Panalpina joins blockchain alliance as it looks to implement the technology

22 / 05 / 2018

Freight forwarder Panalpina has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) as it looks to play a role in deploying the technology in logistics.

BiTA is a forum of leading tech and transportation companies for the development and implementation of blockchain standards. Members aim to educate the market on blockchain applications and encourage their use through implementation.

Blockchain creates a digital record of every transaction made in a decentralised and secure way using cryptography.

BiTA standards will address how the technology will impact contracts, freight payments, asset maintenance and ownership history, chain of custody of freight, and other issues facing the industry.

Panaplina said that blockchain use in freight forwarding and logistics is still in the early adoption phase, but it is already being approached by vendors, partners and customers about it.

Panalpina chief information officer Ralf Morawietz said: “It is likely that many blockchain clusters will emerge, for example centered around ports and customs authorities, carrier groupings, as well as third-party logistics providers and regional logistics networks.

“When it comes to using blockchain applications and managing and interacting with all these different clusters, we have chosen a twofold approach that will be coordinated by a new digital innovation unit.”

Luca Graf, Panalpina’s head of digital innovation, added: “On the one hand, we will look at ways to integrate blockchain technology in complex core systems in the long-run.

“Here the focus is clearly on reliability, standardisation and partnerships with bigger, established companies. We will also take part in the wider industry discussion in this context.

“On the other hand, we will run pilots and trials using blockchain, likely together with start-ups. The focus here lies on exploration and specific market and customer needs.”

Panalpina said it sees many advantages of blockchain technology for freight forwarding and logistics operations, for instance better tracking of orders and assets.

“Because of the decentralised nature of a blockchain, no single entity is in control of the tracking process, which will increase transparency in the supply chain and ultimately improve consumer trust,” the forwarder said.

“In the area of perishables, for example, blockchain technology can be used to reliably track products from farms to grocery stores, which allows for very precise and quick reports or recalls.”

Other benefits range from better scalability of operations to optimised capacity monitoring and pricing, fewer errors in payment processing and auditing, improved compliance, easier identification of attempted fraud, theft prevention, ease of building trust and gaining real-time feedback from customers.

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