Driving To Deliver Your Business


Blockchain on the High Seas and the Future of Trillion Dollar Shipping

The prize is a revolution[1] in world trade on a scale not seen since the move to standard containers in the 1960s. But the undertaking is as big as the potential upheaval it will cause. To make it work, dozens of shipping lines and thousands of related businesses around the world will have to work out a protocol that can integrate all the new systems onto one vast platform.

According to the World Economic Forum, improving communications and border administration using blockchain could generate an additional £1trn in global trade. Matt Levine In early May of 2018, the CEO of FedEx referred to blockchain as the “next frontier” for global supply chains.

To ensure its competitive advantage and reputation, as well as live up to its famous slogan “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight”, FedEx created a sophisticated IT infrastructure and distribution network that ensured timely delivery across the world and minimised lost or damaged packages. These days, other competitors have entered the express courier trade, such as UPS and DHL, which are competing directly with FedEx. To safeguard their competitive advantage, each courier company created their own sophisticated distribution network and IT platform only available to cargo brokers, freight agents and distribution centres strategically located across the world.

The same applies to shipping and maritime trade. Each shipping giant, or shipping line alliance, has created their own ,,silos” of freight and payments transaction data that is only accessible to anyone with permission to access those silos and private data networks. Regretfully, the same is happening now with the advent of public blockchain and private/permissioned DLT such as the recent collaboration between Maersk and IBM.

Both will, in all likelihood, only allow competitors to access their permissioned DLT networks if there is something to be gained. Open public blockchain will be the only way forward for the entire shipping and logistics world just as the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) made mobile phone calling possible in 212 countries (and territories), serving more than 5bn people, comprising more than 80% of the mobile market across the globe. Reducing or even eliminating the paper trail in global trade would result in massive savings and lowered costs as well as shortened transport times between manufacturer and consumer, by avoiding costly time delays at borders, ports and terminals.

Blockchain startups like BitNautic are taking this concept even further into other areas of the shipping and maritime industry such as logistics, e-commerce, ships supply, ship broking and cargo consolidation.

Cargo Commoditisation

The biggest change came in the 1960s, when the industry adopted the standard-size steel boxes in use today, replacing the wooden crates, chests and sacks that stevedores had hauled on the docks for centuries. The advent of global trade using box containers with standard sizes has been a game-changer in the shipping and logistics industry. It shortened transport times, reduced costs and increased efficiency all across the supply chain, as goods could be packed into containers at the factory or warehouse, and unpacked the same way at the receiving end thus avoid manual handling of loading and unloading goods or bulk cargo on board ships.

Blockchain will bring about the same revolution as containerisation, this time at the administrative level. All concerned parties to a trade will be able to exchange information and documents on blockchain networks, at a fraction of the time and cost when compared to current systems. “Blockchain in Transport Alliance” has been established with the aim to set standards for the application of blockchain in the maritime and shipping industry.

Many key players and major companies in shipping and logistics have joined, with the goal to explore and implement blockchain in supply-chain and cargo transport. Shipping and cargo standardisation is key for global trade efficiency since goods travel through customs, brokers, intermediaries, buyers and sellers. Shipping containers – some even fitted with tracking devices – are already being accounted for on permissioned DLT protocols, because it is relatively simple to account for a small box in a standard size (mostly TEU 40ft), that can be transported by train, truck or ship, and stored in a factory, warehouse or shipping container terminal.

Bulk cargoes are not necessarily difficult to track with the prevailing legacy systems, document exchanges and satellite tracking, however, the quantities transported can be tampered with, and this is one of the biggest scourges in bulk cargo transport and maritime transportation in general. It concerns ships departing loading ports with full cargo and arriving at the destination with missing or damaged cargo. Blockchain will not be able to resolve such issues as piracy, but it can ameliorate cargo traceability.

It will even improve the dynamics of global trade supply and demand, as “goods on-the-road” will be accounted for in an up-to-date and transparent way by removing the element of unaccounted cargo.

Blockchain and the commoditisation of cargo transportation should be a game-changer in global trade, as well as in shipping, maritime and the entire supply-chain world of logistics.


  1. ^ The prize is a revolution (www.bloomberg.com)

A Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage Sectors

What is Happening Along the Links of the Global Supply Chain UK – We start the week’s journey through some of the stories from freight and logistics which didn’t quite make the headlines with a reaction from the Road Haulage Association (RHA[1]) to the announcement from Leeds City Council[2] that, after a recent public consultation[3], as from January 2020, any pre-Euro VI lorries entering the city’s Clean Air Zone will be liable to a toll of GBP50.

This represents a reduction from the original proposal of GBP100 per truck with the Council seeking help from the government’s Clean Air Fund[4]. Whilst accepting the need for clean air the RHA says it is ‘outraged’ by the plan with chief executive, Richard Burnett, calling for an intelligent, phased approach to support local business, saying: “These plans will be disastrous for the many operators who are unable to absorb or recover the costs of entering the zone.

This is an industry that has to make every penny count. GBP50 per day equates to an additional annual cost of GBP13,000 which will inevitably place many operators in an untenable situation. “Road hauliers play a key role in delivering and maintaining the Leeds economy.

The City Council should support them with measures which give them time to upgrade their trucks so they can keep delivering the goods the city relies on. These charges will make vehicle replacement almost impossible.” Since drafting this item the RHA has taken a similar line regarding the proposed Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Glasgow which will see pre-Euro VI lorries banned from the city centre by the end of 2022.

The RHA says such cut-off date will be ‘disastrous’ and has called for more clarity of what is proposed saying the timescale is ‘completely unrealistic’. UK – The problems experienced[5] at the Port of Felixstowe[6] last week after the new port management system software was introduced, have largely subsided. Certainly the long queues and extreme waiting times have disappeared but our contacts within the port report that some drivers are still experiencing lengthy delays and extra time should be allowed, with customers informed of potential problems.

Reaction to the delays however included container line Hamburg Sud switching ports on some services to Southampton, reportedly for a five week stint whilst the situation is resolved. Some vessels were forced to discharge then leave without reloading in order to stay on schedule, doubtless adding to the problems for shippers. Similar actions to depart without reloading were announced by Seago a feeder line, and like Hamburg Sud a Maersk subsidiary.

UK – Most companies selling, importing or manufacturing goods find at some stage the need to promote them at trade shows and the like. So how does one go about it when one has little or no experience? This was the question which prompted Berkshire-based Walker Logistics[7] to investigate extending its services into the events field, supporting its clients that take part in trade shows and other temporary promotional events with a new bespoke point-of-sale fulfilment service.

Sales Director William Walker, explains: “Throughout the year a number of our clients take stands at events such as the Hampton Court Flower show and other high profile sports and music festivals and sell their products directly to the public. We can help them by not only picking, packing and delivering the stock that they need for a temporary sales outlet, but also by providing, for example, assistance with building the stand, general set-up and on-demand replenishment if they want us to.

“Of course, at the end of an event we’ll take any unsold goods back in to stock, break down the stand and dispose of any rubbish in any environmentally-friendly way. There are many ways in which logistics service providers can create extra value for a client and we see this as one of them. There is no such thing as a ‘normal contract’ any more.

You simply have to offer more than simple warehousing and distribution if you want to have an edge in this business.” UK – Nestle[8], the world’s largest food and drink company, and XPO Logistics[9], are co-creating a 638,000 square foot distribution centre at the new SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park[10] in Leicestershire, UK. The facility, a digital warehouse of the future, will be occupied predominantly by Nestle for its consumer packaged goods and will function as a test bed environment for XPO technology prototypes prior to global release.

The custom-designed distribution centre, scheduled to complete in 2020, will feature advanced sorting systems and robotics alongside state-of-the-art automation co-developed with Swisslog Logistics Automation[11]. The site’s digital ecosystem will integrate predictive data and intelligent machines with the intention of giving consumers faster, more efficient access to Nestle products. UK – PIE[12], which produces mapping aids for the disabled, motorcyclists and truckers, has released an app to guide lorry drivers around London, ensuring they do not transgress the new wave of parking and navigational restrictions.

PIE says the LLRA app is the only HGV route planning & navigation service compliant with the strict requirements of the London Lorry Control Scheme. The app can be used as evidence to London Councils’ Lorry Control proving a route was authorised prior to the journey. The routing calculations consider a number of factors including vehicle dimensions, London Lorry Control Scheme etc. with integrated turn by turn instructions.

Details can be found here[13]. UK – Contact Attachments[14], which designs and manufactures an extensive range of forklift attachments from its base in Mid Wales, is helping customers to handle long and/or awkward loads through providing additional reach to their existing equipment with a range of jibs to fit fork lifts, telehandlers and loaders. The jibs also support users in effectively lifting loads which are unable to be palletised.

Dave Manuel, Technical Sales Director at Contact Attachments, explained: “Our range of jibs includes fixed length, raised-height and articulating jibs, as well as telescopic jibs for even greater height. Each of our jibs can be supplied as either fork-mounted or carriage-mounted, depending on the precise handling requirements.

In addition to our standard range, we can also custom-design jibs to a customer’s precise specification if required, and recently produced a 12 metre long jib designed to handle 10,000kgs for use within a marine environment. “Ensuring optimum handling safety is always paramount, and using our special jib rating chart, we’re able to rate each of our jibs in line with the capacity of the forklift being used – ensuring a precise match each and every time, and offering peace of mind to the operator that they’ll never overload their equipment. All the jibs in our range have been fully tested and adhere to the strictest health and safety guidelines, as well as ISO 9001 quality procedures.”

US – Crowley Maritime Corporation[15] recently received a Humanitarian Award from Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI[16]) for its relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The award, which was accepted on the behalf of the company’s Puerto Rico employees by Tom Crowley, chairman and CEO, and Jose Nazario, director of finance in San Juan, was presented during the 41st annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner, which is attended by over 700 members from the shipping industry and associated companies. In the aftermath of the September storm, Crowley’s liner services and logistics teams, working with government and commercial customers, played an integral role in the recovery.

The company’s more than 300 union and administrative employees resumed services and reopened company facilities, including a warehouse and the Isla Grande terminal, just two days after the storm passed, and began discharging government and commercial cargo from vessels to support relief efforts on the island within hours of the US Coast Guard reopening the harbour in San Juan. ITALY – Freight forwarder Bollore Logistics[17], which has six facilities across the country, has been awarded TAPA FSR A certification for its Milan-Pantigliate logistics platform. The Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) FSR Level A is awarded to sites with the highest degree of security requirements in storage services.

The site, which specialises in fashion and luxury sectors, has therefore satisfied the requirements and now meets all the conditions of protection of goods against acts of theft and crime related to freight. To achieve the standard required a security cage was constructed within the warehouse and a guard post now provides access control. Identification passes with nominated individual access rights are also supported by enhanced video protection and anti-intrusion technology.

WORLDWIDE – The dangers posed by the seemingly inevitable spread of plastics around the globe and putting life itself at risk are finally becoming more widely acknowledged and have been highlighted throughout the press[18] of late. Whilst inevitably a marketing tool for its ‘sustainable swimwear’, SLO Active[19] has recently published a comprehensive review[20] of the horrendous impact of the insidious spread of plastics throughout our oceans, outlined what we might consider doing about it and provided a variety of sources and links which will help those committed to changing the way we shape the future. SPAIN – Following on from last week’s demonstrations[21] across Europe and at the XPO Logistics[22] European AGM in France, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has issued a report supporting its previous allegations of gender bias at the company’s Alovera II warehouse, Guadalajara, Spain which handles goods for distribution on behalf of ecommerce giant Amazon.

The report can be seen in full here[23] and is based on a variety of sources, principally evidence from the trade union representing the majority of XPO Logistics workers at the facility, the Federacion de Servicios para la Movilidad y el Consumo (FeSMC) of the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT). The company conducts the majority of its European operations through its subsidiary, XPO Logistics Europe SA, in which it holds an 86.25% controlling interest. YEMEN – Latest reports we have from the country indicate that, despite local forces backed by the Saudi led coalition taking Hodeidah airport en route to the city’s port, this vital maritime artery for food and supplies entering the country still remains open for business and under the control of opposing forces.

Despite the Houthi backed opposition coming under attack at the port, reportedly by land, sea and air in the ‘Battle of Al Hudaydah[24]‘ , they have stated they are confident they will maintain control of facilities which handle 70+% of the country’s vital imports. Lisa Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen said this week there is no other option to maintain the flow of essential aid entering Yemen saying ‘everything depends on that port’. Three years of war have put upward of 3 million people at risk of starvation if the food supplies dry up for only a few days.

Photo: Hodeidah receives the bulk of the country’s food stocks.

A Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage SectorsA Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage Sectors


  1. ^ RHA (www.rha.uk.net)
  2. ^ Leeds City Council (www.leeds.gov.uk)
  3. ^ recent public consultation (www.leeds.gov.uk)
  4. ^ Clean Air Fund (www.gov.uk)
  5. ^ problems experienced (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  6. ^ Port of Felixstowe (www.portoffelixstowe.co.uk)
  7. ^ Walker Logistics (www.walkerlogistics.com)
  8. ^ Nestle (www.nestle.co.uk)
  9. ^ XPO Logistics (www.xpo.com)
  10. ^ SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park (slp-emg.com)
  11. ^ Swisslog Logistics Automation (www.swisslog.com)
  12. ^ PIE (www.thepieguide.com)
  13. ^ can be found here (www.londonlorryrouteapprover.com)
  14. ^ Contact Attachments (www.forklift-attachments.co.uk)
  15. ^ Crowley Maritime Corporation (www.crowley.com)
  16. ^ SCI (seamenschurch.org)
  17. ^ Bollore Logistics (www.bollore-logistics.com)
  18. ^ throughout the press (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  19. ^ SLO Active (sloactive.com)
  20. ^ comprehensive review (sloactive.com)
  21. ^ last week’s demonstrations (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  22. ^ XPO Logistics (www.xpo.com)
  23. ^ seen in full here (www.itfglobal.org)
  24. ^ Battle of Al Hudaydah (en.wikipedia.org)

IAG Cargo seeks application globally for Hangar 51 innovation programme

Start-ups invited to join the industry-leading accelerator programme

June 21, 2018: IAG Cargo is currently seeking application for the International Airlines Group (IAG) Hangar 51 global innovation programme, in collaboration with British Airways and Avios. The initiative invites start-ups of all sizes and growth stages from around the world to join the industry-leading accelerator programme to transform the aviation industry.

The Hangar 51 global innovation programme goes beyond a traditional accelerator and offers disruptive companies ten weeks of co-working alongside IAG. IAG Cargo is seeking applicants with ideas or products to optimise cargo operations – this could include future cargo logistics such as shipping analytics, asset tracking, measurement and monitoring tools, smarter operations, such as big data analytics or robotic processes, and new products or wildcard disruptive ideas that have the potential to reshape the industry.

Lynne Embleton, CEO, IAG Cargo said, “There is huge scope for digital to enhance and transform the airfreight industry.

Through Hangar 51, IAG Cargo is excited to offer start-ups a chance to embed themselves in our business, to test and develop their products and has the opportunity to grow on a global scale.

We are looking forward to working alongside the next generation of logistics and technology companies to unlock opportunities and enhance our customer experience.”

Applicants will receive personalised mentoring and access to a vast network of industry contacts and experts from across the Group.

Successful applicants will also showcase their achievements at a Demo Day before an audience comprised of the Group’s senior management team and investors.

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