many regulations, including those concerning sleep apnea, heavy vehicle speed limiters, entry-level driver training and the Carrier Safety Fitness Determination, are not likely to move forward – at least under the current administration. However, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is final and will go into effect December 26, 2017.

Paul Zikopoulos, vice president of big data analytics for IBM, examined the collection and use of big data for better decision-making and to meet the growing needs of consumers. Zikopoulos highlighted that only a percentage of data is used to make any kind of decision.

“We’re in this world awash with data – we have got to move ahead in our data acumen,” he said. He went on to explain how data analytics creates massive disruption because of the “holy trinity” of social, mobile and cloud, adding, “It’s these three things that have come together that have burst open the opportunity for analytics, yet we’re not even taking advantage of the analytics that we could before these trends.”

Economist Alan Beaulieu examined the current global economy and shared what companies can expect going forward. According to Beaulieu, the economy has shown signs of improvement since 2016, and leading indicators show that total manufacturing is likely to pick up speed. He stated, “You’re going to see more manufacturing, which means you’re going to see more freight.”

Even as manufacturing and freight volumes improve, labor will likely remain a challenge. Trucking companies will continue to compete for labor against manufacturers, HVAC contractors, and other industries that offer higher wages and do not require individuals to be away from home for extended periods of time. Beaulieu added that the only way to do that effectively is to pay drivers more – and do so as an industry group in order to attract fresh people to the industry, “instead of just stealing from each other.”