|The global transportation industry is reshaping itself in response to powerful technological, economic, and consumer forces. Traditional profit centers such as manufacturing and retailing are being squeezed. Consumer and commercial demand is increasingly focused on communications, safety and comfort. New patterns of freight and product distribution are emerging to take advantage of the e-commerce revolution. And there is a cross-industry response to the environmental and life cycle impacts of vehicles and transportation systems. Combined, these forces are creating a business environment of unprecedented technology adoption as a means to stay competitive and develop and expand new profit centers. Due to increased industry fragmentation, rising fuel costs, over-capacity, and the growth of the Internet, trucking and other freight companies have moved further downstream to handle outsourced logistics and fulfillment services. Internet commerce and outsourced supply chain management are driving the combination of logistics, warehousing, and fulfillment services - typified by new investment by FedEx, UPS, US Freightways, Schneider and Yellow. In addition, many traditional trucking companies have integrated warehousing, logistics, and less than truckload (LTL) services into their suite of services, remaking themselves into integrated supply chain management firms.
Best Practices in solutions for Transportaion helps to maximize performance of the entire transportation system through improved navigation and fleet management, reduced traffic congestion, increased safety, and superior monitoring of the physical status of vehicles and infrastructure. Key areas of growth will include:
Fleet management systems
Electronic tools incorporating GPS (global positioning system), GIS (geographic information systems), onboard diagnostics, and specialized software are emerging that allow for more efficient management, routing, monitoring, dispatch, and maintenance of fleet vehicles.
Internet based exchanges
Transportation exchanges over the Internet can perform a number of functions to improve the efficiency of supply chains and logistics value chains. An important example includes matching shippers with excess capacity with less-than-load (LTL) customers.
Increased outsourcing of fulfillment and logistics, brought about by the explosion in e-commerce will require expanded logistics IT solutions.
Real-time traffic and infrastructure monitoring systems
Systems that combine sensors, cameras, and Internet platforms are being developed to alert drivers and fleet managers to site-specific traffic conditions.
Transport modes are the vehicles supporting the mobility of passengers, freight and information and the infrastructures supporting their movements.
Road infrastructures are large consumers of space with the lowest level of physical constraints among transportation modes. However, environmental constrains are significant in road construction. Road transportation has an average operational flexibility as vehicles can serve several purposes but are rarely able to move outside roads. Road transport systems have high maintenance costs, both for the vehicles and infrastructures. They are mainly linked to light industries where rapid movements of freight in small batches are the norm.
Railways are composed of a traced path on which are bound vehicles. They have an average level of physical constrains linked to the types of locomotives and affected by the gradient. Heavy industries are traditionally linked with rail transport systems, although containerization has improved the flexibility of rail transportation by linking it with road and maritime modes.
Main maritime routes are composed of oceans, coasts, seas, lakes, rivers and channels. However, maritime circulation takes place on specific parts of the maritime space. The Atlantic Ocean is very important since it accounts for 78% of the global trade, 68% of its value and for 75% of the maritime trade. The construction of channels, locks and dredging are attempts to facilitate maritime circulation by reducing discontinuity. Comprehensive inland waterway systems include Western Europe, the Volga / Don system, St. Lawrence / Great Lakes system, the Mississippi and its tributaries, the Amazon, the Panama / Paraguay and the interior China. Maritime transportation has high terminal costs, since port infrastructures are among the most expensive to build, maintain and improve. High inventory costs also characterize maritime transportation. More than any other mode, maritime transportation is linked to heavy industries, such as steel and petrochemical facilities adjacent to port sites.
Air routes are practically unlimited, but they are denser over the North Atlantic, inside North America and Europe and over the North Pacific. Air transport constraints are multidimensional and include the site (a commercial plane needs about 3,300 meters of track for landing and take off), the climate, fog and aerial currents. Air activities are linked to the tertiary and quaternary sectors, notably finance and tourism that require movements of people. More recently, air transportation has been accommodating growing quantities of high value freight.