The Future of Road Transport


Published: Monday, January 15, 2018

 

The Future of Road Transport

The regional road transport industry still has a lot of ground to cover to meet globally accepted standards. Brent Melvin, COO, Almajdouie Logistics shares his thoughts

Despite being in the developmental stages, innovations like driverless trucks and platooning are on the horizon and have the potential to be game changers alongside eco-friendly electric trucks. “The onset of digitization is leading to a more efficient use of the roads, but this is a journey that takes time. In the interim, logistics companies need to decentralise from city centres to the outskirts.”

The road transport industry in the Middle East is at the cross roads. It needs to overcome a number of challenges in order to catch up with international standards and best practices. The general state of trucks is poor, driver qualifications are questionable, and many operators fail to invest in their assets, employee training, or fleet maintenance. Until legislation is largely adhered to and enforced, the industry cannot be expected to mature.

Implementing standardised driver qualifications would vastly improve the road transport industry in the region. The March 1948-established, Geneva headquartered, International Road Transport Union (IRU) is a good benchmark to follow. Of course, the Middle East market is a long way behind Europe in terms of driver qualifications. So while the principles are valid, the level of the programme needs to be adjusted to local market conditions initially with the view to extend the qualification over time. As a leading road transport service provider in the GCC, Almajdouie Logistics invests heavily in on-the-job training programmes to help drivers understand the importance of cargo care, customer interaction, and safety in the workplace and on the road. We not only do this because it differentiates us from others, we do it because is the right thing to do.

Long way to go

Although technological advances are being made on a daily basis, some operators in the Middle East have not adopted basic existing technology like track-and-trace with real time cargo visibility. This highlights critical data like cold chain integrity and is used as much for location management and cargo care as it is for driver performance and asset utilisation. Almajdouie Logistics follows all the major trends in transport and truck development to determine where we see ourselves in the future. We have adopted several technologies but do not consider ourselves ahead of the game when it comes to the possibility of digitisation, so this remains an area of interest and investment for us.

As we move into 2018, technology looks set to continue playing a significant role in road transportation. Despite being in the developmental stages, innovations like driverless trucks and platooning are on the horizon and have the potential to be game changers alongside eco-friendly electric trucks. These are areas Almajdouie Logistics is examining with great interest. Another area shaping the future of road transportation globally is partial road bans, which play a part in trying to reduce the impact of heavy vehicles within city limits during peak periods. While this serves a purpose, it limits the free movement of goods; so improved road infrastructure, public transport development, and rail are alternative options worth exploring.

The onset of digitisation is leading to a more efficient use of the roads, but this is a journey that takes time. In the interim, logistics companies need to decentralise from city centres to the outskirts where they can provide inner city distribution via smaller vehicles that are more pliant and manageable. These are just some of the developments and trends that will change the face of logistics in the future. Everyone is looking for that next big disruptor. We need to adapt to these changes and understand where we fit in to determine the vital role road transportation will play in the future of the growing logistics industry.

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