Trucking fleet owners share a collective concern of paying for damages incurred with regard to freight movement or during the process of loading and unloading. Often, situations arise where the carriers end up paying for damages that they did not cause. This hassle is ubiquitous and perennial, to a point where fleets have accepted it to be a problem that is inherent in the system and in essence, unsolvable.
Enter PEIR (Photo Equipment Interchange Receipt) to the scene – a startup spinoff from parent company TCompanies – that is working on creating a realistic solution to this predicament. Founded by Tom Burke, PEIR helps fleets record photographic evidence at every interchange of consignments over specific points in time, making it irrefutable. “Our application makes a series of images that document an event in real-time, which is also authenticated and unchangeable, with the use of blockchain,” explains Burke.
A few years back, Burke was running a successful trucking company with over 350 trucks in his fleet and nine offices across the U.S. Back then, the company had to shell about $180,000 every year in damages as there was no viable way to prove they were not at fault.
“In the freight business, client satisfaction is very important. If we were held responsible for those damage bills and if we didn’t pay them, we would stop getting clients,” adds Burke.
To create an effective solution, Burke tried employing owner-operators as a part of his fleet. They were made responsible for protecting the company’s brand, but soon he realized that an average owner-operator might not have the passion for guarding the company’s interests as a regular employee would.
“Sometimes, they weren’t doing inspections the way they should. Other times, they were from a different country and did not have a clear understanding of what they needed to do or to describe damage at the exit point of a terminal they picked the freight from,” explains Burke. “So, at the end of it, we realized it was about developing a technology that could take pictures and make our stance irrefutable.”
Going forward, Burke plans to use blockchain to protect the authenticity of the pictures. “Blockchain can be trusted because if anything was changed in the series of pictures, it would drop out of the sequence and thus be easily traceable,” notes Burke. “We are also transmitting the location and time stamp along with the pictures. So, PEIR is an amazing tool for trucking companies for under a dollar.”
PEIR believes its services save fleet companies many hours of paperwork and the need for looking into interchanges that may have registered incoming freight with existing damages. “Not only do we save them time, but we also save them a headache in customer relationships and also repair bills that they may normally be paying because they have to,” adds Burke.
Burke calls PEIR a very inexpensive insurance policy. “We don’t just ascertain the condition of the freight, but also the integrity of the seal through the pictures clicked – this can prove when a trucking company showed up at a customer’s door and when the freight was picked up.”
Initially, PEIR had started out testing its application at railroad terminals and container depots. The process was tweaked further based on end-user experience and interviews with truckers. “We recently attended the Intermodal Association of North America trade show in Long Beach, where we debuted PEIR,” says Burke. “There was an overwhelming interest in PEIR at the show. A number of people are extremely eager to become our beta-testers before our official launch in early 2018.”
The most significant hurdle in the transportation industry was its seeming reluctance in adapting to change. But the situation is improving now, feels Burke. “I have been in this business for 30 years and never has the marketplace been this willing to adopt new technology. We are looking to work on one iteration that will make the product turnkey. And hopefully, we will be widely adopted and used in the industry.”
PEIR is looking to scale up its operations across the U.S. and Canada and venture into Mexico once it has established a firm foothold in these countries.
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