Trucking industry looking up, but driver shortages could pose challenges

With the United States economy slowly growing and many executives feeling more confident about business conditions, markets within the country could see a more significant improvement in the months ahead. Domestic manufacturing continued to grow in March, according to the Institute of Supply Management's monthly reading, showing producers are anxious to get more goods to market.

Economic improvement could spell trouble for companies with a driver shortage 
These improving conditions could mean positive things for the transportation industry. Increased production and consumption may call for more carriers to haul raw materials to facilities and transport finished merchandise to its final destination. A jump in housing starts could call for more building materials to be shipped across the country, further enhancing orders. While the additional business may be welcome news to some companies, they may have trouble meeting their obligations because of staffing issues. 

A desperate need for truckers has hit the country, with few young people pursuing the career and more experienced drivers retiring. The driver shortage is causing serious problems for transportation companies, and the issue may only get worse if the economy starts to pick up at a faster rate. The inability to quickly add more drivers to pilot available trucks will lead to tightening freight capacity for shippers, who will it find it more difficult and more costly to move their goods by truck. 

Reducing the impact fewer new drivers 
One way to mitigate a driver shortage is to increase utilization for existing trucks and their drivers. If it's not possible to add another driver and another truck, how can fleets get their existing trucks to function more productively?

One important key to fleet efficiency and asset utilization is the use of route optimization software to enhance processes and ensure current resources are used most effectively. With this technology, fleet managers can best determine which trucks should handle which orders and in what sequence to cover all requirements for the lowest total transportation cost, including the minimal number of trucks required and total number of miles to drive. Vehicle routing software also helps supervisors plan the most efficient routes for drivers, a critical concern when a company needs to make pickups and deliveries according to schedule while reducing excess fuel costs.

It may have previously taken managers hours to consolidate hundreds of separate orders into full truckloads and to plan routes that make the best use of driver time, but routing software can help them automate that process to take place in minutes, with much more cost-effective plans than manual methods would produce.