Tech Aiding Driverless Truck Safety; Employment Numbers Reveal Uptick

January 12, 2024

Tech Aiding Driverless Truck Safety; Employment Numbers Reveal Uptick


Continental Logistics

There never seem to be enough resources when it comes to warehouse staffing, finding truck drivers, and seeking solutions to constant supply chain issues. Those problems will likely persist in 2024, but that doesn’t mean the trucking industry isn’t finding solutions.

Tab 2024 ‘The Year the Trucking Transportation Industry Embraces Change.’ Or, more correctly, the year more companies are coping with staffing larger warehouses, solving employment issues, and mitigating logistics disruptions in real time by utilizing automation and artificial intelligence.

This will also be remembered as a historic year for the trucking industry, as Continental AG’s new partnership with Aurora has already yielded a breakthrough in driverless technology. By the end of 2024, Aurora will deploy a fleet of autonomous vehicles for a million-mile run.

From attacks on ocean freighters to the trucking industry banding together to ask governors to prioritize funding for safer parking for truck drivers, there’s much in store in 2024. Here is our recap of the latest trends and news in trucking and logistics.

Continental AG/Aurora Turn Driverless Trucking Into Reality

The knock on driverless vehicles trekking across the country has always started and ended with safety issues.

Less than a year after announcing a partnership to find a driverless solution, Continental and Aurora Innovation have succeeded where companies like Tesla have failed: They worked quickly to develop a revolutionary fallback safety system. The new technology means Continental can start mass production of the Aurora Driver Level 4 system in 2027.

February BLS Will Shed More Light on 4Q Job Rise

Trucking industry experts are taking the latest news of an uptick in jobs over the last quarter of 2023 with a grain of salt.

Is it a sign of legitimate growth?

The answer will come next month when the Bureau of Labor releases its final industry numbers for 2023.  For now, the short answer is jobs were up 5,700 from October in the December report released on Jan. 5. The best news is the industry saw increased employment in three of the last four months of 2023, and December’s year-over-year job growth was 28,400.

Tempering the excitement over the fourth-quarter growth, the report also shows warehouse employment has decreased in 16 of the past 17 months.

The February BLS report is the release of the final numbers for 2023.

Concerns Rise over Freight Attacks on Red Sea

Ocean freight carriers in the Red Sea have had to divert more than $200 billion in trade over the past several weeks to avoid the threat of strikes by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen. The rerouted cargo, sometimes 2 to 4 weeks longer at sea, has led to increased ocean freight costs and delivery delays. Industry analysts are now concerned that the transitory part of inflation from 2022 will return if the attacks continue.

In a joint statement, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and several other nations warned the Houthis on Jan. 3 to stop immediately. Read the letter here.

Lower Prices have Heavy-Duty Vehicle Sales on the Rise  

For the first time in nearly three years, the average retail price of heavy-duty trucks and tractors has dropped below $60,000. The price drop has led to a 2 percent year-over-year increase in sales. The number of trucks sold rose from 20,500 in 2022 to 21,000 in 2023, with an average retail price of $59,292. It is a 6.2 percent drop from October and a whopping 27.4 percent drop from October 2022.

ATA to Governors: Prioritize Funds for Safe Parking

The American Trucking Association and local trucking associations across all 50 states have said enough’s enough when it comes to truckers not finding safe places to park and rest.

On Nov. 1, the ATA and state associations sent letters to the governors in all 50 states, urging them to make funding for safe parking for truckers a top priority in their 2024 budget planning. The call for a greater safety commitment comes on the heels of a U.S. Department of Transportation report that found 98 percent of truck drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking, and 70 percent of truck drivers have been forced to violate federal hours-of-service rules because of the lack of safe parking space.

Sale of Yellow’s Assets Continues

The second round of auctions for the terminals of defunct LTL carrier Yellow brought in $83 million for 23 leased properties. The auction sales numbers were released in a Delaware bankruptcy court filing on Dec. 20. Winning bidders must also pay costs to cure the current leases because Yellow was delinquent in rent payments and failed to make repairs in several locations.

In the first Yellow bankruptcy auction,128 terminals owned by Yellow and two others that were leased brought in $1.9 billion. The liquidation of Yellow assets, including 118 more leased properties and 46 terminals owned by Yellow, is ongoing. The Delaware court also approved the sale of Yellow’s 12,000 tractors and 35,000 trailers through auction houses.

Food Chain Suppliers Tackle Troubles with Technology

Among the lessons learned from the pandemic-era disruptions is the importance of securing a reliable, cost-effective food chain. The priority has been echoed by the White House, which recently established a Council on Supply Chain Resilience to help ensure a smooth food supply chain flow.

Food Logistics recently shared five key factors to enhance delivery in 2024 and beyond. Some key points:

  • Expect Stricter Resilience Requirements: Labor challenges and increasingly higher customer demands have made affordable on-time delivery increasingly difficult. Logistics companies will rely on quick access to information and the ability to share it with customers quickly. Transparency is key.
  • More Warehouse Automation: While manual labor positions have gotten increasingly more challenging to fill, the lack of a labor force has not slowed the growth of warehouses. CBRE data shows that most warehouses in North America are between 200,000 and 499,999 square feet. Automation and robotics are being implemented to make the facilities more efficient. According to a report by Venca Robotics, 85 percent of warehouse operators plan to deploy automation within the next year.
  • More Transparency in Scope 3 Reporting: Nearly 80 percent of consumers want to buy from companies that prioritize sustainability. However, a recent trend report shows that 38 percent of consumers don’t believe companies are honest about environmental impact. One way to alleviate concerns is increased transparency in Scope 3 reporting.
  • AI’s Implementation Hinges on High-Quality Data: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a tool more food supply chain companies are implementing to combat industry issues and solve real-time issues more quickly. As digitizing information becomes more prevalent in the industry, AI will become an even bigger factor.
  • Remote work is here to stay: The pandemic accentuated the need for companies to be able to adapt and use remote workers. That trend is here to stay, and successful companies are finding ways to utilize more remote workers.  

Why 3PLs Like Continental Logistics Matter More Than Ever

In the bustling world of logistics and transportation, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest news and trends shaping the industry. Emerging technologies for driverless trucks, monitoring the latest updates on the trucking labor market, and understanding the ripple effects of what’s happening in the Middle East are just a few examples of the items we’re monitoring to help ensure we’re positioned to help our clients remain competitive logistically.

Continental Logistics is a leader in transportation and logistics management, offering a full suite of services that includes container drayage, full truckload, less than truckload, temperature control, and more. If you’re looking for a partner who can customize solutions for your specific needs, let’s start a deeper conversation.

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