What are the top trends in the truck and trailer industry?

Pratistha Suhasini July 20, 2017

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“My name is Optimus Prime. We are Autonomous Robotic Organisms from the planet Cybertron.” 

That’s the leader of autobots, from the planet Cybertron, speaking in the movie ‘Transformers’.

A 2007 science fiction movie. Well, I would not be surprised if within a decade from now, commercial vehicles will transform into intelligent beings. (Not to the extent of 'Transformers' though!) 

The global truck and trailer industry has completed a major transformation over the last several years. With the current trends of everything (from cell phones to aircrafts) becoming 'smart and connected', the truck and trailer segment has embraced the Industry 4.0 revolution.

Based on reports from consulting majors like Deloitte, PWC and various online articles from SAE and truck.com, we have consolidated some of the key trends in truck and trailer industry, that are re-shaping this previously conservative ecosystem.

Digitization: 

manufacturing_globalization-1.jpgDigitization is here to stay.

Deployment of advanced technologies like cloud services and telematics offer integrated connectivity of trucks across the entire supply chain ecosystem. The real time data captured through these systems allows for truck manufacturers to optimize fleet management for efficient operations with advanced vehicle monitoring for predictive maintenance resulting in increased productivity and improved driver safety.

Big data applications can be used to analyze this data pool and uncover trends, patterns and preferences on consumer demand which are pivotal insights for manufacturers. 

According to Deloitte global truck survey, global market volume for telematics solutions in commercial vehicles will reach EUR 10 billion by 2026. Out of which, software will account for 80% of the share and the rest for hardware.

This is almost the reverse of the current ratio where hardware accounts for 95%. The report also mentions that ninety percent of surveyed experts think that the telematics services will be one of the key factors in a purchase decision in 2026.

Robotics & Automation: 

manufacturing_automation.jpgThe global truck industry is aggressively adopting automated vehicle technologies that are aimed at saving fuel costs, improving safety and optimizing operations.

Driverless trucks may be perceived as dangerous by the public. But, this general public consensus hasn’t deterred companies from developing robots that could replace humans in truck driving.

Technology disruptions with artificial intelligence coupled with advanced vehicle automation systems are driving innovation. Self-driven trucks aren’t just mere concepts anymore. Trucks are becoming automated to various levels of vehicle autonomy. 

Long haul trucking would be the biggest benefactor of these technologies considering the radical shift from traditional operations. Availability of drivers, long hours with pit stops, delivery time targets will no longer be critical concerns. 

After all, robots do not eat, drink or sleep. 

Environment & safety:

Asset 302.pngWith the majority of the global population moving to cities, the transportation of goods in the urban areas has been constantly surging and will continue to grow in future.

No wonder, there is an increased demand for commercial vehicles with lower or no emission and noise, based on the permissible limits in the cities.

One more factor is the emerging market entry.

As manufacturers look for fast growth economies for expansion, they also face a variety of regulations; different for each country/region across the globe. These stringent emission regulations and environment safety norms require truck manufacturers to continuously invest in R&D for improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

Alternative drive systems, hybrid technologies, electric vehicles are the key to build cleaner trucks with reduced emissions, lower fuel consumption and increased net savings.

Product Innovation: 

bigstock-Businessman-Touching-Idea-Conc-89682140.jpgEconomic downturns, fluctuating fuel prices and unpredictable consumer demands have brought the truck industry under tremendous pressure with smaller margins and declining profits.

So, in order to keep the total cost of ownership low, manufacturers are opting for innovative products that are built for efficiency at optimized costs.

The use of alternative material for components and parts as well as internal structures like shelves and racks is a lucrative option for the commercial trucking industry. Lighter material results in substantial cost savings and improves fuel economy, thus reducing the overall costs. 

Cost optimization initiatives on the product and manufacturing process allow the manufacturers to invest the savings on R&D in advanced technologies as well as improve pricing for competitive markets. 

Hope you enjoyed reading key trends in the trucking industry. It's going to be interesting to track the trends of commercial trucking industry in the coming years, where the majority of small and medium players try to adapt to the continuous innovation from industry leaders, all while keeping the operating costs in control and staying profitable. 

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Topics Product Cost Optimization Product Development Solutions Internet of Things Engineering Collaboration