The transportation industry faces a host of challenges, and the rising price of fuel is just one of them.
The transportation industry also has to cope with challenges like disruptions in Japan’s supply chain and an overall weak economy, said Paul Will, chief operating officer of Celadon Group Inc., an Indianapolis-based publicly held full-truckload freight service.
“These conditions make it difficult to forecast” financial results, even on a short-term basis, Will said during a transportation conference Wednesday in Princeton’s Westin Hotel.
Trucking companies are having a tough time passing on higher fuel costs to customers, and as they cut back on capital purchases, the firms are increasingly running aging vehicles, he added.
But the good news is that following a period of overcapacity that put downward pressure on pricing, the supply and demand of capacity is equalizing, according to Will.
“But the price of oil is the big question,” he said.
Some companies remained upbeat about the industry’s prospects.
“Business is good,” said Andrew McElroy, president of Priority Distribution Inc., a third-party logistics provider in East Brunswick. “It’s certainly better than it was two years ago.”
McElroy was one of about 175 transportation industry executives at the ALK Transportation Technology summit. He said technology helped transform his second-generation family business from a traditional freight broker to a logistics company that can help medium-sized companies manage shipments, inventory and other activities.
On the technology front, new GPS and other devices let transportation companies “get answers without having to interpret maps,” by integrating map data and other relevant company data, according to Barry Glick, CEO of ALK Technologies Inc., a Princeton-based navigation, routing, mileage and mapping provider.
Businesses can streamline their operations by tying “real-time business” operation information to personalized information delivered by “smart” devices that know what information to deliver and “when to deliver it,” he said.
E-mail Martin C. Daks at firstname.lastname@example.org