How energy sector growth will impact the transportation industry

Transportation software programs can help fleet managers prepare for an increase in activity from specific industries. The U.S. economy has struggled to fully recuperate from the Great Recession, which caused many businesses to limit operations and experience a reduction in profits. However, certain markets have performed better than others in recent years. For example,Kansas City Business Journal reported the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to outperform other nations despite significant competition from China and other developing economies.

"China makes more items for companies like Wal-Mart, but we make the machines that China uses to make their products," economist Chris Kuehl stated at the RubinBrown Manufacturing Summit in Kansas City this month.

Growth in the oil and gas industries
Energy production represents another sector of the U.S. economy that has experienced rapid growth. According to data gathered in the most recent "Global Oil and Gas Reserves Study," which is conducted annually by the professional services firm Ernst and Young, capital expenditures in the energy exploration and production industry increased 13 percent in 2012. Even though overall profits have been unstable for many companies, U.S. businesses recorded the highest level of reinvestment in oil and gas operations. The report said this growth in spending is mostly the result of an increase in development and exploration activity. For example, worldwide reserves at the end of 2012 rose 3 percent, with the U.S. and Canada both seeing some of the largest gains. Similar trends have also occurred for the production and exploration of natural gas reserves.

As oil and gas companies discover more opportunities to extract natural resources, they will increasingly depend on the ability to transport machinery, tools and other heavy-duty equipment across the country. By investing in advanced technology such as routing software, fleet managers can fully prepare themselves to handle rapid growth in business shipping activity. Not only can automated services make it easier to save money on overhead fuel costs, but these tools also enable managers to complete deliveries in the least amount of time possible. As a result, energy production companies can continue to expand operations at a steady pace and ultimately generate more profits.

Renewable energy production on the rise, too
Oil and gas isn't the only sector of the energy economy that may demand an increase in trucking activity over the next several years. In fact, The Daily News, a publication based in Iron Mountain, Mich., said a large number of companies and private homes are installing solar panels across the country - even in snowy places such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The newspaper reported researchers from Michigan Technological University (MTU) have developed a model that predicts the impact of snowfall on solar energy production. 

Congress is also considering passing legislation that would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

"Removing market barriers and providing a competitive structure that allows the nation to recognize solar energy's full potential is a top priority for America's solar industry," Christopher Mansour, vice president of federal affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, stated in a press release. "We've already seen what well-structured renewable energy standards have meant in states. They've opened electricity markets to allow for more competition from renewable sources of energy and ultimately driven down the cost of electricity for consumers."

Fleet managers have unique opportunities to leverage an increase in activity in the energy sector by investing in advanced transportation software. The ability to maintain full organization of multiple aspects of the shipping process can have profound impacts on long-term profitability in the industry.