The Role of Semi Trucks in Global Supply Chain Management
The Role of Semi Trucks in Global Supply Chain Management

The Role of Semi Trucks in Global Supply Chain Management

Sometimes people forget just how important semi trucks, and their drivers, are to the economy and in keeping the global supply chain running. Supply chain insights can tell us just how important trucking is to the supply chain industry. Supply chain management works to connect semi trucks with all the products and goods that need moving, and gets them where they need to be. 

What is the Global Supply Chain? 

On a basic level, the global supply chain is the worldwide system connecting goods and products from production to consumers. On a more in-depth level, the global supply chain involves layers and the supply chain industries of manufacturing, logistics, production, and transport all intertwined with global dynamics, taxes, tariffs, and regulations. Companies have entire departments dedicated to global supply chain management. The entire thing is very much a web. A web that trucking plays a critical role in. 

The global supply chain is more global in recent history. People produce, ship, and deliver products all around the world. A vendor can receive an order placed by a customer in Chicago an ocean away and still deliver it in less than a week. Consumers have become accustomed to two-day or even same-day delivery, and semi truck companies are an important supply chain business.  

Components of the Global Supply Chain 

Supply chain management includes coordinating producers, vendors, warehouses, transportation companies, distribution centers, and retailers. There are four major modes of transportation as part of the global supply chain – air, sea, rail, and road. While air and sea are the only options for transporting goods across an ocean, the products onshore typically use roads and rails. 

Truckers and transportation help connect all these components – moving goods from production to warehouses to distribution centers to retailers and customers. Semi trucks touch on many of the functions of the supply chain including operations and distribution. Not only do semi trucks work to get final products into the hands of paying customers, but they also serve a vital role in getting the pieces and parts of those products to the right factories and plants. 

Trucking in the Global Supply Chain

Trucking is a vital part of supply chain management. Supply chain insights tell us that in the United States alone, the industry moves over 10 billion tons of freight annually. This accounts for roughly 72% of the nation’s total freight transported. The United States’ highway system allows for the transport of goods to every corner of the country. Trucks can reach more places than trains and planes. Different types of trucks are necessary for different types of products – open logging trucks, car haulers, refrigerated and freezer trucks, and shipping containers full of a variety of goods. 

Think of any product – something you bought in a store, or online. In order to manufacture that product, raw materials are necessary. Those raw materials can deliver by a semi truck. How do supply chain businesses move the final product from the production site to a distribution site or warehouse? A semi truck. Once retailers or individuals order the product, it can move from the warehouse to their business on a truck. While the global supply chain, or even local and regional supply chains rely on trucking, it isn’t the only supply chain industry or even the only supply chain transportation industry. 

Oftentimes, there are multiple modes of transportation to deliver a product – a boat to a plane to a train to a semi to make the final leg of the journey. Whether a semi truck is the only transport means or part of a chain of vehicles, they are all vital in keeping America moving. 

Semi Truck Benefits

From a business perspective, using semi trucks as a main mode of transportation in your supply chain has its benefits. 

The highway system that spans across America is for vehicle transport – reaching places trains, planes, and especially boats, cannot. Unlike other methods of supply chain transport, trucks can run with a one-man crew. A skilled driver can navigate weather that might ground a flight or cause trouble for a train. While the average semi truck cannot carry nearly as much freight as a cargo ship or plane (trucks can haul around 80,000 pounds) multiply that by the two million semi trucks on the road in the United States and that is a lot of cargo. Trucks can also carry certain cargo that other modes might not be able to – certain hazardous or fragile materials. Although it may not move as fast as a plane traveling across the country, utilizing the connected supply chain network of semi trucks, planes, boats, and trains working with new technologies to optimize routes, shipping, and production means goods can reach customers faster than ever.  

If Semi Trucks Stopped 

It’s hard to accurately explain just how important the trucking industry is to the supply chain and the American economy overall. It’s easier to get the point across by sharing what would happen if semi trucks across the nation simply stopped. Within hours or a day, hospitals would run low on supplies, and certain medications with limited shelf lives would be out of reach. Within a few days, grocery store shelves could be empty. ATMs would have no cash. Within a week there would be minimal, if any, gas available. Ports along the shores would be overflowing with shipments coming in from across the oceans with nowhere to go. Garbage would pile up. Water purification could come to a halt and drinking water could run dry within a month. This illustrates just how vital semi trucks are to the supply chain business – both globally and nationally.  

Joining the ranks of the three-and-a-half million truck drivers working across the country could  be a viable career choice for anyone who enjoys being behind the wheel. It’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Once you’re ready, Handshake Fleet can help you find the perfect truck or trailer for your job, and your life. 

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