Trucks at Work

Logistics set to music

It’s not every day that you see the freight business celebrated in a music video, but that’s exactly what GE Transportation – with the help of internet design firm Barbarian Group and Reuben Wu of British electronica band Ladytron – cooked up below:

It’s pretty interesting to hear the actual sounds generated every day within intermodal operations collected and reconfigured into “music” this way, but it also helps shine some much needed artistic light on a taken-for-granted enterprise that underpins daily life in this nation of ours.

Yet it’s also worthy to note that trucking by itself hauls far more of all the goods shipped in the U.S. than intermodal handles.

Just check out some of the statistics in the new Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the Census Bureau:

  • American manufacturers and related industries shipped almost 11.7 billion tons of goods valued at more than $13.6 trillion in 2012.
  • Trucks alone moved over 8 billion tons in shipments valued at $10 trillion in 2012, representing more than 70%of both the value and the weight of freight as reported in the CFS (which, by the way, covers about three-fourths of all freight movements, excluding imports, shipments from farms, crude oil production, and a few smaller categories.)
  • Intermodal or “multiple mode” shipments using more than one type of transportation, including parcel shipments, were second to trucking in shipment value, at $1.8 trillion for a share of more than 13% of total freight value and 347 million tons or 3% of total freight weight.
  • Of all multiple-mode shipments, parcel represented the most by value ($1.6 trillion or 11.6% of total freight value) while truck-rail combination carried the most weight (224 million tons or 1.9% of total freight weight).
  • Rail was the second most-used mode by weight, carrying 1.8 billion tons of freight for a 16% share by weight but only $455 billion or 3% of goods by value.
  • Based on ton-miles, a measure derived by multiplying weight by distance shipped, rail accounted for 44.5% and trucking accounted for 38.1% of freight transported as reported in the CFS.
  • Shipments totaling 6.4 billion tons, over half of the total weight of all shipments captured by the CFS, moved less than 50 miles, while shipments traveling less than 250 miles represented more than 60% of value recorded in the 2012 CFS.
  • Shipments of less than 50 pounds traveled an average of 695 miles while shipments of 50 to 99 pounds traveled an average of 361 miles.
  • More than 71% of total shipment value captured by the CFS is represented by shipments weighing over 1,000 pounds, with more than 92% of the tons represented by shipments of more than 10,000 pounds.

I think that pretty clearly shows the scope and importance of the freight industry to the U.S. way of life. Yet with trucking hauling so much of everything, it deserves the final “musical say” to my way of thinking. So here’s a trucking-themed music video to wrap up today’s post:

Next week in this space we’ll be chronicling the annual Rush Truck Center Technician Rodeo from San Antonio, TX, so make sure to click on in and check it out.

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