In the largest truck industry research of its kind to be conducted in Australia, a new report highlights the critical challenges being faced by road transport operators, including the effects of COVID, and offers insights into the key trends likely to impact the industry in the coming years.
Conducted by independent research firm ACA Research, Isuzu Australia Limited’s (IAL) Future of Trucking: The Road to Recovery report surveyed over 1000 road transport decision-makers from multiple vocations, including high profile general freight and last mile delivery fleets, through to construction, government, health and other niche industry sectors.
According to IAL Director and Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Harbison, the report was an opportunity for Isuzu Trucks to contribute to bettering the shared knowledge of the industry.
“The Future of Trucking report was undertaken with some broad objectives in mind. Importantly, it has been a chance for Isuzu Trucks to further enhance and develop our own understanding of the industry we are operating in, but to also benefit every stakeholder in Australian road transport,” he said.
“It’s been a challenging time for the nation and every industry sector has endured trials as a result of COVID-19. It remains the hope of IAL that some of the insights gathered as a part of this project can be utilised by industry participants in their daily operations.”
The report’s key insights are centred around established sector challenges facing operators and business owners, along with some revealing sentiment off the back of a rapidly evolving COVID-19 environment.
Encouragingly though, the findings also point to a resilient and resourceful sector ready to meet and overcome these challenges, and indicate positive growth in the immediate future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, yet opportunities for growth still exist across the trucking sector. According to the report, 59 per cent of all businesses surveyed predict an increase to their freight volumes over the coming 24 months and 46 per cent of larger operators have a clear and comprehensive strategy to address evolving industry changes.
With driver shortages across the industry, the report findings indicate that this is affecting buyer behaviour and preference, with a continued swing towards safe, accessible trucks which help attract and retain talent.
The broader transport sector has the second oldest industry workforce profile, behind agriculture, forestry and fishing; with 49 per cent of business owners surveyed (with 6-20 trucks or more), stating that the availability of skilled drivers will be a major challenge over the coming 12 months.
In the field of technology, 68 per cent of respondents believe electric trucks will play a major role the future of the industry.
Additionally, 64 per cent of fleets believe lifetime value is more important than upfront purchase costs, while 59 per cent of fleets saw the cost of fuel as a key challenge over the coming 12 months.
While the report was already anticipated to be a significant undertaking, IAL Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, John Walker, said the COVID-19 outbreak required a review of the initial insights gathered.
“We always wanted and designed this to be a research project that could draw assured and informed insights into the current state and future direction of the road transport industry in Australia, and that’s why we targeted a large sample size of respondents.
“After conducing our in-depth research phase with interviews of over 1000 industry participants in late 2019, and as we were preparing the report early this year, it quickly became apparent that while the core of our findings remained unaffected by the unfolding events, we needed to ensure that the sentiment was aligned with the current industry conditions.
“We saw that while optimism had tempered in some areas of industry, overall there was both confidence in the future and conviction that the industry had the skills and hunger to respond to the new opportunities and challenges that COVID had presented.”
Harbison added that the positive outlook of the fleets surveyed was promising. “With or without a global pandemic, the freight task continues to grow and now is the time to build on foundations, to reaffirm industry relationships and ensure an efficient supply chain as we work collaboratively through this next phase,” he said.
To view the full report, please click here.