Spring 2022 3PL Central Supply Chain Scholarship runner up Jacob Stark wrote a brief but compelling essay about advancements in autonomous freight trucking and how it will alleviate supply chain bottlenecks created by labor shortages. Presenting great research, this essay shines as one of our runners up!

In conversations with our warehouse management system (WMS) customers, they cited finding talented minds as a struggle in hiring, so we created the Supply Chain Scholarship to help find young talent. We hope that our scholarship will help the industry grow and thrive in the future by locating and cultivating the brightest young minds studying the supply chain.

Here is a future visionary in logistics and runner up for the Spring 2022 3PL Central Supply Chain Scholarship Jacob Stark and his essay on self-driving semi-trucks.


A substantial change in the supply chain field is on the horizon and it is coming in the form of transportation technology. The need for this innovation has been heightened by the bottlenecks and labor shortages created during the COVID-19 pandemic. This big change, which is already being developed and tested, is self-driving semi-trucks.

The shortage of truck drivers right now is creating a logistical crisis for multiple companies across the entire supply chain because 71% of all freight in the United States is moved by trucking. (Markets) The solution is not to do away with trucking but to make it more efficient and less vulnerable to labor shortages. This can be accomplished by switching to self-driving trucks, something many people, including myself, thought would be introduced in the distant future but that is quickly becoming reality.

There are several companies developing self-driving trucks right now and big trucking companies like FedEx are testing them. The self-driving trucking company partnered with FedEx is currently testing its technology on the road. The trucks are transporting and delivering cargo on a route from Dallas to Houston which is a 500 miles round trip. The trucks being used by FedEx have safety drivers in them for now, but the CEO of the company says that they are projected to not need these safety drivers by 2023. (Bloomberg) This change in trucking could make it so trucks could run 24/7, eliminating the stops for rest that a truck with a driver would need.

Another self-driving truck company did a test run of their truck to see if they could make a coast-to-coast drive in one go. During this 2800-mile drive, they had to switch out safety drivers six times to comply with the safety laws but completed the route in just under three days. (CCJ) This is an extremely quick trucking trip because for truckers to do a traditional 2800-mile drive it would take them five days to complete the journey. (Travel Trips) This example shows how much more quickly goods could be transported with self-driving technology.

Saving time needed to transport freight is a logistical feat that can translate into a more profitable and reliable supply chain. I believe that self-driving trucks will not only fix the trucking labor shortage but will also be the next big advancement in the supply chain field. 

Citations

Markets- Trucking industry facts

Bloomberg- Aurora rolls out a fully autonomous commercial truck pilot program

Travel Trips- Long road trip across America 

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