Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Honey, I Shrunk the Truck Driver

Don’t be surprised if someday soon a broker asks you to scrunch down in your seat so the shipper can’t see you.

Let me explain.

According to a recent transportation news blurb, “40 percent of manufacturers and retailers expect their logistics providers to have some understanding of driverless vehicles.”

The statistic was attributed to the Eye For Transport 2015 3PL Report, an annual survey of shippers and 3rd Party Logistics providers, more than 400 of them according to EFT. I downloaded a copy.

The relevant survey question was for shippers: “Do you expect your 3PL to have any expertise of, or (for 3PLs) are you looking to provide services which incorporate driverless vehicles/trucks?”

Sure enough, according to the survey bar chart, a bit more than 40 percent of respondents, roughly 160, selected the option “Some expertise/knowledge would be useful.”

How or why such knowledge would be useful and to whom isn’t explained. I suppose it might also be useful in some obscure way for a broker to have a working knowledge of calculus, a degree in cognitive dissonance, or a 2003 Buick.

But wait. At the top of the bar that reflects responses from shippers is a red sliver that represents at least 2 percent of the total. These folks answered the same driverless truck question by checking this amazing answer:

“I would expect my 3PL to be able to provide both expertise and services in this area now.”

OK, so if my arithmetic is right, there are at least eight shippers out there who expect that, should they ask for one, a driverless truck will back into their dock this afternoon.

Who will they call?

Look no further than the bar that reflects 3PL responses. The red sliver on top represents a little less than 2 percent of respondents. According to the survey these, let’s say seven, 3PLs are looking to dispatch driverless trucks today.

So who do they call?

It could be you, and with a special set of scrunch-down pickup instructions.

Should it happen, don’t take it personally. Just try to look small.