[ID] => 9369
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-03-28 09:21:05
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-28 08:21:05
[post_content] => The transport and logistics industry has been talking for years – decades, even – about how best to apply emerging information technology to its operations. Putting RFID chips and tracking devices on mobile assets allows asset owners to know where those assets – and any cargo on them – are located at any given time, and this ‘track and trace’ function is now widely applied across industry verticals and transport modes.
More recently, transport operators have begun buying into the new ‘Industry 4.0’ environment, realising that the availability of huge volumes of data can – if used intelligently – deliver added value through the entire supply chain. That concept, dubbed ‘Logistics 4.0’, was all the rage last year and, in the dangerous goods sector, some of the major logistics firms announced deals with the new breed of telematics providers that were making such systems available.
If Logistics 4.0 was the buzzword for 2017, then this year’s looks like being blockchain. Many people will currently only know blockchain from Bitcoin, the crypto-currency whose viability is based entirely on the blockchain concept. But as Logistics 4.0 systems are being more widely introduced, it is becoming inevitable that blockchain – or some equivalent system – will be needed if the various parties in the supply chain are to reap the rewards that are being promised.
CHAINED TO DATA
One important feature of Industry 4.0 concepts is that each party in the supply chain has real-time access to information relating to any particular shipment, in line with rules that determine which party can have access to which information. For this to happen effectively, there is what can be thought of as a virtual ledger, automatically populated with values generated from the data provided remotely by sensors and telematics units.
If the various parties are to have confidence in the veracity of that ‘distributed ledger’, there needs to be a way to verify that the data has been generated correctly, and that any orders, payments or other externally generated instructions are correct.
This is the function of the blockchain, which consists of unchangeable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks, each block being ‘chained’ to the next by means of a cryptographic signature. This allows block chains to be used like a ledger, which can be shared and accessed by anyone with the appropriate permissions.
In order to develop systems of specific utility to logistics operators, a dedicated group was formed last year. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) intends to develop and embrace a common framework and standards from which industry participants can build their own applications. In addition, BiTA has set itself the goal of establishing a platform for dialogue and a thought-leadership panel that will also educate and promote blockchain technologies in the logistics industry.
BiTA says there are many ways in which blockchain technology will revolutionise the logistics sector, such as:
- Self-executing smart contracts
- Automatic invoice settlement
- Asset maintenance and ownership history
- Development of ‘drop-and-hook’ grey trailer pools
- Transparency and chain of custody.
While these are of interest to the logistics sector as a whole, there are some elements of particular significance for the dangerous goods sector, not least in terms of the verification of custody – to allow shippers and carriers to make sure that a consignment is being carried and handled in accordance with relevant regulations – and the potential for promoting drop-and-hook operations, at least in some applications, to reduce driver waiting times and help ameliorate the effects of the widespread driver shortage.
To get all these benefits out of blockchain-enabled systems, there needs to be a set of agreed standards and this is the main task of BiTA in the near term. A board of directors for the development of standards was established in December 2017 and discussion will take place at its spring meeting in May 2018; the aim is to have standards published before the end of the year.
FROM TELEMATICS TO THE CHAIN
Telematics providers will be a crucial group in terms of the setting and adoption of standards. Orbcomm joined BiTA in March 2018 and, as a global provider of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, sees itself as being well placed to play an integral role in driving the transition to shared distributed ledger technology to support logistics management, asset tracking, transaction processing and other activities in the transport sphere.
“Orbcomm will collaborate with BiTA’s members, including transportation service providers, shippers, OEMs, suppliers, vendors and insurance companies, to determine how to incorporate blockchain technology into the transportation supply chain, improving end-to-end visibility, streamlining manual paper operations, ensuring data integrity and security, enhancing communications, and optimising efficiency,” the company says.
As an illustration of how this will work in practice, Switzerland-based Nexiot, which pioneered the development of smart sensors for non-powered assets in the supply chain, has already launched a blockchain-type distributed ledger as part of its Digital Logistics Platform.
Nexiot says its self-sustaining sensors send messages every five minutes from assets such as rail wagons, shipping containers and boxes, including updates on location, impact events, border crossing, and mileage. Enhanced with blockchain technology, the data, securely held in the new Digital Ledger, includes a date and time stamp, making the information legally binding and adding a valuable layer of accountability to the journey of an asset and its goods.
TRUST THE SYSTEM
“The Distributed Ledger brings transparency, trust and legal compliance to our Management Solution, as the data records are legally binding,” says Daniel MacGregor, director of marketing and sales at Nexiot. “This blockchain technology also opens the door to the introduction of Smart Digital Contracts.
“Our sensors have already established a new level of accuracy for contract stipulations of location and location-based events,” MacGregor adds. “Now with the Distributed Ledger, these can be linked to confirm terms and fulfilment of contracts, and it is possible to digitise contract execution, from automated demurrage and insurance claims, to excess mileage recharges.
“By 2019, it is estimated that 20 per cent of all IoT deployments will have basic levels of blockchain services and this development promises to deliver a long overdue layer of services to enhance quality in logistics,” says MacGregor. “The technology builds trust by preventing manipulation of records of historical events, reduces costs, information silos, overheads, and unnecessary middlemen, and accelerates transaction executions to near real time instead of days and weeks.”
[post_title] => Logistics 4.0: On your blocks
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => logisti
[post_modified] => 2018-03-27 16:27:32
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-27 15:27:32
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=9369
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