Newcomers to trucking are looking at established business models and probing for weaknesses with fresh eyes -- and ideas.  Photo: Daimler Trucks

Newcomers to trucking are looking at established business models and probing for weaknesses with fresh eyes -- and ideas. Photo: Daimler Trucks

It’s happened before and it’s going to happen again – soon.

Somewhere, sometime in the very near future, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Tesla’s Elon Musk, or some other tech guru you may never have heard of, is going to sit down and pore over every aspect of your business model they can find.

They’re going to look at the equipment you run and how you use it and when you get rid of it. Your fuel of choice and how much of it you burn. They’re going to look at your maintenance costs. When your shops are open. And when your shops are closed. The routes you run. How long your trucks stay out on the road. Who your customers are. What your customers' demands are – how green they want you to be, how efficient they want you to be. They’re going to look at what you pay your front office people and technicians working in your shops. They’re not only going to look at what you pay your drivers, they’re going to look at how you pay your divers. They’re going to look at the tools you give your drivers to help them work and live better out on the road. And they’re going to look at your profit margins and how much money you’re bringing in.

All of that is nothing new. It’s called “due diligence,” and pretty much anyone interested in starting a business does the same thing before investing time, money and energy in a new venture.

But what is different is these visionaries are looking at your business with fresh eyes. They’re looking at every aspect of your operations through the prism of new technology – in many cases technology you’ve scoffed at or dismissed as unworkable, far-fetched, impractical, or years (or decades) away from being viable.

The forces that are converging on trucking now are unstoppable and relentless. You can’t stop change. I can’t stop change. We can’t stop change. Change is coming whether you want it to or not. The visionaries zeroing in on trucking today see an industry that is outdated, inefficient, and utterly vital for the success of their business ventures and economies around the globe. Well, that and the fact they realize there’s a lot of money to be made in the trucking industry in very near future.

If you’re alarmed, you should be. But don’t despair. You have some cards up your sleeve, as well. Technology and theories are great. But street smarts and on-the-ground intel still count for a lot in trucking today. And while change is indeed coming, it’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye. And more freight means more business for everyone concerned.

Now is the time to start thinking seriously about the future and how new and emerging technologies can help you run your business better. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy the first electric truck you see. But I’d definitely keep an eye on the guy who does and watch what happens when he puts it to work. Change will be fatal only if you get left behind once it arrives. And the way to keep that from happening, is to start thinking about, and preparing for, change today.

About the author
Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts

Executive Editor

Jack Roberts is known for reporting on advanced technology, such as intelligent drivetrains and autonomous vehicles. A commercial driver’s license holder, he also does test drives of new equipment and covers topics such as maintenance, fuel economy, vocational and medium-duty trucks and tires.

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