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Orbcomm joins Blockchain Alliance

As blockchains initiatives multiply across the supply chain, Orbcomm makes a move to bring together IoT technology and the distributed ledger for the freight industry.

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Blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) stand to be successful partners in supply chain applications. Blockchain is being touted as a better way to handle the complicated process of sharing and managing the documentation and contracts involved in shipping, and integrating IoT technology could enable parties to overlay digital documents with relevant real time data on cargo status and condition, including temperature and location, and to automate that process.

WorldCargo News discussed this with IBM when it announced details of the work it is doing with Maersk earlier this year. Aaron Lieb, Program Director of Blockchain Trade Offering Management at IBM, noted that it is actually relatively simple to integrate IoT data capture devices into a block chain. “The API that the device calls to record data simply needs to be modified to store data on the blockchain as opposed to other, more traditional, databases”, he said to WorldCargo News at the time.

There had already been some moves in this direction. In September last year Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), together with other members of a “shipping and logistics blockchain consortium” in Korea carried out a pilot using blockchain to manage all the documentation from booking to cargo delivery for a shipment from Korea to China (Busan to Qingdao). Real time data from the reefer containers on the vessel was integrated with the blockchain.

There is clearly the potential to use blockchain to provide temperature data to show compliance with cold chain contracts and regulatory requirements throughout the chain of custody is on the radar.

Against this background, Orbcomm has announced that it has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for the development of blockchain standards, education and solutions for the freight industry founded in August 2017.

“With ORBCOMM’s complete, integrated transportation solution offering for nearly all asset types visible in a single platform, the company is well positioned to play an integral role in driving the transition to shared distributed ledger technology to support logistics management, asset tracking, transaction processing, and more in the freight industry,” Orbcomm noted. The company will collaborate with the BiTA membership to “determine how to incorporate blockchain technology into the transportation supply chain, improving end-to-end visibility, streamlining manual paper operations, ensuring data integrity and security, enhancing communications, and optimizing efficiency”.

“We believe ORBCOMM will be a key contributor and resource for BiTA given its history as an innovator and leader in delivering transformative technology to the transportation and logistics industry,” said Chris Burruss, President of BiTA. “We look forward to working with ORBCOMM to develop and embrace standards addressing interoperability and compatibility between solutions used across the supply chain.”

“We are pleased to be the first telematics provider to join BiTA, which we see as a great opportunity to drive the development of blockchain solutions that create further efficiency, transparency and security across the transportation supply chain,” said Marc Eisenberg, ORBCOMM’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to providing our customers with the industry’s most complete, integrated transportation solution offering, and leveraging shared ledger technology is an important next step in making the freight business easier, more seamless and secure across multiple platforms and touchpoints.”

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