How Changes in the Economy Affect the Shipping and Transportation Industry

Logistics and transportation make up a crucial sector of the U.S. economy. Millions of trucks, rail cars, and vessels move goods across the country. The shipping industry is changing rapidly however, in response to the changing needs of shippers and consumers. Less than truckload or LTL shipments now make up a significant portion of the industry. Changing trends are also seen in the pharmaceuticals transportation industry, with innovations such as cold shipping and real time tracking to maintain the quality and integrity of shipments.

Changes in the U.S. shipping industry
The U.S. shipping and logistics industry is crucial to the economy. It represents 8% of the GDP, with annual spending around $ 1.48 trillion. The total number of trucks, rail cars, and vessels that make up the shipping and transportation network is estimated to be around 12 million. While a vast variety of freight, including speciality freight, is moved each year, the most valuable commodities shipped are machinery, electronics and motor vehicles.
However, the shipping industry is seeing many changes, as the needs of shoppers and consumers reflect shifts in the economy. One of these changes is the increase in LTL shipping. The value of shipments is rising even as the distance of each trip is decreasing. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that the value of freight moved in 2007 was $882 per ton. It is expected to increase to $1,377 per ton by 2040.

Specialty and LTL freight services
LTL shipping services are used for shipments that are too large to shop as parcels but are too small to fill a semitrailer. Usually, LTL freight companies will fill a semitrailer with several LTL loads to make up a full truckload to transport. The LTL market is currently estimated to be around $35 billion.
Many LTL companies carry specialty freight like food products, pharmaceuticals and hazardous chemicals. They have developed the experience and special equipment and documentation needed for handling such materials. E-commerce has also affected the industry, with $423.3 billion revenues each year and growing.

How pharmaceuticals transportation is changing
Another area of the shipping industry that has changed significantly in recent years is pharmaceutical transportation. This requires special equipment and temperature controls. These are necessary to maintain the quality of the shipment, as is real time tracking. Some shipments also need satellite tracking and extra security.

New tracking software lets shippers and contest follow each load in real time. This contributes to the overall efficiency and security of the process, and is especially important for pharmaceutical transportation, where it can be important to track the logistics chain.

The U.S. shipping and logistics industry is an important sector of the economy. It continues to grow and change, with changing economic trends. The increase in LTL shipments is one result of the growth of e-commerce. The world of pharmaceuticals transportation has also been transformed by new technological and security needs.

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