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April 24, 2018

Trimble Keeps on Trucking with Hortonworks, Blockchain

The blockchain ledger and Hortonworks’ Hadoop and streaming data management solutions will be used in an ambitious new IT project by trucking software firm Trimble Transportation Enterprise Solutions to streamline the way the trucking industry handles data, shares information, and signs contracts.

It might not surprise you to learn that many business processes in the $724-billion American trucking industry are handled manually. The bigger operators have adopted electronic data interchange (EDI) to automate data handling, but considering that 90% of the 1.3 million trucking companies in the United States have six or fewer trucks (per Business Insider), it’s easy to see why people are required to ensure individual files get where they need to and why the spreadsheet still reigns supreme.

Now Trimble, a $2.4-billion conglomerate that got its start making global positioning systems (GPS), is trying to remake the trucking industry with emerging big data tech. Today the Sunnyvale, California company announced that it’s tapped Hortonworks‘ data-at-rest and data-in-motion platforms to help it take data management for freight operations to the next level.

Trimble says a key challenge faced by its Transportation Enterprise Solutions subsidiary is the need to acquire data from multiple data sources and devices. Since its acquisition of TMW Systems in 2012, the company has developed enterprise trucking software that runs on Intel and IBM i platforms. It also provides an array of mobile communications, routing, and analytics offerings through its PeopleNet, ALK Technologies, and Vusion offerings, among others.

The Hortonworks Data Flow product made it easy for Trimble to ingest, transform, and route all this data into its data lake, which is powered by Hortonworks Distribution of Hadoop (HDP). The company says that key pieces of data that are relevant to the transportation and logistics processes are pushed by HDF into Trimble’s “inter-related collection of seven blockchains.”

HDF enables data provenance on the streaming data, the company says, while Trimble’s blockchains provide the auditability and immutability that is required when bidding or awarding contract freight requests for proposals (RFPs) and contracts, and for commitment tracking.

Trimble says customers are benefiting from the new system by reducing manual work with “old antiquated systems” by 50%.  It also says the Hortonworks software has helped it to consolidate data sets for 95% of the carriers.

“Our work with Hortonworks has allowed us to deliver next-generation tools to our thousands of customers in one easy-to-adopt platform,” says Trimble EVP of Operations and Chief Technology Officer Timothy Leonard in a press release.

Michael Ger, the Hortonworks general manager of industrial manufacturing and automotive solutions, says Trimble is “at the forefront of its industry by bringing big data, machine learning and blockchain technologies” to its customers.

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