In a nutshell, blockchain automatically makes a record of every time a shipment changes hands, creating a permanent, un-hackable history that would be visible to everyone. This reduces inefficiencies, such as time delays, costs, redundant paperwork and human error that can slow down a shipment. At a glance, blockchain would allow a shipper to track the entire trajectory of a container or package, while it also keep track of vital information such as temperature deviation and shock.
In a recent survey by Xeneta, 72 percent of supply chain professions said that blockchain will eventually be applied to logistics to regulate and simplify administrative work. But here are a few uses that are taking place in logistics right now that are already making a difference to the bottom line:
1. Verified gross mass
A U.K.-based freight forwarder called Marine Transport International (MTI) was one of the first logistics companies to deploy blockchain as a way to track the movement of shipping containers. While this is strictly a maritime use, the same principle can be applied to ULDs in the air cargo world as well. Since last year, MTI has been using the TrustMe public blockchain technology, along with predictive analytics tools from Black Swan Data Limited, to record the verified gross mass (VGM) of each container. “Instead of a VGM message being delivered sequentially to parties within the supply chain, our platform can provide a decentralized approach to delivering VGM messages,” said Jody Cleworth, CEO of MTI. “The sheer volume of containers processed per year means that safely decentralizing the management of these containers will radically reduce the complexities of shipping. A grass roots approach in collecting and storing information on the Blockchain is how shippers will be able to reap the full benefits of the technology.”
2. Trade finance
During IATA’s last World Cargo Symposium in Abu Dhabi, a Zurich-based startup called Gatechain was one of the runners-up in the Air Cargo Innovation Awards program. Gatechain uses blockchain technology for trade finance, allowing for the reduction of processing time and the lowering of costs while improving cash-flow in trade, the company said.
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