August 30, 2021

Rick Burnett: Eradicating massive loopholes in the freight transportation industry. The solution: a direct freight network backed by blockchain

It has been more than 200 years since the first industrial revolution. Since then, we have witnessed wave after wave of innovations that have changed the world. Behind them were inventors and problem solvers. And one such visionary is Rick Burnett. The Founder and CEO of LaneAxis, Inc. has made more contributions to the supply-chain industry than one could ask for. He is passionate about transforming the freight industry and sees his legacy to be reflected in a dramatically improved supply chain that operates with true efficiency and fairness for all parties involved. 

Rick knows supply chain in and out; being from a transportation logistics background he struck the right key points of the industry for his company to grow. He prefers to keep things simple yet always striving to get smarter. He eliminates the junk information from his conscious that will not enhance his knowledge or business strategies in any meaningful way. Every day, he looks for new and improved ways to feed his mind with information about supply chains that will elevate his business, strategies, and mental health. “When I was a partner in a trucking company, the biggest issue we had was simply visibility – or more to the point a lack of it,” says Rick. In the “old days,” he would utilize teams of people to make phone calls to drivers trying to find out where exactly they were located, whether they were on time or running late, and much more. He realized that the freight transportation industry was lacking a cohesive independent trucker network and woefully behind the times in terms of technology. He identified that leveraging GPS technology via mobile phone is a better way to provide true visibility and transparency for freight movements. He also believed that there had to be a better way to handle shipment processes and the mountains of paperwork associated with freight movements. “There are a lot of components in order for that point A to point B movement to take place, contracts, insurance, rate negotiations, driver and carrier safety, and on-time history,” says Rick. Even today, much of this ‘busy work’ is still conducted through phone calls, faxing, and emails. Thus, Rick and his team work to take out those complexities and simplify them to make freight movements as simple as possible. 

“When I was a partner in a trucking company, the biggest issue we had was simply visibility – or more to the point a lack of it”

Challenging the status quo

Newport Beach, California-based LaneAxis was founded in 2015 to change the freight industry. The road was anything but easy. In the early phase, it was hard to raise capital and pitch a vision that many people simply didn’t understand. Rick shares, “You’re often trying to explain how to change a complex industry that most people don’t understand.” For Rick, the key was always having “a good feel for your audience/potential investor, and tailoring your message to their level of understanding and their ultimate objectives.” Soon, post-investments, LaneAxis created the first “Brokerless” Shipper-to-Carrier Direct Freight Network powered by blockchain and the AXIS Utility Token – potentially eliminating $200 billion in “managed fees,” 28 billion empty truck miles per year, and streamlining an industry that lacks transparency, trust, and efficiency. From farm to table or manufacturer to store shelves, Rick’s goal is to flatten every friction point in the supply chain. “Built on a foundation of patented technology, Artificial Intelligence, and blockchain security and transparency, the LaneAxis Direct Network eliminates the need for costly and often unscrupulous brokers who have placed a stranglehold on the industry,” highlights Rick. Even during times of turmoil, such as the COVID-19 supply chain emergency, the company showed its platform can mitigate the inefficiencies that allow these events to foster. When shelves run empty and mountains of freight need to move fast, LaneAxis provides shippers online visibility and direct connectivity into a pool of millions of drivers. Currently, this process is handled by phone calls, faxes, emails, and other inefficient processes that can drastically delay the movement of food, medical supplies, and other critical items. “It’s a lofty goal, but our end game is to help build a better world by building a better supply chain,” says Rick.

Leveling the field

Rick claims that there are no competitors that are building a true BROKERLESS shipper-to-carrier direct network. For over a decade, the industry has become massive and in the U.S. alone freight transportation is a nearly $1 trillion industry, and globally it’s about $12 trillion. Having said that, the market is flooded with plenty of good technology – but the tech landscape is completely fragmented and disparate. “All other systems out there, even blockchain-based supply chain platforms such as Uship, ShipChain, and TradeLens, are not focused on building a direct brokerless network,” says Rick. According to Rick, these companies are far more focused on chain-of-custody, logistics planning, and document management, and integrity vis-a-vis the blockchain. “Valuable services to be sure – but all services that LaneAxis also offers. LaneAxis can do everything they do – but they cannot do what LaneAxis does – or at least they’re not trying to,” adds Rick. “LaneAxis also owns valuable Intellectual Property in the form of a fully patented Shipper to Carrier direct model. U.S. Patent 9,928,475 – officially titled “Shipper and Carrier Interaction Optimization Platform” – was approved in March of 2018.” This process helps ensure total trust and transparency between parties – and gives LaneAxis a tremendous competitive edge over its competition to build a true direct network. Besides, Rick points out brokers and third-party logistics companies (3PLs) wield too much power in the industry, and other supply chain tech companies simply don’t want to close off or antagonize such a powerful group. He is aware that small trucking companies are struggling – but the extent to which mega carriers and freight brokers take advantage of these small carriers does surprise him and motivates him to do something about it. Rick’s other goal, “is to level the playing field for these small “mom and pop” trucking companies by arming them with the tools, technology, and direct network they need to compete with big trucking companies and eliminate the need to utilize freight brokers – which consume anywhere from 15-50% commissions.

Though the path is tough, Rick always strives to do the right thing. He believes that successful entrepreneurs and people are the ones that survive massive storms and find a way to dig deep, get up and keep pushing forward. Hence, Rick continues to trailblaze a new path for the global supply chain. He is pushing forward to streamline the badly broken freight transportation industry for the benefit of all supply chain participants, from suppliers to manufacturers to truckers and all the way down to consumers – who are paying too much for products because of these gross inefficiencies.

Man indoors giving a presentation in Shanghai
Rick in Shanghai describing the problems his technology can solve.

Envisioning the future

We are quite aware that blockchain is the future; Rick wants to bring that thought into reality. LaneAxis is currently integrating its blockchain and AXIS Token solution into its patented core SaaS platform. “We’re excited to expand our network to a “critical mass” where NOT joining the LaneAxis network would be a poor business decision on the part of shippers and/or carriers,” he adds. The company plans to achieve a “network effect” in the U.S. Once it does, the next step will be establishing a global footprint for its platform. 

Meanwhile, Rick in the next five years envisions LaneAxis as a leading global freight network that has the capability to truly transform the supply chain. The biggest risk factor in this specific industry is the competitive landscape which continues to grow, yet LaneAxis is well ahead of the pack. Rick says, “There is a wealth of disparate supply chain technology out there, but we believe no one has created a truly holistic, all-encompassing solution as we have.” The company has always focused on “future-proofing” its platform to remain not just relevant, but dominant. “When you combine the power of the blockchain with the power of a shipper-to-carrier direct network, we have set ourselves up very well for the next 3-7 years. And we will maintain our company’s “competency” by continually learning, shifting strategies as needed, and relying on the brightest minds both within and outside our company to plot the best course forward,” says Rick. For him, it’s just the beginning.

The other goal, “is to level the playing field for these small “mom and pop” trucking companies by arming them with the tools, technology, and direct network they need to compete with big trucking companies and eliminate the need to utilize freight brokers – which consume anywhere from 15-50% commissions.”

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