What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a shared digital ledger that is secured via cryptography. This ledger is stored on a decentralized network that is distributed and available to all parties involved. Every time a new transaction or modification is made, it is tracked in the ledger for all parties to see. This makes it so that everyone is able to have access to a transparent and accurate record of all information and it's different 'versions'. Previous changes or transactions in the ledgers history cannot be modified without making a new entry.
Why does it Matter?
Contract Management & Smart Contracts: By having a transparent way to verify and distribute contracts (such as brokerage contracts, customer contracts, insurance contracts, etc.), not only will these processes be much easier, but they will also keep all parties involved honest.
Payment Processing: This one is a no-brainer for most everyone in the trucking industry. With most payments being delayed due to missing paperwork (such as bills of lading or receipts), this will allow for all parties to see not only what is needed for payment to be remitted but when it was remitted.
Supply Chain Management: Companies like Walmart are already using blockchain to evaluate food safety in tracking farm origination details, batch numbers, factory and processing data, expiration dates, storage temperature, and even shipping details for pork. Being able to utilize blockchain in this way will give warehousing and distribution companies a huge leg up in the supply chain atmosphere.
Asset Tracking: Maintenance is always a key factor in ensuring a transportation companies success. Blockchain will allow for one of the most accurate and transparent 360 degree views of all equipment from the second it's built, to when it leaves the manufacturer, to the dealer, and on the doorstep of the buyer. Following up and tracking preventative maintenance will now be able to incorporate information from other companies with similar equipment meaning better preventative schedules leading to more uptime.
Sensitive Information/Profiles: Driver DQ files, for instance, are a large part of the back offices responsibility in ensuring the overall fitness of a trucking companies driver staff. With things such as the D&A consortium being pushed in the coming years, blockchain will only add to usefulness and ease of tracking all of this information.
What's Happening Now?
One thing is for sure: blockchain is here to stay. I, for one, am excited to be involved in an industry that is very well aware of the impacts it will have on its future. The next 5 years will surely be interesting!