Blockchain in Logistics
The logistics industry is a lucrative industry along with being an essential part of the supply chain of several daily life products and raw materials. The industry has become saturated in recent times, and inefficient practices coupled with human errors in shipments and labels have resulted in significant losses for logistics companies. According to an estimate, the global logistics industry loses $50 billion annually.
To make processes in logistics more efficient and organized, blockchain is considered as a revolutionary solution. According to the World Economic Forum, blockchain has the potential to increase supply chain revenues by 15 percent. Blockchain is essentially a public ledger system that can record the movement of each asset dynamically through the supply chain journey. It helps in reducing clerical errors and the need for paperwork, while also allowing business owners to stay on top of deliveries and shipping.
The application of smart contracts on blockchain enables companies to form digital contracts that increase transparency and rids them of lawyers and third-party interventions. Smart contracts also help remove inaccuracies and fraud to make the logistical aspect in the supply chain more secure and efficient. Globally renowned companies such as Amazon, Alibaba, Nestle and Unilever are already applying blockchain in various logistical avenues in their businesses, while also leading further research and development in the technology.
Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) is an initiative created in 2019 to provide infrastructure for blockchain development in logistics, and impart education to businesses regarding the technology. The Alliance has memberships from logistics giants like UPS, FedEx, Uber and Project44, that commonly work to define standards and best practices for the industry.
In this article, we will analyze the use cases of blockchain in logistics and the companies that are applying the technology in their logistics applications.
Application of Blockchain in Logistics
Blockchain operates without a central ownership or authority. Compared to conventional logistical practices, blockchain ensures complete overall security of the system so that no third-party can modify information. Chronicled is a company based in California, that develops IoT and AI devices to automate traceability of financial transactions in logistics operations. Their IoT devices provide companies greater insights into the transfer-of-custody process to help move shipment efficiently.
Another company, called ShipChain has built a blockchain-based logistics platform with which all parties involved with a shipment receive updated information regarding its whereabouts and conditions. This helps keep track of each asset in the shipment without worrying about theft or misplacements.
Blockchain helps improve how shipping and freight are managed while tracking the delivery process to provide an overall solution to carry out logistical operations. Using blockchain, goods can be transferred between parties with secure information and financial transactions. Unstandardized processes, massive amounts of paperwork and data silos are taken out of the process, leaving an efficient trading medium.
The logistics industry relies on human intervention to cater to real time changes in shipments and deliveries. It is extremely important to keep track of what changed, who made the changes, and when. Blockchain-based systems fulfil this crucial requirement to the fullest, as everything is recorded on the chain and everyone has a real time version of it. Only the verified owner(s) can make changes to it, which leaves lesser room for disagreements regarding transactions.
Moreover, the whole process is carried out with the use of smart contracts that are reflected in the ledger. The data stored on it contains all the information to track goods, and is impossible to tamper with. Koopman Logistics is a company based in Netherlands that ships cars all over the world. It is the first automotive logistics company to deploy ledger technology and deliver vehicles with a completely paperless process based on the blockchain. Another logistics company called Guardtime has applied blockchain to make maritime logistics more transparent and efficient. The company deploys encrypted contracts and decentralized shipping tracking to protect its data from manipulation and cyber-attacks.
Real-time Asset Tracking and Management
Blockchain based systems are being paired with other avenues of technology, such as Internet of Things and mobile APIs. These conjunction systems provide real time monitoring of assets, inventories and related data throughout the asset lifecycle. Moreover, sensors and trackers are applied to support IoT applications for assets. In this way, delivery times can be shortened, damages and lost products can be tracked, and goods can be supplied with accurate and up-to-date inventories.
A California-based logistics company called Slync uses combined applications of blockchain and artificial intelligence to provide real time insights of all shipments to respective manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. Slync’s blockchain solution allows shippers to automate workflows and anticipate challenges in real time throughout the logistics process.
A retail logistics company based in London called Provenance utilizes blockchain application within the retail industry. Using their solution, retailers are able to document and showcase the supply chain on a ledger. This helps make retailers accountable to produce greater quality and more trustable products.
It can be seen from the analyzed factors that the logistics industry carries significant application opportunity and a need for blockchain intervention. Distribution, shipment and various aspects of the logistics supply chain are difficult to control and sometimes require a significant number of resources to manage. Blockchain-based solutions have the potential to make processes not only efficient and paperless, but also transparent and organized. Companies all over the world are applying blockchain to manage deliveries, track assets, deploy smart contracts and ensure accountability at every level of the logistics supply chain. Furthermore, the integration of blockchain with emerging solutions in IoT, AI and big data can further streamline logistics processes and several established companies and startups are implementing these solutions alike.
Leave a Comment