In the fall of 2016, Uber partnered with Budweiser to ship a truckload of beer through the United States. While the combination of a beer company partnering with a ride-sharing company was unique enough, it’s the fact that the truck in the shipment was utilizing self-driving technology that turned heads. Fast forward a couple of years and the entire Transportation Industry is getting a makeover with companies ranging from Uber to DHL are all finding new ways to create a tech-forward shipping environment, literally driven by technology.
Recent news about Amazon developing its own freight wing is just another example of how the transportation industry is not what it used to be, and may never be the same again. While technology has streamlined shipping processes for companies and clients alike, industry experts are doing their best to weigh the positives and negatives of this so-called Uberization of trucking.
One thing that an Uber-like system would provide is a streamlined approach to not only inventory, but the bottom line. Costs would lower by ensuring most trucks are loaded fully and properly, thus cutting down on shipments of half-loaded trucks. When a big rig travels cross country with a partially loaded truck the company it’s driving for eats the cost, especially for companies with a limited lineup of trucks.
Uberizing the transportation industry would also create on-demand services from shippers featuring on time and on budget shipping services. And to help a company’s finances even more, shippers can also cut out the middleman by completing a full delivery at lower costs.
While saving money, time, and processing are all attractive features for companies in the transportation industry, there are challenges brought on by the Uberization of trucking. Cargo can vary from food to vehicles, electronics to hazardous material, so that means that carriers can vary as well. Specific types of carriers need to ship specific types of cargo. And when a shipment needs a specialty vehicle and a specialty driver, resources become more scarce.
Another challenge with bringing the transportation industry into the world of tech-forward shipping is the human relationship element. A trusting relationship between shipper and driver is a long-term goal in every company. Companies want to stick with what they are comfortable with when it comes to delivery expectations. Throwing a new system into the mix means disrupting the value already in place.
While the Uberization of trucking may be better for a company’s bottom dollar and process, it’s the human element that needs to come aboard. From a smartphone or handheld device, drivers and clients can maintain a connection, but will it force too much, too fast?
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