An industry consortium comprising AB InBev, Accenture, APL, Kuehne + Nagel and a European customs organisation has tested a blockchain solution which could “eliminate the need for printed shipping documents and save the freight and logistics industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually”.
In essence, blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that can be used to record transactions and track assets in a tamper-evident, digital format. It allows multiple stakeholders to confidently and securely share access to the same information.
One of the key benefits of blockchain is that it can cut down on the huge amounts of duplicated documentation generated in a traditional supply chain.
In a statement sent to Post&Parcel today (15 March), Accenture explained: “An international shipment of goods for companies in areas such as the automotive, retail or consumer goods industries typically requires more than 20 different documents, many of which are often paper-based, to enable the goods to move from exporter to importer. Across these documents, up to 70% of the data can be replicated. The document heavy approach limits data quality and real-time visibility to all parties involved in the trade and this can also delay the financial settlement on goods.”
According to Accenture, the new blockchain solution “can speed up the entire flow of transport documents, reduce the requirement for data entry by up to 80%, simplify data amendments across the shipping process, streamline the checks required for cargo and reduce the burden and risk of penalties for customs compliance levied on customers”.
Adriana Diener-Veinott, who leads Accenture’s Freight & Logistics industry practice, commented: “Our trials have proven the viability of a shipping process in which many documents can be replaced by secure and distributed data sharing with clear and defined ownership.
“This gives companies a significant opportunity to save time and money while improving their service to customers.”
The consortium members each typified a particular stakeholder in the shipping process: AB InBev represented a typical exporter; APL contributed its role as a shipping organisation; Kuehne + Nagel provided direction on the requirements for a freight forwarder and a European customs organisation replicated the regulatory requirements that cargo faces.
Accenture provided the technological and consulting expertise on the blockchain technology and developed the technical architecture required to support a blockchain solution.