PFN member, XELLZ talks Blockchain

On the 29th of June published an article called “Global digitisation drives uptake”.

Since blockchain technology first emerged over a decade ago it has been touted as an unrivaled tool for change but understanding the true potential for the breakbulk sector is a process that will likely take years to unravel.

Typically, discussion of blockchain technology is dominated by the rise of bitcoin and alternative cryptocurrencies in financial markets,  but in reality, some of its most far-reaching consequences may be in sectors far outside of finance.

At its most basic blockchain provides a distributed ledger system allowing different stakeholders in a supply chain to contribute and independently verify transactions. For the logistics industry, this has most commonly been seen as a tool for container traffic, where cargoes are broadly homogenous. However, a growing number of start-ups see the potential for blockchain in breakbulk.

While blockchain was first conceptualized in 2008 it is only in recent years that serious research and development has taken place into the real-world application of this technology. Most notably the last 18 months have seen a rapid acceleration in progress, hastened by the Covid pandemic and a global shift to electronic working.

“Covid has greatly accelerated digitization across the sector and this has been followed by the major announcements, such as the G8 countries aim to introduce legislation in the next 12-18 months. While that might be ambitious we will no doubt see the majority of developed nations moving towards digital systems over the next five to ten years.

For firms like Heavy Lift & Project Freight logistics management firm XELLZ this acceleration has reinforced their existing model. The firm has been exploring the use of blockchain for several years and sees multiple benefits in safety, security, and transparency.

“Of course there has been a change in doing business but we have experienced that this has been pretty smooth,” Petrus Bouwhuis, CEO of XELLZ, tells Breakbulk, adding that “If it comes to Blockchain in project logistics, I do not see much changing in 2021 for the simple reason that Blockchain is not always suitable or required in the project logistics sector. The liner and airliner industry is different as they have to deal with a contract between parties that are not always known to them and whereby they can exchange documents, like B/L’s via a Blockchain driven system.”

Bouwhuis highlights the importance of finding the right application for the technology, noting that XELLZ previously created a test environment within its platform, linking data streams via blockchain, however, the responses they received showed the system/platform actually slowed performance down “significantly”. This was due to too many calculations on the ledger, and Bouwhuis adds “Blockchain is not needed in an environment where parties know each other and where there is already a level of trust. 

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