Blockchain is a decentralized and distributed database. This technology is characterized by an ever-increasing amount of information grouped into blocks and stored chronologically. Although it was created especially for the digital currency Bitcoin, as it turns out in practice, it finds more and more applications in various fields of economy, including logistics. How is blockchain used in logistics? What benefits does it offer? You will read about it in the next part of the article.
What is blockchain technology in logistics?
As it turns out, blockchain technology can be effectively “attached” to the supply chain, making it a structure with strong links. Blockchain, so far associated mainly with the financial sector, also has a lot to offer the logistics industry, automating millions of processes, speeding up orders and deliveries, and increasing the security of financial transactions.
Modern logistics processes are highly complex, which means that they often lack transparency, and in the case of suspicion of illegal or unethical practices, finding the truth is particularly difficult. However, the ways to overcome these barriers are provided by the blockchain.
Using blockchain in the logistics industry, you can be sure that there will be no discrepancies because all entities have the same ledger version. Each user has visibility into the subsequent links in the supply chain through which the good has flowed. Records in blockchain cannot be deleted, which is essential, especially for the transparency of flows.
How does blockchain improve logistics operations?
The implementation of blockchain technology in logistics brings the following benefits in terms of communication between supply chain participants:
- A higher level of security – the discussed technology excludes the possibility of modification or deletion of once stored data.
- Greater transparency – individual information is saved in all network nodes.
- Better performance – data is verified automatically by various devices on the blockchain, so there is no need to wait for third-party authentication.
Blockchain in logistics – use cases
Taking proper care of each realized service is not only about delivering goods from A to B. Transport companies are also responsible for ensuring the appropriate course of the service from the formal side.
Many companies have already decided to use blockchain technology in logistics. An example is UPS, which uses blockchain to track shipments and optimize their delivery route without human intervention. This decreases costs and delivery time.
Another example of blockchain in logistics use cases are companies operating in the wine industry. The sale of counterfeit alcohol is a severe problem and can endanger people’s lives. The use of blockchain technology in alcohol logistics makes it possible to trace the location of the winery that produced the product, as well as verify all participants involved in the sale – including regulators, distributors, and retailers.
Shipchain is another case of using blockchain in the logistics industry. This platform was developed for easy tracking of shipments. In addition, it provides solutions based on smart contracts that can be used to make payments. Through this, time-consuming invoicing and workflow from various links in the supply chain are simplified, the processing time is reduced, and thus accuracy increases.
The combination of blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT), in turn, enables smart logistics contracts. Such a solution works efficiently when digital versions of documents and real-time shipment data are placed in blockchain-based systems.
For example, this scheme is used in Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Singapore ports. It guarantees the security of the processed data and eliminates the problems associated with duplicate expenses while reducing the amount of paperwork at the same time.
Benefits of blockchain in logistics
The main benefits of blockchain in the logistics industry are:
- Transparency and invariability of data – each subsequent event, i.e., block, is related to the previous one, which means that historical data cannot be changed;
- Real-time tracking – as goods move from one supply chain partner to another through different management systems, it is easy to lose liquidity. Using blockchain, chronological ordering of data becomes simple, making the process of goods delivery and order fulfillment transparent;
- Optimization of empty runs – thanks to the use of blockchain in logistics, it is possible to collect information on current and future order volumes accurately. Then it is easier for example to manage drivers’ work, adjust the transport capacity of cars to current needs and take forecasts into account in planning logistics.
What is blockchain technology in logistics? It’s technology that ensures a secure, reliable flow of information, which guarantees the integration of individual chain links into one coherent system.
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