In It for the Long Haul, Logistics and Truck Freight

Posted : 12/10/12 10:56 AM

The trucking industry is divided into several categories, depending on the type of freight and the distance moved. For the long haul, the type of truck used is referred to as a semi truck. These vehicles are a key element in business for moving raw materials and works in progress as well as finished goods. In the United States, trucks haul the majority of merchandise moved over land and are essential to virtually all elements of the economy. Keeping track of what is going where is formally known as logistics. While the trucks themselves continue to show improvements in such vital areas as safety and fuel economy, it is the logistical end of the business that has seen the greatest advances in the last several decades. Computers, GPS units, and mobile communication devices have revolutionized how goods are tracked, and have streamlined the billing end of the business. The Motor Carrier Act passed in 1980 did much to reform and energize the industry, which had fallen on hard times in the late 1970’s primarily due to the high costs of fuel in the era. The industry continues to be pressured into complying with ever stricter restrictions on emissions and higher mileage standards, and both of these goals are helping to be met by increasing reliance on bio-fuels mixed into diesel fuel. Many ports now employ “shore power” systems which allow trucks to shut off their engines while waiting to unload, yet they retain electrical power needed to operate air conditioning and cargo cooling systems. Idling time is a significant source of air pollution and fuel waste. Logistics have also played a key role in this regard. A driver can now send a text message via a mobile communications device to the dispatcher, who is responsible for directing the freight, to let the person know the truck’s exact location which is pinpointed using a GPS device. The dispatcher can then relay back what route to take based on the knowledge of both the destination location, and traffic conditions at the time. All phases of the operation can now be monitored and archived in computers, including such data as engine speed, fuel consumption, idling time, driving time, and even gear usage. The days when a truck driver had to stop and use a pay phone to call in for information now seem a distant memory. Many truckers now on the road can recall that is how logistics worked when they first started out in the industry. Without a doubt, the industry will continue to see improvements in efficiency courtesy of new technology.