Skim any supply chain magazine or website and you can get a quick primer on blockchain, the "distributed ledger" technology that allows business partners to safely share sensitive information, secure in the knowledge that users can change details only with the agreement of all parties involved.
What many professionals don't realize is that blockchain can also streamline logistics processes through the use of "smart contracts," lines of code that are stored on a specific blockchain and automatically execute when certain terms and conditions are met. According to blockchain services vendor IBM Corp., the benefits of smart contracts include enforcing business agreements so that all participants can be certain of the outcome without an intermediary's involvement.
Now, a Florida firm says it has completed its first blockchain-based shipment using smart contracts. Sunrise, Fla.-based logistics technology specialist dexFreight says its software platform enabled a shipper and a carrier on Oct. 15 to directly connect, negotiate rates, and schedule pickup and delivery for a 5,320-pound frozen seafood shipment. The cargo was hauled from Preferred Freezer Services in Medley, Fla., to Manny's Enterprises Inc. in Sunrise.
For the blockchain-based truckload shipment, dexFreight partnered with seafood wholesaler Netuno USA, asset-based motor carrier Arel Trucking Inc., and Bitcoin-based smart contract platform RSK. By agreement of the partners, funds for the transaction were held in escrow by the smart contract while the cargo was in transit, and automatically released to the carrier upon delivery.