3 Strategies Driving Productivity in the Shipping Industry.

Carl Pullein
4 min readApr 17, 2024


Shipping is the backbone of global supply chains. Without reliable, efficient trucking routes and delivery systems, commerce around the world would grind to a halt.

The wonderful Katie Brenneman writes this week’s article. Thank you, Katie, for writing this for me.

Claims that the shipping industry is among the most important in the world aren’t idle speculation, either. In 2023, the United States learned just how crucial effective shipping is when faced with a truck driver shortage. The U.S. is already short 80,000 drivers, and this gap is expected to double by 2030. This represents a serious threat to the supply chain, both now and in the coming years.

Fortunately, shipping firms that care about achieving peak productivity can lean on emergent technology to improve their operational efficiency. Even simple experimental changes, like prototyping new parts on trucks, can lead to a jump in productivity and help companies in shipping stay at the leading edge of innovation.


Shipping is a risk-averse industry that relies on reliable routes and dependable technology. However, that doesn’t mean shipping forms should avoid experimentation and prototyping. At its core, effective prototyping involves:

  • Modelling: Creating a preliminary model of non-production truck parts and software in a stable environment is key to effective prototyping. Today, trucking firms can even use simulation software to prototype parts in a virtual world before attaching new parts to real semi-trucks.
  • Rapid Testing: Digital 3D models can be tested and re-tested at an astounding rate to find faults and streamline design choices. This minimises the risk of flaws and reduces the amount of downtime truckers face when testing new parts and tech.
  • Functional Prototyping: Functional testing involves creating real-life versions of the proposed part. It’s commonly the final stage of a prototype and is only implemented when the experimental part or tech is worth the time, money, and effort to install.

Effective prototyping is crucial for the shipping industry’s productivity. Virtual models give engineers a chance to test and retest parts using digital tools. This streamlines the prototyping process and helps engineers find faults in parts before they’re fabricated. This significantly reduces the cost of development and helps shipping firms make more informed choices about the tools and parts they choose to install.

Productivity Software

Modern shipping is driven by data. This gives supply chain analysts the best opportunity to respond to threats and pivot away from issues that threaten to undermine the smooth functioning of the shipping industry. Shipping organisations can follow suit by using technology to optimise productivity. The benefits of a tech-driven approach include:

  • Cloud-based tech streamlines global communications and allows shipping professionals to work synchronously even when working remotely.
  • Workforce productivity analytics measures employees’ efficiency and empowers managers to make changes to the day-to-day procedures that affect productivity.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) tech simplifies data collection efforts and enhances the capability of automated business systems.
  • Workflow management software gives shipping professionals a visual representation of their daily tasks and instils a sense of responsibility at work.

These tech-based tools innately boost productivity in the shipping industry and minimise the risk of human error. This can make a world of difference to firms that are being left behind by more agile, high-tech competitors.

Tools like the IoT can help organisations leverage cutting-edge freighting technology, too. This is crucial, as the pandemic underlined the importance of agile procurement in modern trucking. Procurement technology uses IoT tech and data collection programs to automate much of the decision-making process and enhance operational efficiency. This empowers shipping professionals to make informed decisions based on accurate data when deciding between lanes and modes.


Diversity is often overlooked in the quest for increased productivity. Some folks even erroneously believe that companies with a commitment to diversity are forsaking productivity due to quota-based hiring. In reality, industry-leading shipping firms know that investing in diversity increases the knowledge base of their workforce and helps them anticipate issues that would blight their more homogenous competitors.

This is good news for women who want to break into male-dominated fields like shipping, too. Today, women have many automotive-based career opportunities, like diesel technicians, part designers, and heavy equipment mechanic specialists. Women who are drawn to the shipping industry can draw inspiration from leaders of shipping and automotive firms like Aruna Anand (Head of Continental Engineering Services), Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors), and Aicha Evans (CEO of Zoox). These women have strong ties to the shipping industry and show that progression is possible.

Firms that do champion women in shipping benefit from enhanced organisational performance, too. Put simply, businesses that emphasise diversity outperform less diverse peers and are more innovative than their competitors. This is crucial in a highly competitive world like shipping, where marginal gains and agile procurement can make a world of difference to an organisation’s stakeholders.


Shipping is a highly competitive industry that rewards productivity and reliability. Today, modern shipping firms can lean on several strategies to drive productivity and establish a competitive advantage. Even subtle changes, like switching to a more user-friendly workflow program, can empower employees, improve communication, and help employees reach their full potential while at work.

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specialising in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

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Carl Pullein

I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of. www.carlpullein.com