The Impact of Automated Trucking on the Workforce

Interior of a self-driving truck on the highway

As automated self-driving vehicle technologies continue to evolve, many wonder what the future of trucking looks like for the 1.9 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers employed in the United States—the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has an answer.

According to a recent report issued by the GAO, two factors will determine the role of truck drivers and operators in a post-automation world: the level at which technology progresses and government regulatory decisions. These elements are expected to develop slowly over the next 5 to 10 years, leaving time for both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to continue working together alongside key stakeholders to prepare for changes within the trucking industry.

The Role of Truck Drivers and Operators in an Automated World

Cindy Brown Barnes, a director in the GAO’s Education Workforce and Income Security team, predicts that technological and federal advancements within the trucking industry will lead to one of two possible scenarios for truck driver jobs in the U.S.

Fewer Long-Haul Drivers

In this scenario, local drivers transport goods from factories to designated drop-off areas, where an automated truck picks up the loaded trailer and drives the rest of the route. The trucking industry is experimenting with technology that makes long-haul automated driving possible: GPS, cameras, accelerometers and gyroscopes, radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors, and platooning.

As tech companies push for more advanced automated trucking technologies (in spite of a growing distrust for self-driving cars among the American public), long-haul truckers may become a rarity.

More Skilled Truck Drivers

In the second scenario, truckers are still needed to perform tasks technology can’t: navigating urban environments, fueling the truck, changing tires, or loading and unloading the truck. Partial automation technology will be used as a tool for truck drivers rather than a replacement—trucking will be less stressful and physically demanding, decreasing turnover rates and encouraging more young workers and women to enter the workforce. Partial automated technologies could also produce more specialized driving roles that require technical know-how and engineering skills, creating more opportunity for drivers to continue their educations.

As outlined in the GAO report, workers both inside and outside the trucking industry aren’t currently feeling the impact of automation. It’s the responsibility of the DOT and DOL, the report argues, to use the next decade to prepare for potential mass layoffs and develop educational programs for training a new workforce of specialized truck drivers.

According to the government watchdog, full automation isn’t an immediate concern, but preparing for a future in which driverless trucks are the norm requires anticipating big economic changes now.

The Growth of the Rail Freight Industry

rail freight train with blurred motion

Like many industries, the rail freight market has fluctuated throughout history. During the great recession in 2008, rail freight transportation had negative year-over-year growth for the first time. The growing need for crude oil, coal, and natural gas and the booming energy industry have improved rail freight’s profitability since then: In 2017, Class I freight volume in carloads increased by 4.5% year over year, and regional railroad volume grew by 4.9% according to the Railway Tie Association. Learn more about the biggest contributors to today’s rail freight market health and trends that may impact the industry in the future.

Contributors to Rail Freight Market Growth

Coal is the largest contributor to the growth of Class I freight volume, with a 20% growth year over year. Other positive rail segments include nonmetallic minerals (8% increase), metallic ores and minerals (4% increase), and intermodal shipments (2.3% increase). Regional roads also helped fuel growth, with coal, stone, sand, petroleum, and intermodal transportation all increasing. Some segments, like chemicals, forest products, and lumber, are still under-performing and will need to concentrate on growth initiatives to remain competitive and profitable.

Rail freight traffic is strongly linked to overall economic health. According to the Association of American Railroads, Class I railroads carried 37.9% of the total freight moved during 2016 and generated $12.9 billion in revenue. The rail freight industry is also a huge economic driver of high-paying job creation—in 2014, America’s major freight railroads supported 1.5 million jobs and $88 billion in wages (freight employees are among America’s highest compensated workers). The healthy U.S. economy is expected to generate more profits and jobs for the rail freight industry in the years ahead.

The Future of Rail Freight

The future success of the rail freight industry depends on its ability to adopt environmentally sustainable solutions and consolidate the supply chain through technology. Rail freight has been slow to incorporate digital advancements, but the industry is likely to place a greater emphasis on real-time predictive data, automation, cybersecurity, and other technology that will increase profit margins by streamlining operations and offering a better customer experience. The rail freight industry must also generate innovative solutions for minimizing emissions to keep up with regulatory pressures and the trend toward clean operations.

Global Shipping Services’ Solutions

Global Shipping Services is an experienced global freight forwarder knowledgeable in forming comprehensive transportation solutions. We can help you streamline your logistics process, minimize costs while complying with all regulations, meet tight deadlines, and ensure that your freight arrives at its destination without incident. Our expertise spans a variety of industries, including large freight contributors like the oil and gas and energy sectors—we’re confident we can provide reliable transportation services for your needs. Contact Global Shipping Services today to get an accurate, comprehensive freight shipping quote.

Shipping Hazardous Materials Internationally

Storage of chemicals in barrels on pallets - logistics and shipping

Shipping Hazardous materials internationally by air or sea is risky without an understanding of the rules and regulations that guide everyday operations. Not abiding by international shipping regulations can lead to financial and legal problems and put crew members at risk of injury. Therefore, The Hazardous Material Transportation Act (HMTA) was enacted in 1975 by Congress to force companies transporting hazardous materials to abide by Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), ensuring the swift and safe delivery of goods around the world.

With a thorough understanding of international shipping regulations, Global Shipping Services makes shipping hazardous goods easy. By working with an experienced and reputable freight forwarder, you have peace of mind knowing goods will arrive at their final destinations without difficulty or danger.

Shipping Hazardous Materials by Air
Many items are classified as hazardous materials, even unassuming goods that may seem harmless. Cooking oils, nail polish, and perfume are flammable items that need to be packed carefully before transport. Alongside more obviously dangerous goods like dry ice, explosives, chemicals, and flammable materials, everyday goods may qualify as hazardous. Global Shipping Services is an expert in the industry when it comes to shipping dangerous goods by air. We help identify hazardous items and are prepared to ship goods produced by chemical companies and retailers alike. To ensure the safe delivery of all hazardous goods by air, we abide by the following regulations outlined by the International Air Transport Association.

Labeling – Hazardous items are classified into nine categories and labeled accordingly to ensure goods are safely loaded.

Packing – We identify the appropriate packing groups, as outlined by the UN, for hazardous goods to be shipped by air.

Documentation – Personal and regulatory information is collected to ensure goods are shipped safely and legally.

Shipping Dangerous Goods by Sea
Similar rules apply to the transportation of goods by sea. Hazardous goods shipping regulations outlined by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code ensure supply chain organizations keep the environment, various vessels, and their workers safe while delivering goods out at sea. Global Shipping Services has vast experience when it comes to shipping dangerous goods by sea, and we simplify the process by ensuring the following.

Classification & Labeling – Goods are appropriately labeled according to their classification group to help handlers identify and move cargo quickly. Classifications under the International Maritime Organization are listed here.

Packing – Inner and outer packaging is used to support the safe handling of hazardous goods, making sure packing materials don’t weaken or react dangerously with other substances.

Package Segregation – Certain hazardous cargo is separated from other substances on the vessel if it could dangerously react with other items.

Why Use Global Shipping for Your Hazardous Shipments?
We have over 10 years of experience in the freight forwarding industry and are expertly prepared to meet your shipping needs. By facilitating the transportation of goods from their point of origin to their final destinations, you don’t have to worry about missing any important information or packing goods incorrectly. Your shipments won’t be delayed or denied entry, and more importantly, you won’t accidentally make any dangerous shipping mistakes. We make sure shipments comply with the International Air Transport Association and follow the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code. Every package is carefully classified, labeled, packed, and documented for your safety and peace of mind.

Contact Global Shipping Services Today
To gather more information and receive a quote on your next shipment, contact a freight forwarding expert today. We offer complete logistics solutions to a variety of businesses in many industries and are happy to safely and swiftly get your goods where they need to be.