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Blockchain pilot declared a success

In the wake of the recent malware attack on Maersk Line, Marine Transport International (MTI) is hopeful a successful pilot using blockchain technology to send a VGM record will spark interest in using blockchain across global shipping.

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Marine Transport International (MTI) has announced a successful pilot using blockchain technology to send a VGM record several parties in a supply chain.
The project connected supplier, shipper, load point, customs and terminal on a shared blockchain ledger used to manage a VGM record. “In the pilot, VGM information was captured at a load point by MTI’s SOLAS VGM application, recorded on the dedicated blockchain, and given a unique ID. It was instantly confirmed back to the load point and validated for provenance (tying the data to the geographical location of the weighbridge). Finally, a data message was submitted using the EDIFACT format over SFTP to the shipping portal INTTRA for further relaying to the shipping lines.
“This was achieved instantly. Conducted normally, the whole process would require significant uploading and reformatting of data, often manually, to achieve the same result,” UK-based MTI stated. The results of the pilot have been verified and reported in a white paper by the University of Copenhagen and Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC).
Jody Cleworth, CEO of MTI, said: “The results of this successful pilot demonstrate the strengths of blockchain technology when deployed to link the various actors in the supply chain. We are confident that firms throughout the logistics industry will see a broad spectrum of benefits stemming from blockchain deployment.
“The blockchain has proven to be an excellent way of connecting the different parties involved in any supply chain environment due to the transparency and security-by-design of the technology,” Cleworth added.
MTI is hoping the recent cyber attack that impacted Maersk Line will drive interest in blockchain in the shipping industry. “A blockchain-enabled supply chain is highly resilient to cyber-attack – a copy of the essential shipping data is stored on each node on a decentralised network, meaning that even if one node is compromised, the data is safe nevertheless,” said Cleworth. The company is also focusing on cost savings generated by blockchain, which it envisages “are as high as 90%”.
Karim Jabbar, co-author of the paper, from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen, added: “This pilot demonstrates the great potential for distributed ledger technologies to be used in improving supply chain processes. The Container Streams system is unique in the fact that it does not require the complete replacement of existing systems - instead, MTI’s solution allows complete interoperability with existing legacy infrastructure. The logistics industry as whole can expect better visibility, connectivity and cost savings as a result of distributed ledger adoption.”
Deanna MacDonald, CEO of Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration said: “We have documented the first phase of this use case, its implications for the maritime industry and the resulting development of a turn-key application ecosystem for global supply chain logistics. However, the future potential of this ecosystem platform will rest upon collaboration from the different actors in these supply chains in order to clearly identify the problems and co-create applications that solve for the collective challenges they are facing today.”
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