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In the world of logistics and supply chains, a great deal of attention in the coming years will be paid to how blockchain technologies can streamline existing processes and drive innovation for business purposes. A large number of companies have signaled interest in getting involved.

A magnet for these companies is the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, an organization that represents around 500 firms that have operations in 25 countries and produce combined revenues of more than $1 trillion.

One of the biggest names in logistics, Maersk, has entered into a joint venture that includes IBM. The goal is to develop TradeLens, a blockchain-centric logistics product, into an open platform for global transactions.

As other companies dive in, blockchain is expected to become the key to innovation across the industry over the coming decade. The value of information stored in public networks using blockchain methods currently stands at $130 billion. That figure is expected to rise and account for 10% of global GDP by 2025.

Craig Fuller, a co-founder of BiTA, stated that issues involving transportation payments sequester about $140 billion each day due to disputes. Settlement of an average invoice is not reached in full for 42 days in a typical transaction.

Blockchain and attached IoT technologies are poised to step into this gap in the supply chain process. With access to a trusted digital ledger developed using blockchain and tracked by IoT sensors, any asset can be transported and delivered to a claimant without trouble establishing ownership. A permanent record can verify transfers and authenticate sourcing.

It's hard to overstate how critical trust is in the logistics world. Compounding the issue is the tendency of firms to maintain secrecy regarding many steps in their supply chains. By putting a private blockchain to work, key information is provided to all involved parties. More importantly, this process can be decentralized and provided with a high level of accuracy. This reduces the necessity of constant regulatory oversight in handling transactions.

Synergy of technologies for a single business purpose is one of viable trends in the modern tech world. A combination of blockchain, IoT, and mobile technologies working in unison can represent a revolution in transportation, delivery and real-time tracking. Collectively thought of as real-time location systems (RTLS), these tools can provide geolocation for everything from vehicles to individual pieces of equipment. RTLS will eventually become a standardized element of many products, meaning they'll include wireless nodes that allow them to send and receive requests for information from readers. The enabling technologies for RTLS—including a wide range of wireless standards like Wi-Fi, RFID, GPS, Bluetooth and ultrawideband—are all in place.

Check this idea, implemented as a demo, in the video below. There, a Raspberry Pi, connected to blockchain, collects GPS data from a GPRS/GSM module and delivers it through a Caddy server to a NodeJS API. Further on, Sawtooth REST API is utilized to update delivery status with new geolocation. Such systems can involve any other IoT devices for a variety of purposes.

With the ever evolving blockchain technologies, logistics firms are gravitating toward them. Quite possibly, their mainstream adoption in the logistics sphere is a question of time.

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Serge Koba has 10 years of software development experience in IoT, Blockchain, Web and Mobile. He actively participates in international conferences and writes about IoT and robotics. Serge works as an IoT/Web Team Lead at MobiDev.

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