As we head into the New Year and the brave new world 2024 the trucking industry knows that it is facing major disruptions to business models and to the way the business task is handled. As the trucking business develops, it will have to continue living with the rate of change as it moves forward.
There are a series of challenges facing the trucking industry and all of them are going to force changes to the way we do business. The tools it uses and the methods it uses for recording, invoicing and getting paid for the services it provides will be changing.
The most obvious one facing us at the moment is the transition across to zero emission operation. This is a transition all industries are having to deal with but for the trucking industry in Australia, it is going to provide us with particular problems.
We are not going to be able to cut and paste solutions from countries like America and Europe, because our trucking environment is so completely different. Talking to people in the know suggests that there is not going to be one solution, it’s not going to be two solutions. There’s going to be many solutions. The way the trucking industry achieves zero carbon emissions is going to be a very much a mix and match process depending upon technology and local conditions.
At the same time, the way the global economy works is changing rapidly. Not just in terms of zero carbon but also in the way that business is done and where the influences on supply and demand come from. Countries like India are developing at an incredibly fast rate similar to the economic growth in China 20 years ago.
Reflecting on the life of Sam Sali, who we lost this week, when he started his business back in 67 years ago, he simply had to fulfil a simple task. He had to turn up at point A, pick up some freight and get it to point B at a particular time, or as soon as possible.
The road transport industry was changing fast at that time, as the railway monopoly on freight movement was being dismantled. Many operators got in on the ground floor at this point and grew as the demand for road freight grew.
In the intervening years, the process which road transport operators have to go through to get an item freight from A to B i changed but the basic principle is still the same. It’s still a truck turning up at a manufacturer or a warehouse, securing a load onto the truck and delivering it to the end customer. What has changed is everything else around that.
There is also a myriad of other things you need to do in order for your business to survive. Sam, in his time as a trucking operator will have seen countless competitors come and go. Some who had a business model suited to a particular time, but didn’t change that business model as the freight needs of the Shepparton area changed. They fell by the wayside.
Others had developed a culture which may have been effective in 1960, but by 1990 was unacceptable within the industry. The smart operators who survived through all of the changes over the many years, were those who learned to adapt, kept themselves educated about what was going on and who was doing what and where.
If there is a difference between the 1950s and the 2020s, it is that the pace of change is so much quicker. We are now living in a world where the software you will use and the software which runs just about every aspect of a business including its trucks is moving ahead fast and will move ahead even faster with the introduction of things like AI.
It’s not just having a good idea. in 2024, or in 1956, it’s about having the ability to adapt and change which enables businesses to remain successful and keep moving forward in an extremely competitive industry.