Logistics Company Partners With Blockchain-Based ‘ShipChain’ To Bring Cutting-Edge Tech to Supply Chain
In the technology space, many companies (and their competitors) call themselves “blockchain solutions.” But, there’s one issue with the majority of these associations — the word “Blockchain” has simply been inserted for marketing purposes and nothing more. More often than not, companies are not implementing “true” blockchain technology, because these systems themselves aren’t completely decentralized.
Adding Visibility to the Supply Chain
One of the biggest advantages that blockchain technology can and has already begin to bring to the world is the added visibility to the supply chain.
Shipchain, the blockchain-based end-to-end logistics startup announced the integration of its platform with Scandinavian logistics company, Scanlog, to help with the track-and-trace of Scanlog’s freight moving across the company’s logistics network.
With this integration, Shipchain is able to help monitor Scanlog’s trucks — from the pickup point to the destination, all with the assistance of smart contract technology.
I spoke with ShipChain’s CEO, John Monarch about the recent announcement and how this helps benefit the supply chain space as a whole.
Andrew Rossow: In your opinion, why do you feel that ‘track-and-trace’ is necessary?
John Monarch: It’s monumental to adding visibility to the supply chain. As the industry currently stands, a shipment must pass through several different hands before it reaches the end consumer.
AR: For someone who may not be familiar with this process, can you walk us through it?
JM: It typically starts its journey in a manufacturing facility, is then transported to the port via truck, travels overseas on a shipping vessel, and then again by truck until it is reaches its final destination.
The package is passing through so many different facilities and processes that it can be hard to keep track of its whereabouts.
AR: So, what’s the issue?
JM: The lack of transparency becomes an issue as goods are stolen or unaccounted for every single day. Without the added visibility that the Blockchain brings, it is extremely difficult to place accountability when things do go wrong.
According to Monarch, every year, billions of dollars worth of goods disappear without a trace and are completely unaccounted for. “Track and trace allows you to pinpoint exactly where they go missing in the supply chain, who was handling them most recently, and when they were last accounted for,” Monarch emphasized.
While minimizing chances for fraud and theft, it also “boosts overall efficiency because less time is spent trying to locate shipments.”
Tackling The Supply Chain From End-End
With companies like Walmart and HP utilizing the Blockchain to help improve track-and-trace procedures, specifically pertaining to food traceability, the question becomes how other contenders are able to stand on equal ground.
“We are taking a holistic approach to solving the most pressing issues in shipping and logistics and doing so without asking you to hand your data over to us,” Monarch told me.
“There are other companies, in the space using blockchain, but only ShipChain is working on the entire supply chain from end-to-end.”
The company told me that we are currently at a crossroads between technology of today and one of the oldest trades in the world — moving items. One one hand, Shipchain competes with classic solutions — from paper trails to supply chain control towers, but on the other, they have blockchain solutions that promise to do away with the “old way” of doing things and revolutionize the world.
AR: What have you observed from your competition or others in the industry when it comes to this technology?
JM: The emergence of private blockchains. Unlike us, many of our competitors who claim to be “blockchain solutions” are not truly implementing blockchain technology.
What I mean by that is there is a large number of “private blockchains.” As you know, private blockchains are not decentralized — someone or some entity owns them. In many ways, it is very similar to a cloud-based solution. By joining a private blockchain, you are essentially giving your data to the owners of the said blockchain. Since they now own that data, they can tamper with it.
We believe that to truly reap the benefits of the Blockchain, you must join a public chain like the one ShipChain is building upon.
AR: Why do “public blockchains” provide more flexibility than that of “private blockchains?”
JM: Private chains will only further fragment the industry because they may not have the ability to interact or communicate with other Blockchains. This limits the ability of all companies to use the same platform, essentially defeating the core mission of blockchain technology to streamline and make things more effective and transparent.
Public blockchains, on the other hand, are decentralized. They have no owner and they are extremely difficult to hack or tamper with. In truth, putting your data on a public blockchain means increased security through distributed consensus and validation. As the industry slowly transitions to a public blockchain, players will be able to rely on the technology itself for security, thereby increasing trust.
ShipChain will install its GPS-enabled cellular devices, known as Axle Gateways, into the main cab of multiple Scanlog-associated participant trucks in the coming months.
Axle Gateway is a device that drivers can attach to various jobs through the ShipChain Portal. The device allows shipments that are being carried out in real-time to be automatically synced with the tracking data and Ethereum blockchain.
“It will post encrypted GPS-data to the Scanlog on-site storage location and will generate a unique signature of data that will be posted to the Blockchain,” Monarch pointed out.
The company then grants Scanlog access to the ShipChain Mobile app that in turn allows Scanlog to attach photos and other relevant information to specific shipments along the way.
“Our primary objective here is to increase visibility in Scanlog’s supply chain, thereby bringing peace of the mind to the company and its clients.”
Shipchain ended our conversation by stating that this partnership can help benefit other areas across the supply chain starting with pharmaceuticals and continuing on to food, agriculture, and farming.
“Any issues with drugs or medical devices can have disastrous implications for patients and their families, so visibility in this space is extremely critical. The Blockchain helps to ensure that all pharmaceuticals are legitimate and maintained at the right temperature and under the right storage conditions.”