Logistics giant UPS has taken a hard look at potential areas of disruption in transportation and logistics. Blockchain offers several facets that could increase the efficiency of logistics, not the least of which are immutability and trustless exchange.
By joining the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance (BiTA), UPS is helping to grow and mature the technologies and standards that the transportation industry will need to implement blockchain-based solutions.
The Smart Logistics Network spans realms of technology far beyond just blockchain, but blockchain is poised to form the backbone of their new customs broker offerings and parcel management systems. Transitioning to the blockchain will enable UPS to remove paper-heavy legacy processes and put highly efficient, paperless solutions into place.
What problems can blockchain solve in logistics and transportation?
Transportation, logistics, courier services, load brokering, and more are all known for having crippling inefficiencies. Due to factors such as cargo theft, inefficiency, and costs of doing business, prices remain high. According to TechCrunch, cargo theft alone can cost consumers up to 20% more on their goods.
Even though hotspots of cargo theft have been known for years, it seems that ownership of the information is too widespread to be useful. Digitizing information and placing it on the blockchain for the BiTA can enable logistics providers to reduce costs by helping to reduce cargo theft.
Having geo-location data about cargo theft can allow drivers to change their route and avoid hot zones altogether. Less stolen cargo can save service providers, as reported by TechCrunch, as much as $190,000 on average, per instance avoided.
Efficiency is one of the most important facets of business. Increased efficiency tends to yield a higher return on investment. Unfortunately, packages must touch the hands of several individuals between being sent and delivered. Blockchain can help reduce turnaround time for packages, decrease employee paperwork loads, and reduce the number of middlemen needed to deliver a parcel.
Less wasted employee time means lower costs per package, improved profit margins, and happier consumers.
Costs of doing business
When business requires the involvement of middlemen, the price of the engagement increases steeply. Financial applications of blockchain have showcased how effective it can be at removing intermediate steps in the asset transfer process.
Logistics and transportation are both forms of asset transfer—between locations and people—blockchain excels at optimizing this realm of business.
How do the other aspects change transportation?
UPS intends to help other industry leaders establish clear sets of standards and guidelines for operating in the new transportation landscape. Items which are likely to be displayed in these guidelines are consumer data management, package handling standards, shipping container requirements, load reliability which can help alleviate the challenges addressed by 300Cubits with their TEU tokens.
When you send a package, you may notice that sending a package the size of a breadbox can easily cost $6 per package. Logistics and transportation are, when combined, worth more than one trillion dollars.
Reducing this cost by even 10% would be a significant change.