Blockchain – a technology platform that allows for secured and immutable exchange of information and streamlining payment transactions – is gaining more and more momentum in the industry, reports Fleet Owner.
Brad Taylor, vice president of data and IOT solutions at Omnitracs, said the company became interested in joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), which is setting the governance standards for blockchain in transportation and logistics.
“We had been tracking blockchain internally but we wanted to see to a certain extent what was going to happen in the industry and how quick the uptake was going to be,” Taylor told Fleet Owner. “We were very pleased to see how quickly the interest expanded.”
Taylor added that he believes there will be a full, industry-wide adoption of blockchain in the next couple of years. “I’ve been surprised with the momentum and the interest from the industry,” he said.
Mauricio Paredes, vice president of business technology at P&S, explained the company joined BiTA early on due to the appeal of securely sharing data among all the parties in the supply chain and the efficiencies it will bring to P&S and its affiliates.
The specific example that got the company’s management behind BiTA was the idea of a digitalized bill of lading (BOL).
“Currently, we have many processes that are bound to that particular piece of paper (or an image of it) moving through the delivery process,” he noted. “Having a digital BOL, securely placed on the blockchain, will streamline every single process for any carrier.”
Blockchain is expected to provide an instant audit for electronic logging devices (ELDs) and truck drivers’ hours of service (HOS). Paredes explained that since every transaction within the chain is immutable once committed, fleet executives would have an unchangeable version of drivers’ service hours.
This “could be complemented with additional data points,” he noted. “For example, we can write the fuel purchase time stamp to the same chain, their parking stops, etc. It’s an instant audit.”
Additionally, ELDs posting location times to the blockchain could help carriers instantly confirm with their customers of arrivals and departures.
Omnitracs’ Taylor pointed out, however, that one of the biggest hurdles the industry has to overcome when it comes to blockchain is how it validates and shares hours of service.
“The new ELD requirements have placed tremendous emphasis on maintaining the privacy of the driver while still having the ELD as an effective tool to enforce safety standards through what driving hours are being observed,” he stressed.
“I think that blockchain has a lot of potential for that because you want to be able to share maybe parts of the driving record – meaning the times that you’re on your way and driving on a commercial basis in the delivery process,” Taylor added. “But we don’t want to provide information about details that would break the visibility the driver needs to have for their personal conveyance, as an example. Blockchain has tremendous potential in that area, but we still have to have regulatory approvals to do things like that.”