Forecasts for 2024 predict growth, but at a slower pace than last year, for most industrial market segments. The stock market is also factoring in the likelihood of a “soft landing” for the economy. With consumer spending still strong the need for freight transportation and transportation equipment remains high, particularly the demand for specialized equipment such as food grade tankers and liquid bulk tank trailers.
As we move forward in 2024, fleet operations managers, trucking industry professionals, and the tank trailer leasing industry will need to consider the trends coming down the road and adapt quickly as they emerge. After a few tumultuous years, 2024 brings more availability of transportation equipment, but also rising costs, shipping delays resulting from global conflicts, and an election year.
According to a survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the top 10 concerns trending for trucking companies coming into 2024 are:
|1. The Economy
|6. Lawsuit Abuse Reform
|2. Truck Parking
|7. Driver Distraction
|3. Fuel Prices
|8. Driver Retention
|4. Driver Shortages
|9. Delays at Customer Facilities
|5. Driver Compensation
|10. Zero-Emission Vehicles
Driver Concerns and Employment
Drivers are still trending! Four (4) out of these top 10 issues pertain to drivers. According to the American Journal of Transportation, the trucking industry could potentially reach a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030. In order to minimize delivery disruptions, a step up in recruiting and retention efforts may be warranted. However, this results in higher costs for wages and benefits. “With over 3.54 million professional truck drivers as of 2022 and 8.4 million people employed in trucking-related jobs, the new year promises an increase in drivers’ wages and benefits as well as greater enhancements in safety.” (“Trucking Industry Trends, Statistics & Outlook for 2024”)
In addition to higher costs for wages and benefits, an influx of new drivers raises training, insurance, repairs, and other costs. To minimize these costs, organizations will need to invest in cost effective solutions for training and recruiting. In addition, modifications to employment practices, when possible, that allow drivers to spend more time at home and / or to enable time for exercise and rest on the road, will present more attractive employment opportunities. It may also lower distracted driving incidents. Also, while autonomous vehicles or drones may be used to mitigate a shortage of drivers, we are unlikely to see bulk loads of valuable cargo or hazardous materials transported without a responsible driver, at least in the near term.
Since 2015, truck parking safety and availability has been a trending topic for drivers and trucking companies alike. This year it reached the number 2 spot in the ATRI survey. Pressed by the American Trucking Association and the Department of Transportation, there is proposed legislation in the House and the Senate to allocate $755 million for funding grants for truck parking and related improvements(Gallagher). There is still a lot of work to do on the Federal bill so some states are taking their own initiative to improve parking safety and availability.
Detention and Delays at Customer Facilities
While reaching a peak during the pandemic, wait times, detention, and delays remain a priority for drivers and companies requiring on-time delivery schedules. Most often these delays result from a shortage of facility labor available for loading / unloading. Occasionally mechanical breakdowns in equipment or logistics technology will result in delays. Given the difficulties with hiring qualified personnel this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. In a previous blog, Matlack Leasing offered one solution, the pre-loading of tank trailers and chassis to reduce turnaround time at warehouses and facilities.
Cost increases: fuel prices, insurance, maintenance, and more, are on the mind of everyone, especially everyone in the transportation industry. As transportation costs rise, so does the cost of the goods being transported which contributes to inflation. While rising labor costs are an immediate concern, planning for a transition to a low- or zero-emissions fleet and the expected costs associated with this transition, are also trending. Expected emissions limits are requiring fleet managers to think creatively about their fleet composition in the years ahead.
Advanced diesel fuels are currently in use with lower nitrous oxide and particulate emissions, but research is on-going for further improvements. The primary advantage of these cleaner burning diesel fuels is that they provide lower emissions for trucks already on the road. Class 7 and Class 8 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are being piloted and hydrogen fuel cells are emerging as a potential power source.
In the meantime, fleet managers are benefiting from the integration of Information Technology (IT) solutions for optimizing route planning and fuel efficiency. You can read about Green Logistics trends and technologies such as telematics, APIs, and AI in our November 2023 blog.
Trends in Tank Trailer Equipment Availability
While equipment availability did not make the list of the Top 10, Matlack Leasing is here to keep you on top of trends in liquid bulk transportation equipment and the future of tank trailer leasing.
Available inventory for general purpose chassis, tank chassis, and tank trailers for lease has improved. However, specialized equipment remains in demand. Industries such as chemical manufacturing, agrichemicals, bio-fuels, and food products require specialized equipment for hauling liquid products. Advanced planning and cooperation with a reliable leasing specialist is key to securing tank trailer leases in these industries.
For 2024, the trucking and tank trailer leasing industries have some obstacles to navigate, but the overall outlook for 2024 is positive. The team at Matlack Leasing, LLC can help you steer your fleet in the right direction by providing expertise on the latest industry trends and by leasing the durable, heavy duty equipment for the transport of bulk liquids and chemicals. Contact Matlack today!
- Gallagher, John. “Labor, climate costs loom large for trucking in 2024.” FreightWaves, 28 December 2023.
- Keith, Scott. “Outlook for trailer builds in 2024 more bullish, ACT says.” Fleet Owner, 23 August 2023.
- “Transportation Market Outlook 2024 | AJOT.COM.” American Journal of Transportation, 27 November 2023,.
- “Trucking Industry Trends, Statistics & Outlook for 2024.” CloudTrucks, 26 December 2023.