Big box retailer Walmart – and other retailers like Amazon – are exploring the use of automated, driverless trucking technologies, says Newsmax and other sources.
It is a development that the trucking industry is keenly aware of, so should manufactured home movers be concerned?
Let’s start this report with some background.
Among “the first driverless semi-trucks is already driving, legally, on the highway’s of Nevada. Businessweek’s Sam Grobart went to Las, Vegas for a test drive,” said Bloomberg. That video report is posted below.
There is a severe shortage of truck drivers that exceeds 60,000 unfilled long-haul positions, according the American Trucking Associations.
“Walmart Inc. came to dominate retailing through its mastery of logistics—the complicated choreography of getting goods from farm or factory to the consumer. But even the world’s biggest store doesn’t make money selling its wares online in the U.S., largely due to runaway shipping costs. So Walmart (WMT) is turning to robots,” according to Newsmax.
Walmart’s U.S. chief logistics professional, Greg Foran recently took reporters to a curbside package pickup kiosk outside its supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas. Three Ford delivery vans there were outfitted with self-driving technology developed by a Gatik, a Silicon Valley startup. Gatik aims at cutting Walmart’s middle-mile shipping costs in half. Going driverless in pursuit of profit is a “no-brainer,” Foran said.
It’s not driverless taxis, but driverless trucks that some experts say are looming just ahead.
Moving products, not to customers, but between “middle miles” could reach $1 a trillion market and could provide retailers with the fastest path to prosperity.
“This area has the least number of obstacles and the most certain return on invested capital in the near term,” said analyst Mike Ramsey, with consulting firm Gartner Inc. “If you’re looking to start a business where you can actually generate revenue, this has fewer barriers than the taxi market.”
“This middle mile is the most expensive part of the whole supply chain; it’s a huge pain point,” said Gautam Narang, CEO of Gatik, the firm attempting to automate Walmart’s “hub and spoke” warehouse system. “This fills a big gap in the market.”
“Anything on driverless delivery that is a milk run is a good application for autonomy,” said Sherif Marakby, chief executive officer of Ford’s autonomous vehicles unit. “B2C is a complex implementation for autonomy that will come with time, but B2B just makes it easier because you get volume and you can be more predictable.”
Put differently, those on the inside of these developing technologies say that business-to-business, or B2B, delivery is easiest way to navigate to profitability in driverless trucking. It has less complex than ride-hailing or driverless delivery business to consumers, known as B2C or the last-mile.
Is This Potentially Going to Impact Manufactured Home Trucking Soon?
The short answer, according to producers who are independent as well as those working in large industry companies, ‘no.’
“Not even close [to being implemented in manufactured home transport],” said one of the largest producers of manufactured homes in the U.S. “Packages and house [are] two different thing and ROI long way out.”
An independent producer told MHProNews that “They aren’t even using robotics in… [HUD Code manufactured home] factories. Oversized loads will be an extreme challenge for driverless vehicles. The home is never in one lane, programming to be outside of any legal driving envelope will be a huge challenge in my opinion.”
No one said they are aware of any such plans to move manufactured homes autonomous of a human driver at present. That should be comforting to manufactured home ‘toter’ drivers.
Be that as it may, trucking labor shortages, new tax incentives to invest in equipment or automation, and other factors could turn “not even close” into something that might be tested in the foreseeable future. MHProNews will monitor such emerging trends in business and report as relevant.
That’s a wrap on this edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” ©. ## (Headline news, weekly recap, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary.)
NOTICE: You can get our ‘read-hot’ industry-leading emailed headline news updates, at this link here. Connect on LinkedIn here.(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)