Impact of COVID in the Trucking Industry

Resilience through Technology

August marked six months since the Coronavirus pandemic began its crippling effect on the U.S. economy. Almost every industry has been affected, and for those in trucking and logistics, it’s been feast or famine.

As demand for many products fell to staggering numbers in mid-March, shippers completely altered the supply chain environment by dictating prices for weeks on end. While some carriers, especially those in the automotive shipping and petroleum markets, are still feeling the impact, others have shifted their business model to meet the new demands of the changing market.

Some carriers were fortunate enough to service booming industries such as emergency medical supplies, paper products, and food. However, they have experienced their own set of challenges when dealing with the immense demand of the pandemic, such as the massive reduction in the workforce. According to a May 8 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 88,300 jobs were lost in the truck transportation, a 6.2% year-over-year decline, as the entire economy suffered due to COVID-19 pandemic lock downs and stay-at-home orders.*

There is one underlying theme across the spectrum of carriers feeling the pandemic’s positive or negative impact. The time to invest in technology is now.

At SkyBitz, we have been working closely with our customers to help connect the dots between data and revenue generation, especially when it comes to dispatch and optimization.

Impact of COVID in Miles  Impact of COVID in Hours

Coupled with the drastic loss of drivers during the early phases of the pandemic, some carriers decided to shift to either LTL or short-haul service. This meant drivers were driving more hours but with fewer miles, especially after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) updated hours-of-service (HOS)* rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers that gave the industry more flexibility.

James Anderson from the Knight Transportation team stated, “Uncertainty in logistics can raise challenges to meet both driver and customer needs, the addition of SkyBitz to our fleet of trailers facilitated the ability to conquer the increased obstacles from COVID-19.  The enhanced ability to reliably track our assets allows us to position them promptly and help alleviate a lot of driver and customer anxiety in this volatile market.”

James Anderson said it best, “While our drivers are undergoing extreme stress being away from their friends and family in this uncertain environment, having highly reliable and accurate tracking devices gives them confidence and peace of mind knowing their assigned trailers are confirmed. Alleviating the undue stress trailer availability has caused in the past is a huge win for us.”

Many of our carriers have focused on re-evaluating how they are using their technology solutions, creating better processes, and taking advantage of the information they have access to, to improve their business process across the entire operation. The shift to an almost entirely remote workforce has caught many carriers off guard. They realize the importance of fleet monitoring applications, and how it can be used to drive their business decisions regarding servicing shippers, driver safety, maintaining a healthy and profitable fleet, and streamlining compliance requirements.

Terri Lucas, Vice President of Sales at SkyBitz, states, “Customers that have been utilizing our data in their daily operation across their entire fleet are the most resilient. They have been able to maximize trailer capacity and driver productivity by reducing empty miles and improving trailer turn times. Since the pandemic began, our customers have had to take unprecedented steps to manage their business, and our technology is supporting those vital initiatives.”

With every business feeling the impact COVID-19 has on the global economy, there are lessons to be learned from partners and peers during this time. Those that rise and remain resilient in times of change will become the leaders of this new future.

SkyBitz will be continuing to monitor and report on customer trends from now through Fall and follow up with additional information, so check back or subscribe to our email.

Do you have a story to share about how technology has impacted your business through COVID-19 that you’d like to share with us? Click here!

Sources:

1* – https://www.truckinginfo.com/358249/trucking-loses-88-000-jobs-in-april

2* – https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

3* – https://www.truckinginfo.com/358615/hours-of-service-final-rule-adds-flexibility-to-truck-drivers-workdays