The haulage industry is an essential part of the network that is keeping the economy going, but for the last decade, there have been whispers of big changes that will ultimately change and revolutionise the way that day-to-day haulage works.
Huge corporations like UPS and Daimler have been investing in automation technology, working closely with robotics companies to create a standard for the haulage industry that will speed up the process of transporting freight across the world.
There have even been estimations made that 1.2 million lorry driver jobs will be eliminated. But will automation really make the lorry driver obsolete?
The next few years
In the short term, the answer is no – you are not going to be able to replace the lorry driver because they do so much more than drive.
They are securing cargo, checking vehicles, providing customer service and maintaining essential logs.
Alongside the use of logistics software packages like Titan Winds TMS software, research has found that lorry drivers are an important part of providing a logistics company with an accurate picture of their business.
They are the first port of call when there is an issue, and they are responsible for working to provide the most efficient service possible.
The road to full automation
In the past few years the news has been littered with headlines of automated lorries, but these have merely been trials done in safe conditions.
These initial tests using lorries with full automation (level 5), require the system technology to provide all monitoring and driving activities, from checking the tyres to navigation.
In the near future it is simply not possible to attain this level safely with zero risk to the customer and other road users – the highest we can hope to achieve is level 4, where there is a high automation environment, with the system controlling some driving and monitoring, but not all of it.
There will still need to be a lorry driver with each vehicle.
Goals for the future
The majority of current development is focused on the automation of long haul journeys that are more than 200 miles.
This will enable lorry drivers to work longer shifts without needing to take a break from the road.
It is estimated that 19 percent of freight journeys are long haul, so automation could affect jobs, but certainly not in the short term.
The automation of the haulage industry could be extremely profitable for the main freight companies.
There will still be the need for human lorry drivers though, certainly for the foreseeable future.