Over the last few months I have been working for VOLT Technology, a company that has developed a P2P same-day delivery system based on blockchain. This week they became the latest company to join the likes of UPS and FedEx in the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), an organisation that is trying “to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry”.
It wasn’t really that long ago that the freight industry was a much less complex beast. Goods were generally bought and distributed more locally so the system in place to deliver them didn’t need to be so complex. Globalisation, mass manufacturing and the rise of technology has drastically changed this and now the global freight industry is both mind boggling in size and level of complexity.
Not only is the daily volume of goods distributed worldwide a nearly unfathomable amount (the US transportation system alone moved a daily average of about 49.3 million tons of freight in 2015) but the supply chain through which these goods move is long, costly and nontransparent to customers like you or me. We don’t really have an idea of the value of the things that we buy.
Blockchain can help to solve a lot of the issues that the freight industry is suffering from right now, and is one of the best examples of how this new technology could be used to overhaul and improve an entire system.
Tracking Cargo — As every block on the chain is unique and available for all to track there will be huge decrease in the trade and movement of illegal goods. With transparency comes accountability.
Tracking Trends — By using blockchain, it will be easier for companies to track trends in the global distribution of not only their own goods but any goods. This data could help goods be distributed more efficiently which would in turn lower costs for everyone.
Cleaner Environment — VOLT are a great example of how blockchain can help to reduce the carbon footprint of the more localized same-day delivery market. The Hub and Spoke model most commonly used for same region next-day delivery has a huge impact on the environment. Using blockchain to connect customers directly with messengers, no hub or unnecessary freight trips are needed, meaning less delivery trucks on the road and less sorting factories needed.
Payment — Blockchains can also be used as the currency for future delivery payments. This is highly beneficial in a global market place as it would standardise costs. P2P payments also have less fees attached to them, so overall freight costs would be cheaper, too.
It’s clear that the freight industry needs to be overhauled to make it more efficient, transparent and cost effective for all of us. From cargo ships to the same-day delivery market VOLT is trying to streamline, change is coming in the form of blockchain, and with orgainizations like BiTA out there, bringing like-minded companies together to work on implementing this new technology properly, it appears that we are in good hands.