If you’re passionate about how technology is transforming the trucking industry, we may have crossed paths at Expedite Expo earlier this month. With over 1,000 attendees from the U.S. and Canada, it’s safe to say this year’s event exceeded all expectations. Our team had a chance to meet with industry leaders and learn about the newest technology innovations, career opportunities, and challenges facing the industry.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend, here are some key takeaways from this year’s event:
- Importance of technology to drive future operations
Are you selecting the technology that will support your operational needs now and in the future? That’s a question many attendees were asking themselves.
John Elliott of Load One Transportation, an Omnitracs customer, discussed this topic during his panel on the future of expedited trucking. Electronic logging device (ELDs) came up during this conversation, which has been an ongoing conversation for expeditors since the mandate was introduced.
- Recruiting driver talent
Across the board, it’s evident that carriers are realizing the need to attract new drivers, technicians, and mechanics. The rise in shipment orders is causing a strain on the driver labor market, and many event attendees agreed that more needs to be done to attract new talent. There are several areas that contribute to the driver shortage:
- Poaching experienced drivers: Recruiters are tasked with trying to hire from a pool of existing drivers to keep customers happy and ensure on-time deliveries. They often attempt to recruit experienced drivers who have been in the business for a while, which creates a problem as more drivers near retirement age.
- Roadblocks to attracting younger generations: You may be driving at 16, but you can’t receive your interstate CDL license until you’re 21. Without a career path for high school graduates entering the industry at 18, many potential drivers are lost to other industries.
- Lifestyle concerns: Prioritizing healthy eating can be hard on the road as there aren’t always healthy options available at rest stops. The trucking industry must address this need.
- Remove Barriers for Women
Breaking down the barriers for women in this industry continues to be a challenge, as Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women in Trucking, reminded us during her panel. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up only 6.2 percent of truck drivers. Ellen made a call to action, demanding that the industry must make changes to set up female drivers for success. Some ideas that came up at the event include:
- Training: Offering the necessary accommodations needed during time at training schools (i.e. separate hotel rooms from male counterparts).
- Access to services: Being able to visit a hair salon (rather than just a barber) or go to the gym would help alleviate the other burdens of the occupation such as being away from home for long periods of time.
- Cleaner facilities: Facilities at rest stops, terminals, and loading docks need to be cleaner and maintained better to encourage women to join the industry.
The biggest takeaway from Expedite Expo? Investing in people and technology will be the key to success. The industry must continue to have these open and honest conversations as we ready ourselves for new innovations and challenges in the years to come.