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To be a successful e-commerce entrepreneur, you need to think differently. The core question you must ask yourself is, “What e-commerce investments do I need to make?” How is your organization spending on technologies?
In the era of social distancing and lockdown, it all comes down to delivery.
The logistics industry is vast and complex. When it comes to delivery, customers are not keen on excuses. They want their orders on time for both online and in-person delivery.
A Statista report details that the most significant share of e-commerce spending was directed toward blockchain technology. Around 55.3% of logistics providers and 38.2% of e-commerce brands have invested in blockchain to save their business.
Here’s how the blockchain supply chain works
Blockchain is emerging as a possible solution to supply chain challenges related to end-to-end visibility, communication, transparency and reliability. Industry professionals see vast potential in blockchain technology to be applied within logistics functions.
Today, most collaboration activities in logistics happen manually or offline, which often leads to mistakes and redundancies. In this changing context, blockchain plays a significant role in facing logistics and supply chain operations challenges.
Some real-life use cases and examples
Tracking products through the blockchain
Manufacturing firms face difficulties in identifying a batch of defective products and tracking original suppliers. Blockchain provides complete traceability over the production of products and where the problem persists so that manufacturers can resolve the issue quickly and precisely.
For example, Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, uses blockchain for traceability in supply chain operations. Using Amazon Managed blockchain technology enables a more precise tracking of raw materials, sub-components, production processes and the final products.
Apart from this, the blockchain supply chain is fast proving its value in nearly all the world’s leading manufacturing companies with connected manufacturing equipment, RFID scanning and advanced tracking solutions.
As a result, most retail companies like Walmart now have end-to-end visibility and insight into where all their products are at any given moment.
In contrast to existing solutions, blockchain could now help store signed satellite imagery of raw materials that claim to be sustainable and used in the manufacturing of ethical products like palm oil and luxury coffee beans.
Nestle used blockchain for tracing the origin of its luxury coffee bean ‘Zoegas’ from Colombia, Brazil, Rwanda and Sweden. All the information regarding coffee origins, types, harvest time, quality of beans and the roasting period can be recorded in a blockchain-enabled system. Both sellers and buyers can access this information through a QR code.
De Beers, the famous diamond brand, uses Tracr, the blockchain platform, for tracing the authenticity of natural diamonds from the mine.
Ford Motor Company also utilizes blockchain to track supplies of cobalt, which is used in the manufacturing of electric car batteries. Utilizing blockchain, the company can ensure that they get an authentic product, maintaining its quality.
UPS, the shipping company, is another example that has joined ‘Blockchain in Trucking Alliance’ (BiTA) for increased transparency and collaboration in supply chain operations.
FedEx, one of the largest shipping companies, utilizes the blockchain standardized ledger to guard its supply chain and track its shipments. They have also joined BiTA to store their data on the blockchain to simplify their supply chain operations.
Relevance of blockchain in supply chain and logistics
Blockchain-based freight tracking system
Many retail companies invest in freight tracking technology, but as the demand for same-day and on-demand delivery increases, companies need to innovate.
When it comes to tracking technology, blockchain technology can contribute to the increased reliability of tracking information. The entire supply chain network could no longer be subject to delays or tampering by using the blockchain-based application. The current blockchain system automatically authenticates and secures data to improve freight operations.
For example, UPS’s shipping delivery service brand has filed a new patent application in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a new, distributed blockchain tracking system for its shipments.
This system is designed to store data from different sources within a distributed network. This data may include information regarding the package’s destination, freight movement and mode of transportation.
The system provides information or data for a particular shipment type or unit and enables tracking of the shipment units separately.
There has been considerable investment in blockchain technology, but UPS shipping is not the only one with blockchain-driven shipment tracking. Retail giant Walmart is utilizing a blockchain-powered system for package delivery. Interestingly, Walmart’s package tracking system not only tracks the shipment on the blockchain but also tracks and traces details of environmental conditions, freight location and more.
Smart contracts application in supply chain
According to the PR Newswire report, the global smart contracts market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 18.1%. It will become $345.4 million by 2026, from $106.7 million in 2019.
Blockchain smart contracts are the most impactful technology to use in the freight industry. Smart contracts can self-execute tasks that are protected through the codes and executed when a particular condition is met.
For example, Trazable is a Spanish food traceability company utilizing smart contracts for product traceability. The company uses a traceability platform to enhance the food safety of its products. By using blockchain, smart contracts could eliminate the need for all of these manual steps.
The way smart contracts automatically update information, cut costs and remove all possibilities for error and tampering is awesome.
As smart contracts are always combined with legal liabilities, the overall costs of supply chain and logistics can be cut down 20% by using technology.
Convergence of blockchain, IoT and AI in supply chain
Blockchain, along with artificial intelligence and the ‘internet of things,’ in the current scenario is helping companies revalidate supply chain operations.
For instance, Blockchain and IoT in the supply chain can track the complete record of a product life cycle. The three technologies work together to create a transparent ledger system that records all the supply chain communications performed in a day.
It provides instant access to all the data, such as when the products were brought, registered and shipped from the warehouse. A complete record of a product journey can be traced from ocean to fork.
Today customers are increasingly interested in how a particular product is made and the manufacturing culture behind it.
By using IoT-enabled barcodes in products, customers can detect the product’s name, manufacturing company, how much it weighed, if it is organic and whether it is free of possible allergens.
Similarly, IoT sensors in delivery trucks and other shipping vehicles can determine the shipment timing, space taken up by a shipment and cost of shipment, transmitting all of this information to the blockchain.
‘Machine intelligence,’ another example of IoT, and blockchain in the supply chain is tackling shipments with temperature deviations. With big data, blockchain and IoT-enabled sensors, SkyCell, a Swiss pharma company, has begun to create air freight containers for refrigerated biopharmaceuticals products that monitor temperature, humidity and location of shipping assets.
Blockchain technology is used to record all documentation related to shipping, custom duty forms and bill of lading throughout the process. There are many ways that blockchain technology, the internet of things and artificial intelligence can combine to bring enormous advantages for shippers.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communicationsor V2V technology is another excellent example of the convergence of blockchain, AI and IoT technologies. It will allow delivery vehicles to follow traffic and route management together, such that all the vehicles speed up or slow down to improve safety and traffic flow.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology will revolutionize the supply chain industry by making vehicles equipped with the technology less dependent upon the human element for effective decision-making. A report shows that the global V2V communication market is expected to grow at $24 billion by 2023.
In addition to this, all the vehicles are wirelessly linked to a physical transportation infrastructure that controls traffic lights, traffic flow and route management. Delays can be reduced as cars are directed to alternative routes to minimize congestion and improve safety.
Therefore, blockchain, IoT and AI together are set to take the supply industry to the next level by making logistics operations more optimized and secure.
Automated fleet tracking and performance management
Fleet tracking is discussed in almost every e-commerce organization. The importance of monitoring isn’t about delivery performance. It’s also related to the performance of a vehicle within a fleet.
There is a 12% increase in the rate of technology adoption for fleet tracking operations. When a company wants to invest in technology, blockchain can help by providing a road map for adopting a ledger system for fleet tracking and performance management. The technology can authenticate information based on the past performance of the vehicle and its maintenance history.
Blockchain technology can store and validate fleet-related information for buyers and sellers without the need of a middlemannd everyone trusts the data being entered into the blockchain distributed ledger system. Because the blockchain is private, all shippers, carriers and brokers’ data will likely be built through smart contracts and agreements.
Consequently, fleet tracking will adopt blockchain-based systems for observing and tracking the fleet, which can be used for real-time tracking purposes. If the records of all vehicles were placed on a secure and immutable ledger, there would be a better and standardized way to determine factors such as vehicle performance, location, pricing and other factors inherent in tracking.
Many organizations are adopting a new consortium called the ‘Blockchain in Transport Alliance’ (BiTA) to solve the trucking and transportation system. It is an effort to make sure that the fleet managers and shippers are aware of the potential of blockchain in the supply chain for strengthening their fleet operations.
FleetComplete has joined the ‘Blockchain in Trucking Alliance’ (BiTA) to gain several benefits of the technology, such as automated vehicle tracking, immediate payment and self-executing accounting systems to create transparency for all parties involved in the fleet operations. Moreover, the blockchain-enabled transactions will bring several fleet management innovations along with the infinite recording of carrier performance history and safety standards.
Many companies are leveraging the benefits of blockchain to maintain a shared, single version of the fleet operations. One unexpected access to this information can cause an array of supply chain disruptions. Blockchain in supply chain operations can speed and secure this process through an immutable data record that everyone can trust.
Rashmi Sharma is a content specialist at Shiprocket, India’s leading e-commerce logistics solution. She has a keen eye on trends and likes to share her thoughts about the upcoming innovations in the tech industry.
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