Freight Logistics

Environments Where Blockchain Can Thrive

A Blockchain solution can flourish in business scenarios that have a high number of participants that all want to track a particular product or item. And the more complex the tracking process, the more a Blockchain application can thrive.

For example, if a product traverses through a series of steps that starts with its creation and ends with its delivery into the hands of a consumer, then incorporating a Blockchain solution into this process can potentially offer many benefits. For example, it can enhance the overall information security, as well as provide both substantial time and cost savings for all participants in this product’s life cycle.

Blockchain Benefits

To illustrate this further, when a purchase order is received by a manufacturer for a particular item, the product’s life cycle begins. Starting with the purchase order, the product’s manufacturer builds the product then hands it over to a shipper. This shipper then sends the item to a warehouser who then ships it to a wholesaler. This wholesaler then utilizes another shipper to have it sent to a retailer. The retailer then stocks the item until a consumer purchases it. Having a way for all participants in these steps to view where the product originated from, i.e. its provenance, and trace all of its handling can add many benefits, including:

  • Transparency within supply chains
  • Immutable information that can be available to all participants
  • More efficiency in maintaining records
  • Organized data for auditors and regulators
  • Reduced or eliminated administrative record keeping errors
  • Reduced or eliminated processing paperwork

Blockchain for an International Air Services Provider

Recently, an international air services provider, dnata, successfully tested the use of Blockchain technology in its cargo operations. This achievement is a real life example of the aforementioned scenario.

With the help of IBM and other partners, dnata developed a logistics platform with a Blockchain infrastructure. This platform was put into effect to view supply chain transactions, starting with the purchase order of an item and ending at its delivery to a warehouse. This business use-case exemplifies where a Blockchain can thrive: an environment that has a large number of participants wanting to track products through the supply chain.

Blockchain Solution for Asset Management

Another environment where Blockchain can thrive is when a company transfers assets within a business network. When a company internally transfers a physical asset such as a laptop, or in the case of trucking company, a semi trailer, from one location within its business network to another, there can be many people involved and much related paperwork to keep track of its journey. In this case, a Blockchain can establish a clear trail for the asset that has been transferred within this business network. Acting as a shared ledger, the Blockchain can allow internal company parties to view where the company’s assets have been moved to, who it was handled by, its current state, its past state, and how many times it has been transferred and even how many times it has been used – all from the same source, i.e. the shared ledger. And it can be viewed at anytime and by anyone that has permission to do so.

Also within the asset management process, there can be many issues including having transfer information split among many different record-keeping systems, conflicting information on transactional updates, and long wait times to resolve discrepancies. These can add to costs and subtract from efficiency. A properly executed Blockchain can be the sole source of transfer information, and reduce the number of asset discrepancies as well as the time it takes to resolve them.

These examples are only a few of the many beneficial use cases that Blockchain can thrive in. Do you have a scenario that you feel might be well suited for a Blockchain solution? Let’s find out. Please contact me with any questions or comments. I will be happy to discuss.

IBM Security SaaS Leader, IBM

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