The logistics industry continues to grow exponentially and the world becomes increasingly globalized. The market size of the logistics industry is projected to reach $12 trillion by 2027. The logistics industry must evaluate whether it’s worth fully embracing blockchain technology.
Global supply chains are highly complex characterized by multiple stakeholders and a host of third parties interacting with each other. The complex transactions make it difficult to update information in real-time and present visibility and transparency challenges within global supply chain management. It can become near impossible to trace errors related to inventory, shipping, or payments in a conventional logistics system.
Blockchain technology will revolutionize and transform the logistics industry. Blockchain’s initial benefits and revolutionary capabilities are quite evident in the financial sector. In logistics, it can be a powerful tool that sets the foundation for new and efficient methods to manage data, business processes, and transactions and increase transparency.
Through blockchain technology, stakeholders in the logistics industry can institute strategies that embody standardized and faster processes, real-time information updates, reduce errors, and save time.
Blockchain will offer a clear impact on the profitability of logistics companies besides solving trust issues, speeding up processes, mitigating risks, and increasing transparency. Data becomes visible to all stakeholders in real-time making it easy to trace each transaction back to its origin without inaccuracies and fraud.
There are companies developing blockchain solutions and exploring new services for the logistics sector. More solutions can only make the logistics industry more successful moving into the future.
Use Cases of Blockchain in Logistics
There are many instances in which blockchain technology can be applied in logistics and supply chains.
1 – Inventory Management and Tracking
Blockchain technology will create a very useful and efficient system for tracking products across all levels. A supply chain has numerous stakeholders across the board including production sites, manufacturing, warehouses, distribution centers, suppliers, and retail partners. All records are stored and accessible to stakeholders within the network.
We are already seeing big players such as Nestle and Unilever employing blockchain in their operations to track food from farm to shelf. Manufacturers can see real-time consumer-level demand and plan accordingly. They can also manage product origins, traceability, and potential recalls.
2 – Improved and Efficient Shipments
Freight companies are leveraging blockchain to track items that are on delivery. Blockchain technology simplifies the logistics process, especially on an international scale. Maersk employs blockchain to gain visibility and control over cargo movement across international borders.
The use of blockchain will save companies billions of dollars by improving delivery times, reducing errors, and detecting instances of fraud.
3 – Secure Billing and Payments
Blockchain has a role in simplifying payments across international borders by guaranteeing security and transparency. Both logistics companies and their clients can complete transactions faster and with smaller commissions.
Visa, the digital payments leader, has the B2B Connect payment service that is based on blockchain technology and smart contracts. The service helps in managing billing and payments.
4 – Authenticity Verification
Both businesses and end users can take advantage of blockchain technology to verify the authenticity of the origins of products. The technology offers a secure and inalterable method of verifying the authenticity of products. Using blockchain creates greater trust and credibility as well as getting rid of counterfeits.
DHL and Accenture have a joint blockchain project, a serialization prototype, to track pharmaceuticals right from the point of origin to the consumer. The pharmaceutical and health industries stand to benefit from high safety standards through the use of a common and secure ledger. All stakeholders in the supply chain including manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors have access to this ledger. High-quality medications are guaranteed to reach the patient at a lower cost. Blockchain offers the necessary security to drastically reduce the attendant risks of counterfeit drugs.
5 – Smart Contracts
Implementing smart contracts using blockchain will automate and streamline supply chain processes effectively improving efficiency and reducing costs. Self-executing contracts can be achieved with the terms of an agreement between buyer and seller written directly into code.
ChainLink is another blockchain project helping businesses with supply chain automation. It’s enabling businesses to automate supply chain processes by facilitating the combining of smart contracts to external data sources and APIs.
6 – Dispute Resolution
The logistics industry experiences the challenge of numerous disputes due to missing cargo. Losses are experienced when independent investigators are used to find the cargo or shippers are forced to replace the lost items.
FedEx is using a blockchain-based ledger to solve the problem of missing cargo and resolve freight claims. The system collects information from the shipping and receiving parties as well as carriers effectively reducing fraud attempts and eliminating third parties. It has helped FedEx secure the chain of custody for all packages and streamline data exchange saving millions of dollars annually in freight claims.
7 – Route and Fleet Management
People and industries heavily rely on global supply chains for the distribution of goods and services. Blockchain will help logistics and transport companies manage their operations, fleets, and routes. It offers transparency and security for both logistics and transport companies therefore reducing and eventually eliminating fraud and other threats. Blockchain makes it easier to schedule order fulfillment, deliveries, and trips and choose their preferred delivery methods.
8 – Food Safety
Using blockchain to track and monitor food and food ingredients. By providing a transparent and traceable record, a food product’s journey through the supply chain can be traced and guarantee its safety and integrity.
IBM Food Trust is a blockchain project for the management of food supply chains. The blockchain platform allows food producers, distributors, and retailers to track the movement of food products across the supply chain. It is increasing transparency and traceability.
9 – Compliance
Blockchain offers a transparent and auditable record of supply chain processes that simplifies compliance with regulatory requirements. Logistics companies need to embrace blockchain to reduce the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.
Benefits of Blockchain for Logistics
- Transparency and traceability – it will make the falsification of records and documentation nearly impossible. Each part of the supply chain can be followed in real-time and very reliably.
- Quality assurance and provenance validation – the origin of goods can be traced back to the specific producer to ensure compliance with standards. Blockchain will identify where non-compliance with standards happens or product damage during transportation.
- Increased efficiency – smart contracts will improve workflow and address the problems of fraud, administrative errors, and unwarranted time consumption.
- Facilitate faster payment processes – blockchain keeps a comprehensive record of communication between involved parties and allows for any action to be traced faster and more accurately. As a result, money transfers can be completed faster, with increased security and without errors.
- Increased data security – blockchain through decentralized data management systems eliminates a centralized point of failure. Hackers find it more challenging to change or steal data from logistics companies since one block cannot be changed by altering the whole chain.
- Save time and resources – logistics companies can cut costs and time by reducing the need to hire additional staff to manage bookkeeping and other admin tasks. Blockchain will help simplify transactions, onboarding new clients, and complete deals.
Blockchain holds great promise for the logistics industry. Blockchain can play a critical role in empowering every stakeholder in the supply chain and offer new avenues for sustainability. It has the potential to change everything from inventory management to transportation tracking to logistics. Using blockchain technology, the entire supply chain can contribute and validate data with the knowledge that the data is not susceptible to tampering.
Author: Alessandro Civati
Blockchain ID: https://lrx.is/mBcL73kMlK