We are more than halfway through the year, and many are eagerly looking forward to what 2020 will have in store for the refrigerated trucking industry. So, what can we expect? Factors that will have a large impact on the industry are economics, capacity, tariffs, regulations, and technology. So, let’s examine each of these factors more closely.


Many economic experts predict a slowdown going into 2020. In the past few months, conversations of caution and uncertainty are becoming more prevalent. In general, economic growth is measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and this has increased 3.5% in the third quarter of 2019. Compare this to an increase of 4.2% in the second quarter of 2019, and you can see that a slowdown is happening. Many experts note that while this is a slowdown, we should still see GDP increases into 2020, just not at the same rate as before.

Economic indicators that show marked slowdowns are housing, the stock market, and the Trump tax cut that is going to stock buybacks as apposed to capital investment. However other numbers for 2020 look promising. Experts note that industrial production and inventories are still at in good pace and position in the business cycle. One of the biggest possible changes that could lead to an economic boost is if Congress can manage to overcome it partisanship and pass a much-needed infrastructure reform.


We all know that capacity crunch was the topic of 2018, and that it loosened up into 2019 with more drivers/trucks becoming available. This has led to a fall in rates for 2019. But many experts note that the capacity market has found a bottom as this point in the year; capacity will once again tighten and there will be an increase in both spot market and contract rates for the end of 2019/start of 2020.


Trade directly affects freight markets. For 2020, the trucking industry will be keeping a close eye on the unfolding trade situations with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The impact of these tariff changes and subsequent retaliatory tariffs is increasingly discussed as an element that is shaping supply chains and influencing the movement of freight for 2020.


Hot regulatory topics for 2020 are ELDS, HOS, and sleeper berth flexibility options. Any drivers still using grandfathered in AOBRD’s are going to have to upgrade to a self-certified ELD by December 16, 2019. The data made available by ELDs is pushing for changes in the HOS regulations. The industry is pushing for changes to the restart and break rules and early 2020 should bring updates on both those factors. In addition, the industry is pushing for restoring the split sleeper berth flexibility, where a driver will be able to split up their sleep period. Check back soon for updates on all these regulatory factors and more which are set to be hot topics into 2020.


It feels as if 2019 has been a turning point for technology in the trucking industry; a year of catching up with the pace of the rest of the world. Document imagining, data storytelling, full load visibility tracking, and reliance on apps are all hot topics right now as companies look to make trucking smarter, easier, and cheaper.

One key technology piece is blockchain. Blockchain has the possibility to eliminate the need for paper in the supply chain via digital documentation. It also ensures the safety of all information that is stored in the system by way of sophisticated security systems. One of the biggest benefits of blockchain and its technology is that it gives visibility of data to all relevant parties in the supply chain. For 2020, look for more companies to adopt blockchain technologies to stay competitive.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another part of technology that is becoming more prevalent into 2020. Many transportation operators are planning on using AI to help with inventory management (for example, to ensure inbound pallets are loaded into the optimal trailer with the right timing so that there is the greatest efficiency during delivery). In addition, other companies are using AI to look at predictive trailer maintenance and driver behaviors. AI can have many applications and is sure to be implemented by the industry in many ways in 2020 and beyond.

2019 Trucking Industry Trends & Their Implications for 2020 was last modified: by