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Is blockchain the future of logistics visibility?

Companies are testing technology behind Bitcoin to provide better security, transparency in shipping transactions
Monday, October 16, 2017 - 07:00
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Blockchain, one of the technologies that helps enable Bitcoin and other digital or crypto-currencies, is being embraced by logistics companies as a way to improve efficiency and security in the supply chain.

Big companies like Maersk and IBM already are testing the technology, and a new pilot by Marine Transport International (MTI) may help propel it into the mainstream.

MTI worked with Agility Sciences on testing the Container Streams system in a supply chain environment, and results of the test were verified by the University of Copenhagen and the maritime technology leads at Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC).

Another endorsement of the technology came from IoT/fleet tracking solution provider Fleet Complete, which joined the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA), a consortium for adoption of the solution in the trucking industry. According to the company, blockchain can enable self-executing transactions and improved transparency, immediate payments to drivers upon delivery, self-directing fuel and maintenance payments, automated settlements, and better documentation.

"Joining BiTA was a natural decision for us," says Tony Lourakis, CEO of Fleet Complete. "We are passionate about making complicated business operations simple and easy for our customers through innovative technologies and industry leading customer support. BiTA's goal to facilitate the adoption of blockchain transactions in trucking coincides with our objectives. We believe our customers and partners will benefit from this collaboration, which will bring powerful fleet management innovations."

Blockchain can help automate data flows between supply chain partners. The MTI pilot connected a supplier, shipper, load point, customs, and terminal on a shared blockchain ledger. Container Streams allows interoperability with existing legacy infrastructure, so users don’t have to invest in new solutions or remove existing technology.

“The results of this successful pilot demonstrate the strengths of blockchain technology when deployed to link the various actors in the supply chain,” says Jody Cleworth, CEO of MTI. “We are confident that firms throughout the logistics industry will see a broad spectrum of benefits stemming from blockchain deployment.”

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