Every day it seems like there’s something new to wrap your head around in the world of technology. Living in the digital age means finding new avenues for tasks and communication almost constantly. Though the trucking industry has a notoriously slow adoption rate of new technology, it’s wise to consider what new tech is out there. Of course, ELDs are still a hot topic, but what about using new technology for an undeniably positive impact? Here we’ll look at blockchain in trucking — what it is and how it is on the horizon.
By now you’ve heard of Bitcoin and probably thought this: Digital money? What’s it backed by? …Wait what is any of our money backed by anymore? Writing in the active voice. Writing in the active voice. writing in the active voice.
Yes, U.S. currency dropped the gold standard in 1934. Really, the point is that money is only worth the goods and services it can access. Bitcoins are unique lines of computer code unable to be duplicated and therefore used for secure transactions via blockchain networks. These blockchains are comprised of a database distributed across a peer-to-peer network without a central authority. This means that network participants must agree on the validity of transactions to record the transfer of currency. Of course, there are a lot more details that warrant a blog post all its own.
What Blockchain in Trucking Could Look Like
Moving forward, it’s important to establish the fact that Bitcoin and blockchain are not the exact same thing. One is a cryptocurrency and the other is a ledger system used to transfer that cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, using blockchain in trucking represents one of the single most impactful technologies the industry has seen in a while.
Sure, blockchain networks can be used to track cryptocurrency, although it’s also extremely useful in tracking federal currency and transactions. Additionally, tangible assets like trucks and freight or even intangible things like patents can all be securely tracked and traded using blockchain networks. Virtually anything that holds value can be paid for using this technology.
The Reality of Virtual Networks
This is to say that using blockchain in trucking and logistics represents a significant area of application for this technology. Using this secure ledger and streamlined payment system, blockchains can create digital roadmaps of a driver’s route. When they reach their destination and the delivery has been made, ‘smart contracts’ established within the network can trigger an automatic transfer of funds directly to the driver.
Additionally, blockchain allows trucking companies to maintain completely accurate records on each truck in their fleet — tracking every instance of maintenance given or damage incurred throughout a vehicle’s lifetime. This has the potential to allow much more comprehensive records of each vehicle from the moment it rolls off the assembly line!
Logistics is another area where blockchain in trucking is useful. Take for instance the issue of contaminated shipments of lettuce containing salmonella. Had distributors been on a blockchain network, it would have taken minutes to track where the contaminated shipments had been delivered… Instead, it took 2 weeks! The same could be applied to defective electronics or recalled children’s toys.
Current Tests and Success
Already, Walmart and IBM have run two successful tests using blockchain based in Hyperledger Fabric to track Chinese pork and Mexican mangoes. Others like Swiss food supply chain company, Ambrosus use the technology to “reliably record the entire history of food from farm to fork.” Consider that these are isolated experiments, these examples should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the promise of these technologies for shipping, logistics, and finance are quite exciting.
Using blockchain in trucking also opens up the potential for load-matching apps, serving to easily identify distribution networks and coordination efficient load distribution. The ideal outcome would help companies to adapt to the driver shortage while maximizing fuel efficiencies and areas for budget cuts. Although it’s still in its infancy, blockchain in trucking is looking like one of the most disruptive, but beneficial technologies the industry has seen in a long while! Writing in the active voice.
What are your thoughts on blockchain in trucking and logistics? Let us know in the comments below!