The logistics, freight and shipping industries today are built on a universe of antiquated databases, in which eye-watering sums of capital are tracked. With traditional methods for recording transactions and tracking shipments, participants on a network keep their own ledgers and other records in systems that do not always integrate. The result is a ground freight logistics market worth $1.6 trillion in the United States alone, comprising eight per cent of U.S. GDP, with no transparency for anyone involved in the value chain.

For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), this disjointed network makes the process of getting trade financing complex and painful. Consider that 60 per cent of SME trade finance requests are denied. For freight operators, the process results in inefficiency and a lack of insight with respect to shipping loads. Approximately 700 million loads are transported each year, but RoadLaunch estimates that more than 18 million trucks with 65 million trailers have upwards of 50 per cent unused capacity.

This challenge gave Cory Skinner, founder of RoadLaunch and an expert on supply chain management, all he needed to expand into the blockchain space. RoadLaunch provides a live application that uses locations, freight and intelligent tools to match loads with trucks and trailers in real time.

RoadLaunch products allow fleet managers to save time and connect securely with trusted freight partners using technology integrations for load boards and air/sea/ground shippers. They also link fleet managers to a central dashboard that provides fleet visibility, smart matched loads, automated tasks, instant documents, order management and instant payments.

Naturally, the next step was to add a decentralized, immutable blockchain ledger for the logistics and freight industry, advancing and enhancing supply chain transparency and enabling trusted global freight, fleet and logistics transactions management.

Skinner and his team applied for the IBM Innovation Incubator’s Project Support Program, managed by Communitech, IBM, and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The program provided contractors to help integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain into the core business functions of successful applicants.

The program was utilized to implement FactR, a smart contract system built on the Stellar infrastructure, which all parties in logistics could use to track shipments in a transparent manner. In just under four months, through rapid prototyping and iterative development, the team moved to live demonstrations and implementation testing.

FactR drove trust and automation in freight logistics transactions, lowering operations costs and enabling instant finance settlement. FactR tokens on blockchain enabled entry to global exchange platforms and allowed seamless transactions between parties in different countries.

FactR has since become a payment system standard in its own right, separate but integrated into the RoadLaunch system. The team expects it to become a global standard for traceability or chain of custody in freight, but its applications have expanded beyond that, for more general asset purchases and transfers that require extensive tracking.

RoadLaunch has grown in parallel. Partnering with Miovision, the application has moved to include cross border pre-clearing features for freight, to save idling time in trucking operations. In 2019, RoadLaunch also received additional funding from the Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation (ENCQOR 5G) Demonstration Program. The program provides companies resources to utilize the 5G Innovation Platform as a Service (iPaaS) testbed to build 5G into their core products. In RoadLaunch’s case, sensors for freight load detection were integrated into the testbed to continue driving growth and efficiency in global freight using internet of things (IoT) and cloud technologies.

Today, Communitech continues to sponsor the next generation of revolutionary technology integration programs, such as those used by RoadLaunch to develop their intelligent blockchain based freight ledgers, and IoT load detection sensors. Contact us to learn more about current funding opportunities and other services such as ENCQOR 5G, and join RoadLaunch in our next advanced technology cohort.