The role of the blockchain in shipping

The technology we use is becoming more and more connected every day, we can connect to our home security through our phones, control our heating from our computers and order pizza halfway across the world if we wished. Shipping is also evolving and moving with the times, granted sometimes at a pace which is much slower than other industries but it is getting there. The newest way that the shipping and logistical sectors are connecting to one another is through a blockchain approach.

The term “blockchain” is thrown around a lot these days, people familiar with cryptocurrency may already be au fait with it but within the shipping and logistic sectors it is fast becoming the new buzzword but is it the future, or is it a fad?

A blockchain is simply a decentralized database that strings together different pieces of information from varying sources. The reason why we believe this system isn’t just a fad is that it basically ties together all aspects of shipping; when you stop and realise just how many different companies, personnel and documents are involved in just a single shipment you can start to understand the need for organisation in such a chaotic chain of events.

If the lines, the ports, the hauliers, the forwarders and customs at destination can all get on the same system it can massively improve clarity and visibility throughout the shipping process, organisations can get real time updates on consignments but the main improvement of this chain is the fact that everything is digitized, this will cut down on massive amounts of paper waste and reduce delays.

A lot of these systems are already in place individually, for example you can submit shipping instructions online, you can most likely send bills of lading and collection / delivery notes directly through your own system etc but the key here is that none of it is connected. It’s this connection within the blockchain that is going to vastly improve the quality of life for everyone within the entire process.

It may be a while before this is all set in place as all points of contact within the process need to get involved but it must happen and it will happen, otherwise our sector will not grow and evolve.