Transportation companies need to migrate and evolve as a matter of survival, said Derek Leathers, President and COO of Werner Enterprises, during his keynote address at the 8th annual ALK Transportation Technology Summit this month.

"The days of competing for a customer with regional or national coverage are gone," Leathers said.

On the economic front, Leathers predicted freight volumes will continue growing at more than 2% annually but that capacity will shrink due to high equipment costs and a driver shortage. New regulations are also adding to a rising tide of transportation costs and rates.

"We have been dealing with regulation after regulation," he said. "I can't price for crazy. We will not stand behind a price if we are impacted by something coming out of D.C." Carriers will have to find creative ways to move freight. Converting truckloads to rail intermodal is the best strategy to add capacity, but 77% of all domestic surface freight will continue moving by truck, he said.

At the summit, senior transportation and IT executives met with technology providers in a forum to discuss solutions to critical industry challenges.

A Fleet Senior Executive panel featured representatives: Derek Leathers - president & COO and John Steele - CFO of Werner Enterprises, John White - president of U.S. Xpress, and Terry Gilbert - CEO of New Century Transportation. Panelists shared strategies to manage traffic congestion, toll roads, drivers and other challenges. "Technology is the one thing that can address each of these obstacles and mitigate the cost of how many new trucks you need to buy," said panelist Derek Leathers.

The ALK Summit featured four roundtable discussions. Participants in the Shipper, Private Fleet and 3PL roundtable discussed ways to improve the bidding process for carriers, increase shipment visibility and the impracticality of multi-shipper collaboration. Other roundtables addressed challenges in Truckload, LTL and Global Fleet Telematics.

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