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Swiss firm Panalpina launches blockchain supply chain pilot

Wed, 12 Jun 2019, 10:33 am UTC

Swiss logistics company Panalpina has announced that a pilot project in order to demonstrate the benefits of blockchain technology for supply chains.

In an online post dated June 11, the company said that it has identified eight supply chain use cases for blockchain – ocean freight core processes, ocean freight electronic bill of lading (eB/L), captives, perishables, pharmaceuticals, spare parts, insurance, and tracking.

Of these, Panalpina said that it is focusing on ocean freight eB/L for its pilot project. It said that it has commenced two blockchain projects with selected customers – one involving high-tech industrial goods and the other dealing with office supplies.

“The aims are similar: to digitize trade documents such as the packing list and the bill of lading, store these documents in a cloud, and use blockchain to realize process improvements and cost savings in the long run,” Panalpina said.

Both the projects will involve documenting the flow of imported goods from Asia to Europe using blockchain. The blockchain-based system will run parallel to real shipments and not interfere with current processes.

“Running the blockchain projects in parallel to live shipments allows Panalpina and its partners to make in-depth comparisons of current standards and processes, versus what they could be in the near future,” Panalpina added.

In addition, the company has also begun a third blockchain project with an IT multinational company, aimed at optimizing air freight shipments from North to South America.

Cedric Rutishauser, senior venture development manager at the Panalpina Digital Hub, said that these early-stage projects are 85 percent about digitization and 15 percent about blockchain.

“We are starting to see clear benefits in cost savings through simplified and speedier processes, and lower document courier costs,” he said. “But the real advantage of blockchain lies in the ‘single source of truth’. Improved data sharing between trade partners creates more transparency, with clear ownership and responsibility for each documented step in the supply chain.”

In the next phase, Panalpina intends to focus on three other use cases, including pharmaceuticals, spare parts and ocean freight core processes.

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