FTR To Explore Future of Freight Transportation at Annual Conference

The theme for this year's FTR Annual Transportation Conference is Gaining Traction: Next Year, Next Decade, and will cover a variety of topics including telematics and autonomous trucking.


FTR is set to hold its 13th annual Transportation Conference September 12-14 in Indianapolis, IN. This year’s theme is Gaining Traction: Next Year, Next Decade. As Noel Perry, Partner and Transportation Economist at FTR, notes, "If you don’t want to become obsolete, at the very least freight transportation companies need to be tracking and understanding all of the technological changes buffeting the industry. There will be big gains for early adopters of some of the technologies. But which technologies, and at which time-frames?”

The conference will hold a new series on Tuesday, September 12. Entitled “Freightology,” the day will be filled with quick hitting presentations by industry thought leaders exploring transformative ideas in the freight transportation sector. Presentations are 20 minutes and will provide attendees with thought provoking information, ideas, and innovations. A few of the sessions are highlighted here:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Transforming Transportation Management Systems (TMS) by Tim Minnich of Princeton TMX
  • Telematics: "OnStar" for Railcars by Dan Maraini of Amsted
  • Autonomous Trucking and Its Impact on the Commercial Vehicle Industry by Sandeep Kar of Frost & Sullivan
  • Uberization of Trucking: Using Technology to Maximize Transportation Infrastructure by Steve Sashihara of Princeton Consultants
  • Blockchain: Technology Revolutionizing Business Practices by Sebastian de Meel of PWC
  • Omni-Channel: Convergence of E-commerce, Brick and Mortar, and Warehousing by Kapil Nagpal of Nagarro

The conference keynote will be held Thursday, September 14, and is entitled, The Future of Transport: The Amazon Effect. The keynote will explore how Amazon is bending the freight transportation curve, taking the future in new directions. Whether it is buying their own trailers or increasing warehouses and inventories, Amazon is moving from disaggregation of the supply chain and toward consolidation. Food delivery and same day delivery is realistically on the table again because of Amazon. Amazon has opened up space for companies like Uber, who want to be a one-click option for freight delivery.

Does this lead to a more robust, dynamic transportation system than we currently have? Does it change how we deliver freight? Does it move toward smaller trucks? If so, do we need more equipment? Does it require a real-time freight environment? Walmart has stated that it will refuse to work with carriers who haul freight for Amazon. The future is contested.

“There are companies out there which upend our thinking about how the freight transportation system is supposed to work,” says Eric Starks, Chairman and CEO of FTR. “There are also technological innovations which are going to revolutionize how we move freight. My hope is that industry participants can give guidance and build some consensus about which technological changes are actually going to have an impact in the near and mid-term future.

“Planning and forecasting is based on assumptions. Big changes upend our assumptions and make planning for the future more difficult. That’s why the conference is so important. To be able to step back and discuss, with industry thought leaders and your peers, if things have changed.”

FTR’s annual conference is recognized for delivering the most complete and comprehensive outlook on freight transportation in North America. Attendees receive in-depth information from industry leaders on all the surface freight transport modes. Presentations and panel discussions cover the economy, freight demand, competition between modes, carrier & shipper behavior, and demand for new transport equipment.

This comprehensive conference offers content channels to help guide attendees toward the sessions most appropriate to their business needs. The four channels are: State of Freight; Shippers, Brokers, & Carriers; Rail Equipment; and Truck & Trailer Equipment. Over 70 industry thought leaders will present on current topics within each of these tracks.

“The FTR Transportation Conference is the only conference that brings together all the different aspects of the freight transportation world into one place,” says Larry Gross, Partner at FTR. “The freight transportation world is becoming much more interdependent. The ability to interact with Executive-level decision makers in all the modes in one place is quite unique, and extremely valuable.”