Panalpina lauds blockchain for benefits to supply chain

Swiss freight Panalpina upheld salient benefits of blockchain technology while dismissing it as only a hype. The area of focus was practical benefits to the supply chain. This development was on 11 June.

Panalpina expressed that the initial enthusiasm regarding blockchain might have subsided but there is tangible work to bring it into the mainstream. The freight company clarified that it had narrowed down the use case and launched a pilot to make the supply chain more efficient. Panalpina noted that blockchain could be the next ‘blockbuster’ to take the supply chain to the next level. Panalpina also added on the diversity of applications where blockchain would come handy.

Luca Graf, head of Digital Innovation at Panalpina cited –

“Panalpina is not a blockchain evangelist, but we have a rational and realistic approach towards the technology. Blockchain is only one part of a larger vision that requires the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart contracts to exploit the full potential for end-to-end supply chains, with beneficial effects on costs and time.”

Panalpina while endeavoring to reveal beyond the hype added that blockchain has far fallen short of its potential. The freight company opined that about 90 percent of all supply chain related blockchain projects would remain proof-of-concept pilots into 2020, according to Gartner Research. While noting two blockchain initiatives aimed at the ocean freight industry, The TradeLens and The Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) were worth a mention.

Panalpina further added on the typical use cases and advantages associated with blockchain. The most evident are workflow efficiency, provenance, and authenticity. Panalpina also stated on the importance of insurance and visibility. Panalpina emphasized the workflow which was to digitize trade documents such as the packing list, store these documents in a cloud, and use blockchain to realize process improvements and cost savings.

In May, Panalpina joined the BiTA, Blockchain in Transport Alliance, a forum of leading tech companies for the development of blockchain standards in the freight industry. The many advantages of blockchain technology for freight forwarding and logistics operations, in general, were appreciated, also for specific areas such as perishables in particular.

Panalpina wrapped up on a note to exercise cautious practicality. There were mixed perceptions about blockchain while some being skeptical about its benefits. There were others positively convinced that decentralized technologies would make a difference in the supply chain. Panalpina opined that blockchain would finally win over its doubters in small but concrete steps.