- DP World Australia, DB Schenker, Hamburg Sud and Australian wine producer IUS joined together to test new blockchain technology on a global road-and-sea supply chain from Coonawarra in South Australia to the port of Qingdao in north-eastern China, Logistics and Materials Handling reported last week.
- The participants accessed a new Australian blockchain architecture called TBSx3 which provides global supply chain security on a military level.
- KPMG oversaw the trial of the new TBSx3 technology. It also acted as receiver at the 8,100km journey's end by validating the final product and confirming that no duplicate data had ocurred.
The latest blockchain trial shows not only how prevalent pilot projects are becoming worldwide, but also the need for full supply chain participation if such projects are to succeed.
In brief, blockchain technology offers a more direct way of verifying complex processes — like the movement of goods across a supply chain. To date, any export data must be registered in each step's specific format: a carrier may consider it a load, a manufacturer in terms of SKU counts, a customs in terms of shipment number.
However, by making each actor interact in a common network, blockchain technology allows such documents to exist in a network without exchanging data hands. This lack of information exchange further elevates security, by making such data unalterable. However, if a single supply chain actor does not participate — it forces an exchange and nullifies some of these security benefits.
Currently, a wide variety of businesses are embracing blockchain technology. A.P. Moller Maersk and Walmart are engaged in product-tracking projects, like Hamburg Sud and the Australian wine shipper. However, other supply chain uses exist, particularly in procurement, as shown by Foxconn's and SAP's experiments.
There is a large demand for increased supply chain transparency, as this would help companies achieve that long-elusive visibility but also reduce fraud and facilitate audits. Ocean cargo carriers, perhaps looking to improve service, seem to be ready to help companies achieve this goal.