Let’s talk about Blockchain technology in transportation management. Blockchain tends to be synonymous with cryptocurrencies, but they aren’t equivalent. Rather, it powers cryptocurrencies through digital ledgers. These ledgers track assets, such as money, foodstuffs, and other products, recording them chronologically and distributing them democratically.
Put more simply, blockchain technology amplifies traditional spreadsheets, transforming them into always-active digital ledgers. Multiple computer networks contribute to those ledgers as well as govern them—hence the “democratic,” or decentralized, structure.
Blockchain technology in transportation management improves effectiveness because of the technology’s capability and chronological elements. The security of blockchain procedures can reduce data entry errors and protect against data corruption, leaks, and breaches. And the chronological elements help with security, logging every time and place an asset changes. A company can look at that information to trim costs, using it to isolate where and when assets spoil or get lost.
3 Applications of Blockchain Technology in Transportation Management
The blockchain isn’t wildly popular in transportation management yet. However, its usefulness is growing, as showcased by these three examples.
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Yael Tamar, CEO and founder of DigiMark, a blockchain-focused marketing agency, suggests blockchain technology could improve food safety. “Currently,” Tamar explains, “the global giants in the food business, such as Nestle, Unilever, and Dole, normally competitors, are coming together with Walmart to form a standard of using blockchain to ensure food safety. . . . This has obvious implications for food safety—when salmonella or other contaminants are discovered in an item . . . it would be simple to discover from where those items came and to which stores those items were sold, generating potential cost savings.” Tamar points out multiple benefits of blockchain tech but also misses one: applying the blockchain to food safety could protect the public from foodborne illnesses too.
Error-Free Shipment Tracking
Another application lies with shipping and logistics. Michael Russell at Shippers Supplies believes blockchain technology will prevent lost shipments. “The idea of information always being repeated and verified,” Russell says, “prevents errors from occurring. I think we’re on the verge of seeing fewer errors and a lot more organization inside a lot of major shipping companies.” If he’s right, packages should start arriving on time more often and in pristine condition.
Streamlined Payment Systems
Blockchain technology in transportation management could also create “a streamlined payment system,” says Sarah Holder at Trucks.com. “Blockchain technology can create a ‘digitized roadmap’ of routes, and smart contracts written into the blockchain can trigger the transfer of funds to a driver instantaneously once a delivery has been completed.” The capability would result in streamlined payments and new performance standards for drivers and shipments.
3 Implications of Blockchain Technology in Transportation Management
The above applications either exist or are being created. But the implications for Blockchain technology in transportation management, such as the three listed below, are still unfolding.
Alan Majer, CEO of Good Robot, envisions a future in which cars not only drive themselves but also own themselves. “Blockchain enabled autonomous smart contracts,” says Majer. “In the long term, we may see autonomous vehicles that . . . earn their sustenance much like an Uber driver does today. . . . [These] cars could earn money from fares and use the income to pay for gas, parking, and maintenance. Eventually, if enough funds are saved, the car could purchase another copy of itself.”
Systems of Trust
Self-owned vehicles might be a few or many years away, but blockchain technology in transportation management could result in more far-reaching implications in the near future, particularly as it applies to shipping and logistics. Today, the industry is rife with incorrect or tampered information. Blockchain could prevent both situations since it validates data along the entire network. According to Phillip Windley at Computerworld, the technology not only creates a system of trust but also offers assurances about identity and authenticity.
Larry Kahaner at Fleet Owner posits blockchain technology could protect freight carriers against liability claims. The technology tracks goods at every point of the supply chain, meaning the carrier always knows the product’s status, time stamp, location, and other information. Carriers could then use that information to mitigate fees for damaged or late products and possibly lower their insurance premiums.
3 Tips to Implement Blockchain Technology in Transportation Management
While corporations are just starting to see the benefits of blockchain technology, transportation management companies that desire to invest in it should employ the following three tips.
This article’s introduction serves as a brief primer on what blockchain technology is. However, businesses wanting to employ it should study it in more depth. They should also research best practices for development, such as using the application development framework Hyperledger Composer.
The blockchain is a nascent technology, so businesses should approach it with some caution. Small-scale investments offer some protection against loss. Plus, starting small allows businesses to figure out how the technology best serves their needs.
Blockchain applications typically handle thousands, if not millions, of data streams, which means they need a high-speed, reliable connection. Companies considering blockchain technology in transportation management should assess their internet service and pursue another Internet Service Provider (ISP) if theirs can’t provide adequate speed and reliability.
Blockchain technology could positively impact transportation management. If implemented, the technology could save on overhead, streamline shipments, prevent errors, protect against liability issues, and safeguard public health.