Blockchains and Your Shop's Management System

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June 14, 2018—Each week, blockchain technology seems to gain more and more of a presence—and soon it could be part of your shop’s management system.

Earlier this week, Ratchet+Wrench posted news regarding SHIFTMobility’s release of CarCheck Pro, a vehicle inspection service that enables any service center to add or retrieve vehicle information from blockchains. Ratchet+Wrench spoke with SHIFTMobility’s marketing director, Elliott Schendel to learn more about the product, and its tie in to blockchain.

Blockchains, essentially, store all information gathered during a transaction. Today, 15 percent of all banking transactions are made through blockchains.

Blockchains are inspired by a popular form of digital money better known as “Bitcoin.” Essentially, transactions made within the Bitcoin system are stored digitally without being governed by a centralized authority.

That system now translates to vehicles through blockchains. Essentially, as transactions for a vehicle—which could include anything from parts replaced to car accidents to vehicle inspections—are stored digitally, they form a “blockchain” that any party in the blockchain, including auto repair shops, can access.

The true appeal of this system is that information added to the blockchain cannot be hacked without going through every component of the blockchain.

Blockchains aim to improve efficiency at auto repair shops, said the co-founder CarFix Vladimir Lupenko, who spoke with Ratchet+Wrench last year about how blockchains will soon play a significant role in shops.

According to Schendel, SHIFTMobility currently works with more than 2,000 shops, mostly independent repair shops, and is partnered with associations like the ACA and ASA, and parts companies like Bosch and WORLDPAC.

In early May, SHIFTMobility released a blockchain-powered platform for the automotive industry for its cloud platform. Later that month, the company released CarCheck Pro, a vehicle inspection service which can be implemented into its shop management software, ShopLite. CarCheck Pro enables a service center to quickly add or retrieve vehicle information from blockchains via an integrated VIN scanner or license plate lookup.

Schendel says that the blockchain files are essentially a fingerprint of a vehicle, including all the services that vehicle has received. All of that data can transfer with the vehicle should ownership ever change hands.

“All apps run on our automotive cloud platform, and the information is stored securely in the cloud,” Schendel says. “When a service is completed, another block is added to that history. Each one of those is adding to that specific vehicle’s individual chain.”

If customers choose, they can connect themselves and their vehicles to their preferred repair shop through the interface. If something goes wrong while they’re driving, the vehicle can communicate that with the repair shop.

“It’s helpful for when that happens, their vehicle can communicate that with the repair shop,” Schendel says. “Then they can get an answer as to if something is serious, or if they can wait on it for a couple of days.”

While the industry is still catching on to blockchain technology, Schendel predicts it will become more mainstream in the near future.

“Most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, but it’s a lot more than that. We have major financial institutions spending a large amount onto research into blockchain,” Schendel says. “I have no doubt that it’s going to spread throughout the automotive industry.”

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