Transportation industries depend on complex and “just in time” supply chains that only work as well as the chain of labor servicing them. Truckers are a critical link in the logistics infrastructure, providing essential work for precarious pay in arduous conditions.
Despite the extreme need for drivers that are happy and efficient in their jobs, real wages for drivers have dropped over 30% in the U.S.A, while brokers and logistics platforms continue to see increasing shares of the new found profitability.
The decrease in wages correlates with power asymmetries in financial and logistical technologies, relative to the proportionate increase in labor efficiency in the same time frame. This led us to a scenario where drivers are required to comply with policies that constrain their ability to live free and happy lives which in tail, leads to low retention rates. Because their jobs keep them away from home for long periods, the short end of the stick is left with drivers who must compromise personal lifestyle to make a paycheck. It appears that this divergence between driver retention and overall market expansion is primarily caused by the gap between technology adoption growth and driver lifestyle improvements.
The hope with emerging technologies like blockchain and decentralization is to give employees in companies more protections, more ability to contribute to company changes, and a better balance of authority when it comes to the allocation of company profits, etc.
The implications of said technologies could improve the ability for group voting and allocation of capital through mechanisms rooted in blockchains. These organizations are known as DAOs or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations.
DAOs are commonly used to determine and enforce:
- Voting rights for members
- Entry and exit conditions in agreements
- Fund allocation
- Governance permissions
- Interaction between the DAO and external entities
The leading challenge at current is a lack of service providers with technology that can manage all of the required processes and systems to operate a transportation company in a decentralized fashion.
Truckers are also oftentimes contractors and precarious employees with difficulties acquiring the benefits that they would get as W2 employees. Data shows that of the 1.8 million truckers in the US, 38% of them don’t have health insurance, and 350,000 are owners acting as freelance operators. Insurance accessibility is also an issue for freelance drivers.
- The drive to automation by stakeholders, from policymakers to logistics platforms, increases the pressure on truckers to perform and illuminates blind spots in day-to-day operations that could have implications that are yet to be discovered.
- Widespread regulatory insistence on behavioral and logistical surveillance, and mandated electronic tracking of working hours, leads to intrusive management structures that can drive down employee satisfaction and in turn lower performance and retention.
- Lack of coordination and incentive alignment between leadership and employees around areas of optimization allows for companies to have access to nearly unlimited bargaining positions to grow authority and dictate work conditions unopposed.
The opportunity for the industry and companies to benefit from the new technology is still unmeasurable because the outcome-based protocol capabilities are still being explored.
Companies who integrate with the technology early will likely see tremendous benefits that would not only make the operations of the business much more fluid and efficient, it would also enable more actionable insights to steer operations long before the potential improvement would have been visible before the migration.
By pooling data on the blockchain, the effect is essentially public datasets that anyone with an API endpoint could tap into. The driving data would then be anonymized, aggregated, and resold with proceeds split between contributors to the data pool (in this case that would be the trucking companies.
Some of the data that will be made available on the blockchain include:
- Wear and tear of the vehicles
- Road & traffic conditions
- Rest area occupation rate
- Fuel consumption trends
- Ride compensation rates
The incentives available in the semi-guaranteeable ‘contracts’, better referred to as ‘handshakes’, for network contributors are widespread. A new wave of innovation in the industry in more areas than just corporate benchmarks underpinned by profits is likely to take place. E.g. the tech could allow for financial foundations that prioritize the driver before anyone else 100% of the time, indefinitely.