Companies shut their doors and people moved to remote work policies as the pandemic claimed lives and impaired the U.F financial health, but through it all, the commercial trucks that move a significant part of America’s freight continued to roll down the country’s highways.

Fleet owners and their employees have been among the front-line responders to the pandemic, delivering equipment and medical supplies to facilities and ensuring that store shelves nationwide remained stocked with essentials.

Although the “new normalcy” has roiled supply chains and caused economic distress on many transportations and logistics businesses, it also will be remembered as a time when the trucking fleets’ essential role within our society has never been clearer. In recent months a light has been shining on how important trucking fleets are to the country’s economy, and we can only hope that carries forward.

In the meantime, our fleets have to face unparalleled challenges at the onset of the pandemic. After stay-at-home orders were issued by the state, freight volumes have weakened dramatically in many sectors of the transportation industry, slowing down enormous swaths of the economy.

Many manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, and other businesses temporarily shut their doors or slowed production while consumers adhere to social distancing policies to impede the spread of the virus, which had taken the lives of more than 100,000 Americans as of late May.

Since then, states have started taking progressive steps towards reopening the economy. But the uncertainty didn’t stop there. Consumers have grown suspicious of the vaccine, the timing of a financial recovery, and the lasting effects of the crisis.

The pandemic’s impact on businesses has varied considerably from one trucking business to another. Trucking fleets surveyed have described a wide range of experiences, with some mentioning upticks in demand and steady volumes, while many more saw freight volume drop hastily. One company cited sporadic volumes and compressed margins in what normally were steady lanes. Another said its revenue dropped by 40% to 50%.

The economic uncertainty forced some businesses to temporarily furlough personnel or even make significant labor reductions in line with returns losses. What’s more, driver retention has improved amid a global health crisis, according to one company.

According to them, shipper customers in industrial sectors such as manufacturing and automotive have cut production, thus cutting off freight demand. The energy sector had also experienced financial distress. Recent findings saw business levels drop by about 50% during the pandemic. While much of the industrial sectors had suffered significant financial losses, business levels increased for several consumer-packaged goods, and in many areas of food and beverages and health care sectors, things have started to get quite lucrative. The recent health crisis has also accelerated growth in eCommerce as millions of consumers have grown more comfortable with online shopping for a broader range of products instead of visiting land-based stores.

How Did the Trucking Fleet Respond to Covid-19?

Nationwide, trucking businesses have been a crucial component of the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Many logistic companies have been shipping crucial medical supplies, food, water, and equipment into areas with a great propensity to COVID cases, such as Louisiana and New York. That work included sending hundreds of shipments of medical face masks, visors, and other supplies to police stations, hospitals, and fire departments.

  • Freight Market Disruption 

With panic buying and demand for medical supplies causing volumes to surge in some parts of the freight market, other industry shares saw demand drop considerably.

We’ve seen a downturn in the aerospace and automotive sectors as those customers decelerated production or shifted to making products to help tackle the pandemic. What’s more, many companies managed tremendous demands in the health business sector. In some cases, volumes for hospital cleaning supplies were running ten times higher than normal.

The food and beverage sectors also experienced a great demand in the early going as stay-at-home guidelines propelled the need for stockpiled food.

  • New Digital Requirements 

That pandemic has completely transformed the logistic sector. However, it remains a pain point for many transportation companies as they still stick to traditional records, logs, and paperwork. That’s an issue, and digital requirements on an administration level are also putting pressure on trucking fleets that are stuck in their own traditional ways.

  • Transforming Core Systems 

Trucking fleets must know their core systems inside-out. They also need to know these before trying to opt for bobtail insurance or any type of coverage. However, this can be a challenge as many trucking companies grow desperately, and many investors may have trouble understanding the business as a whole. Management software can revive a business and revolutionize how its supply chain management operates.

  • Automation is King 

Artificial Intelligence and Automation are going to be key components of the transportation business of the future. From order completion to driver tracking to package monitoring, automation can benefit any type of transportation business.

Clients and consumers are opting for these advanced transport techniques as well. However, because it’s still unheard of, it can be difficult to identify exactly what area of the business needs automation the most. An automated system is set to tackle and optimize all of the relevant processes within a trucking business.

  • Shifting Customer Expectations 

The pandemic isn’t the only challenge the trucking fleet had to battle. Now more than ever, consumer demand changes with evolving technology as they grow more aware of the relevant technology and transportation. For trucking fleets, that means they need to tackle bigger expectations, especially when it comes to communication and transparency.

In order to provide their customers with the most value, trucking fleets will now have to get a better insight into how new technologies impact the transportation sector. In recent months, the level of communication and coordination between carriers and customers has grown as projections are changing daily. So far, trucking businesses should stress that a greater level of communication is what they need to move forward.

In times of uncertainty, businesses and consumers alike will need to settle into a new normal, but society and trucking fleets will feel the after-effects of the pandemic for years to come.

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