We use cookies to make this site simpler. Find out more about cookies

Is Blockchain the key to supply chain visibility?

Industry views | 16 February 2018


By Steven Cleary, Head of Sales, Transport Services

The term ‘Physical Internet’ was first used with reference to logistics in a 2006 issue of the Economist. In that instance, the ‘Physical Internet’ was a global logistics system founded on physical, digital and operational interconnectivity.

One of the many benefits of this Physical Internet would be complete end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Supply chains are evolving to become inter-connected networks of partners. The ability to instantly see all operational asset movements, as well as products, within this network is a huge benefit to both to logistics providers and those using their services.

The key to success of the Physical Internet is the quick and accurate exchange of information between all partners, sometimes even competitors. Without this, the accuracy of information across the entire network could be in doubt and it would also create gaps in visibility. There are many technologies offered as potential ways to support this need for a clear and accurate exchange of information. One of which is at the centre of many boardroom discussions already- Blockchain.

Heralded by some as “the next big thing”, Blockchain is a technology which has been on the periphery for a while but now finds itself centre stage.

Blockchain works as an incorruptible digital ledger. Each partner in the network not only has visibility of assets through this ledger, but also complete confidence in the accuracy of the information recorded. By design, information logged on the Blockchain is encrypted, cannot be tampered with and only accessed authorised participants. It’s a secure and trusted way to record and share information between multiple partners.

One distinct example of how Blockchain technology could be utilised by the supply network is in the production and transportation of food. The Blockchain would provide a secure and unchangeable log for the movement of all ingredients every step of the way from farm to fork. It would be a powerful tool for detailing a complete history and giving consumers confidence in the provenance their purchase.

It is easy then to see why logisticians, businesses and consumers are excited about the potential of Blockchain to support an increase in network visibility, communication and data confidence.

Download chapter 3, and catch up on last week’s chapter, here.

Next week we take a look at one of the industry’s most under-utilised assets- data.