Blockchain and trucking. If you ask a random person whether these go together, they’d probably say “Yes.” And why not? Chains, blocks. Sounds like part of a truck. Probably near the transmission. But as someone actually IN the commercial truck repair industry, you’re probably asking: “What the heck is blockchain?”
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a list of transactions, secured with cryptography. That’s it. And when you dig into the details, there are some simple yet amazing properties to blockchain that could revolutionize how the world does business, including commercial truck repair. For example, a blockchain could provide a maintenance and repair history for every truck on the road.
Transactions are just business events, like buying a part or paying an employee. In commercial truck repair, there are certain transactions that a lot of people care about, like DOT inspections, preventive maintenance, and parts warranties.
Cryptography is the practice of protecting data from outsiders. If you saw the movie The Imitation Game, during World War II Germany encrypted its important radio communications using an Enigma machine. A group of British mathematicians led by Alan Turing secretly broke this encryption. And this played a critical role in Germany’s defeat.
Blockchain and Commercial Truck Repair
So what could blockchain have to do with commercial truck repair? Consider the following:
- We still document DOT inspections with a sticker and a carbonless form.
- Effective preventive maintenance tracking is to the industry what losing weight is to a lot of us: we know it needs to be done, but most of us just can’t seem to pull it off.
- Tracking parts warranties can be so cumbersome that often we either aren’t even aware there is a warranty, or we don’t even try to find out.
Imagine a world where DOT inspections are recorded in a public blockchain. Anyone with the key can quickly look up and prove that a certain truck passed inspection on a certain date. So it wouldn’t matter if that inspection happened in Kansas, a rebuffed lot lizard pulled the sticker off in Colorado, and the DOT inspector pulled the driver over in California. The blockchain safely holds the DOT inspection.
Imagine a world where regardless of where the PM is done, it’s logged in the blockchain. The fleet manager can see it, your next shop can see it, and therefore all PMs are done on time. Unscheduled downtime would be greatly reduced, and the cost of running a fleet would plummet.
Imagine a world where the truck shop is warned while replacing a part that it was replaced just seven months ago and is still under warranty–even if it was a shop across the country that did it? Not only would this greatly reduce fleet costs, but it would help the technician diagnose the root cause of an issue, instead of switching out a part that might have been replaced five times in the last 18 months.
Fullbay recently joined the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance, and is helping set the standard for blockchain in commercial truck repair. Right now it’s a bit like the Internet in 1994, but we have a solid vision of where this can take our industry.