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Truckers stand to benefit from blockchain

May 20, 2019
Secure records often provide legal protection and quality assurance for both carriers and shippers.

Editor's note: This is the fifth and final part in a series on blockchain and its role in trucking. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

While discussion surrounding blockchain technology often focuses on the secure tracking of goods and financial transactions, proponents see truck drivers also reaping benefits. These benefits can start even before a driver is behind the wheel.

Rick Burnett, CEO of LaneAxis, said rather than relying on a sheet of paper, hiring managers can examine an incorruptible record of a candidate’s driving history stored on public blockchain.

John Monarch, CEO of ShipChain, compared a trucker’s driving history on the blockchain with medical records that go with a patient from doctor to doctor.

The technology executives both believe blockchain can give an advantage to safe, experienced drivers, whether they are seeking new positions or making a case for a raise. Likewise, secure records often provide legal protection and quality assurance for both carriers and shippers.

They also said the emergence of blockchain can help maximize fuel usage, optimize real-time routing, and ensure automatic, instantaneous payments.

Blockchain also provides insurance for carriers and geofencing to help ensure accurate pickup and delivery schedules.

According to a Texas A&M Transportation Institute report and other experts, additional benefits of blockchain technology include:

  • Preventing cyber attacks on connected vehicles, since their presence in the Internet of Things exposes them to such attacks.
  • Ensuring over-the-air updates are tamper proof.
  • Facilitating automated payments from vehicles for transactions, including fuel purchases, vehicle registration renewals, and routine maintenance.
  • Trusted ledger of maintenance activities performed on a vehicle throughout its life cycle.
  • Reducing tolling costs by eliminating the fees that tolling agencies pay on credit card transactions, estimated at more than $300 million annually nationwide. Blockchain could also facilitate the adoption of a nationwide interoperable toll system.

Challenges to blockchain adoption

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the following are the top challenges to blockchain adoption in trucking:

  • The novel nature of blockchain could limit its implementation to demonstration projects.
  • The assumption that validation of transactions will fall to a network of computers rather than a traditional third party is a foreign one and may prompt many people to simply disregard it.
  • Blockchain is not a formal database nor a cloud, so it cannot store documents; it can only provide a proof of existence.
  • The global nature of commerce means parties from multiple languages and currencies are involved, requiring some common data and standards.

This is the fifth and final part in a series on blockchain and its role in trucking. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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