Dubai-based ground handler dnata, and a consortium of supply chain firms, has successfully completed a proof-of-concept test for a logistics platform that tracks supply chain transactions using hyper-secure blockchain technology. According to stakeholders in the project, the new system can eliminate redundant data and improve visibility and transparency.

In a joint partnership, dnata, Emirates Innovation Lab, flydubai Cargo and IBM created a system that converted the companies’ conventional, paper-based process of recording the handoff of cargo from each member of the supply chain – from the original purchase order all the way through delivery to the consignee warehouse. As a result, the blockchain test digitalised the supply chain and helped streamline the processes necessary to delivery cargo to its final destination.

“The success of our study to use blockchain technology in our operations means greater security, efficiency and cost savings to our customers,” said Kevin Ennis, vice president of commercial and business development for dnata’s United Arab Emirates cargo operations. “We are on the cusp of revolutionising the way we operate.”

Blockchain technology is a secure, public electronic network, which can be managed autonomously to exchange information and act as a permanent ledger of all transactions. The technology has also been described as “hack-proof” because no single party can modify, delete or edit any one of the digital “blocks” that automatically records each transaction without the consensus from others on the network.

The technology “has great potential to exponentially improve efficiency and transparency of business networks, especially in cargo and logistic flows,” said Neetan Chopra, senior vice president of IT strategic services for the Emirates Group. “However, neither the technology nor the potential is easy to understand or appreciate. Hence it is imperative to carry out such business experiments and trials so that participants can experience the benefits of breakthrough technologies in a live environment.”

Chopra added that the carrier’s Innovation Lab will now work with their stakeholders to “scale out” the use of blockchain technology to “the larger cargo ecosystem.”

“Blockchain technology is able to transform sectors far beyond financial services,” said Mohamed Hassan, vice president of collaborating airline flydubai Cargo. “It improves the way we work together in providing reliable and convenient airfreight as it provides end-to-end services.”

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