Freight Forwarders

Panalpina joins the Blockchain in Transport Alliance

Panalpina has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) – a forum of leading tech and transportation companies for the development and implementation of blockchain standards in the freight industry.

The company says it sees many advantages of blockchain technology for freight forwarding and logistics operations in general, but also for specific areas such as perishables in particular.

Panalpina says it brings over a century of experience in the freight forwarding business into the development of blockchain technology, which has the potential to disrupt the sector.

Blockchain creates a digital record of every transaction made in a decentralised and secure way using cryptography. BiTA standards will address how the technology will impact contracts, freight payments, asset maintenance and ownership history, chain of custody of freight, and other issues facing the industry.

BiTA president, Chris Burruss said: “Our goal is to bring together leading companies in the freight and technology industries that have a vested interest in the development of blockchain technology. As an asset-light company with a very long history in the freight forwarding and logistics industry, Panalpina’s contribution will be very valuable.”

Blockchain use in freight forwarding and logistics is still in the early adoption phase, but Panalpina is already being approached by vendors, partners and customers inquiring about it.

Panalpina’s chief information officer, Ralf Morawietz said: “It is likely that many blockchain clusters will emerge, for example centered around ports and customs authorities, carrier groupings, as well as third-party logistics providers and regional logistics networks. When it comes to using blockchain applications and managing and interacting with all these different clusters, we have chosen a twofold approach that will be coordinated by a new digital innovation unit.

“On the one hand, we will look at ways to integrate blockchain technology in complex core systems in the long-run. Here the focus is clearly on reliability, standardization and partnerships with bigger, established companies. We will also take part in the wider industry discussion in this context,” added Panalpina’s head of digital innovation, Luca Graf.

“On the other hand, we will run pilots and trials using blockchain, likely together with start-ups. The focus here lies on exploration and specific market and customer needs.”

Panalpina sees many advantages of blockchain technology for freight forwarding and logistics operations. One advantage is the better tracking of orders and assets. Because of the decentralised nature of a blockchain, no single entity is in control of the tracking process, which will increase transparency in the supply chain and ultimately improve consumer trust

In the area of perishables, for example, blockchain technology can be used to reliably track products from farms to grocery stores, which allows for very precise and quick reports or recalls.

Other benefits range from better scalability of operations to optimized capacity monitoring and pricing, fewer errors in payment processing and auditing, improved compliance, easier identification of attempted fraud, theft prevention, ease of building trust and gaining real-time feedback from customers.