Blockchain: How Can It Support the ELD Mandate to Help the Trucking & Logistics Industry?

Written by Theodore Higgins
     

blockchainBlockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions that's distributed, but not copied, and public.

Therefore, it's a distributed public database.

Traditionally, databases are private and have multiple replicated copies. Their owners will back them up in case of data corruption or server failure. The databases of most banks store your transactions and back that data up offsite.

Sounds like that transaction data should be secure and easily maintainable, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that's not the case. If the server has a problem and the offsite backup is corrupt, the data is gone forever. Enter blockchain to the rescue.

Picture a list of your of transactions in a spreadsheet. Then, imagine that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other computers that have the very same spreadsheet and every time you add a transaction, everyone gets the new transaction.

What happens if one of those computers on the network goes down or gets corrupted? Absolutely nothing. Your transactions are everywhere. That's the very basic explanation of blockchain. In essence, it’s a publicly distributed database.

Ethereum is a famous blockchain example with real-life problem-solving examples. Ethereum is a decentralized application that supports cryptocurrency, which is just a fancy term for digital currency. You can use it to pay for things online, trade money and use it anywhere it’s accepted to purchase items.

Ethereum isn't just a cryptocurrency; it’s also a platform that can be used to distribute multiple types of data. Intel recently filed a patent that would allow vehicles to transmit data to third parties by using blockchain technology, which would protect driver/owner privacy.

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is causing a big upset in the trucking industry. Truck drivers make their money per mile. If they're restricted, they lose money. The ELD mandate is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers and make it easier to accurately track, manage and share records of duty status data.

Before the ELD mandate, truckers had a log book, which the government has referred to as a comic book. Skewing records helps truckers stay on the road longer, which in turn gets them more money, but this act could endanger other drivers as truckers fatigue and exceed their allowed miles.

The thought of using blockchain to assist in the ELD mandate has been brought up a few times. One potential case for blockchain is detention payout resolution. Detention time is when a driver is sitting at a bay waiting to pick up cargo. The longer the driver sits, the fewer miles they can accumulate. Dat.com provided some data on retention over the course of 30 days.

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By allowing the ELD to communicate truckers' records to a blockchain using event-based triggers such as GPS, geofencing and other types of data, more detailed records are kept as to what the drivers are doing to allow them more miles on the road.

Most trucking companies also charge for detention fees, and sometimes it’s hard to get a payout for those types of charges. Having an ELD device log their location via GPS will help back up their claim that yes, they were sitting at the bay waiting for cargo.

The key part of all of this is the communication of data to a blockchain, where the data is made public for everyone to see and no one person oversees it. Blockchain solves the problem of manipulation since every node on the network validates and stores each transaction.

Sources: Dat.com and Medium.com

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