Blockchain has “exciting potential”, says DHL

DHL and technology consultant Accenture have produced a report regarding the potential of blockchain technology in logistics – including initial findings on a working prototype the companies have developed together, which tracks pharmaceuticals from point of origin to consumer and prevents tampering or errors.
Blockchain maintains, records and authenticates data and transactions, DHL explained. In supply chains, it enables users to track products using a unique identifier. Information is validated in real time – and attempts to alter, erase or otherwise tamper with records are also logged.
“The experiments with blockchain in finance are well known, but we believe logistics is an area where the new technology will have a truly profound impact,” said Matthias Heutger, senior vice president DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.
Keith Turner, chief information officer Chief Development Office at DHL Supply Chain, believes there is “especially exciting potential” for blockchain in pharmaceuticals, hence the work with Accenture on tracking healthcare shipments using a blockchain ledger accessible to all stakeholders, including manufacturers, warehouses, distributors, pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors.
“By utilising the inherent irrefutability within blockchain technologies, we can make great strides in highlighting tampering, reducing the risk of counterfeits and actually saving lives,” he said.
Lab-simulations show how blockchain could handle more than 7bn unique serial numbers and 1,500 transactions per second, DHL said.
The technology could also be used for asset management, to improve transparency and traceability, and to automate commercial processes with ‘smart contracts’, which facilitate and verify the performance of contracts without involving third parties.
“Implementing productive solutions, however, will require further technological development and, critically, collaboration between all stakeholders,” Heutger said.
● The International Data Corporation as quoted in DHL’s report predicts that global spending on blockchain solutions will reach $2.1bn in 2018, more than double the $945m spent in 2017. In 2021 annual spending is expected to reach $9.7bn.

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