Is there an automated future for logistics?

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July 23, 2018

By: Greg Matter, Managing Director, JLL

The $700 billion a year trucking industry is a vital component of any company’s logistics strategy and is responsible for moving about 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the U.S. Last year, total business spending on logistics in this country rose 6.2 percent to $1.5 trillion. Industry costs are rising, largely due to increased demand, higher fuel prices and, most importantly, a growing shortage of drivers.

Labor crisis

Fewer younger workers are becoming truck drivers and more are nearing retirement age. Estimates point to an industry short of 60,000 drivers by next year. This shortfall could be three times worse by 2029.

“…autonomous vehicle technology isn’t arriving nearly fast enough to solve the industry’s looming labor crisis.”

Automation could be the savior of the trucking sector, but even with the tremendous advancements we are seeing today, so-called autonomous vehicle technology isn’t arriving nearly fast enough to solve the industry’s looming labor crisis. It will take more than a decade for the development and installation of the infrastructure necessary to enable truly self-driving trucks.

Look ahead

I moderated a recent ULI panel on this very topic and the insights were very enlightening. What’s clear is that there is an automated future for logistics and, eventually, we will see this manifested in a variety of ways that will impact industrial real estate, from multi story warehousing to urban fulfillment centers, reuse of parking garages and public buildings as warehouses and enhanced “last-mile” delivery via lockers in shopping centers, apartments and office buildings.

About me

Greg Matter

I lead JLL’s Advanced Manufacturing Group as Managing Director. My expertise combines business consulting, workplace strategy with real estate negotiations. I enjoy working to optimize my client’s real estate portfolios while delivering on their strategic business objectives.

You can reach me directly by email at



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