Nico Wauters




Session: Blockchain use: cases & opportunities for Supply Chains


Give us an overview of your session topic.

I will aim to explain how the maritime and logistics industry will realistically use the emerging technologies of blockchain using the example of my company. T-Mining is an independent Tier 2 technology provider building a trusted community collaboration platform for container logistics by leveraging blockchain technology, enabling:

  • increased operational efficiency driven by more intense collaboration;
  • lowered administrative costs due to reduced paperwork and manual interventions;
  • increased security and reduced risk thanks to blockchain technology.

The blockchain network supports the hosting of the Smart Contract Platform for logistics. This platform contains a library of pre-made smart contracts (i.e. programmed business logic) for the industry, as well as modules for caching, monitoring, and file-management to support the usage of the blockchain network for shipping-related use cases.

Our solution is based on a permissioned blockchain network that uses the Ethereum Virtual Machine with a proof of stake, Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithm. Individual blockchain nodes are hosted by the different partners in the project, which helps to strengthen the network and validate data as it is submitted to the blockchain. The node also serves as a local entry point to the API which allows the partner to make a smooth integration with its own legacy systems.

 Why is it important to discuss your topic?

By nature, maritime, transport & logistics industries are decentralised - with many parties involved in the end-to-end supply chain. To improve the overall efficiency of the supply chain, collaboration between the different parties is key. Given the decentralised nature of blockchain, many different use-cases world wide show great opportunities to improve data-driven collaboration.

It creates value for all parties involved by

  • creating operational efficiencies through enhanced data availability and quality
  • reducing administrative overhead costs thanks to reduced manual effort and paperwork
  • increasing overall safety and security.

As blockchain technologies come to maturity, what has been the single biggest impact on the supply chain?

Blockchain technology allows competitors to collaborate at arms length. This 'co-optition' - as formulated by McK - is a completely new way of collaboration which opens new ways to drive efficiency, lower administrative burden, and provide new standards to safety and security.

Can you forecast how the rise of cryptocurrencies will impact the maritime logistics sector?

Today, the risk of cryptocurrencies is extremely high - especially given the rather limited usability of tokens. In addition, cryptocurrencies are often used as an equity token during an Initial Coin Offering, however the uptake of innovative utility tokens - that are actively used for business transactions - still remains limited. We foresee these utility tokens facilitating new ways of doing business and ultimately creating new business models. 

From IoT and big data to remote monitoring and tracking, name the top technologies that you predict will have a long lasting impact on the sector and tell us why this is so.

Over the past decades, digital technology has a proven tendency to centralise power into a single entity. In a highly competitive environment like the maritime and logistics industry, this has been an inhibiting factor to adopt digitization. By design, blockchain provides a neutral platform, decentralising control over key assets, like identity, rights, documents, etc - therefore, we expect to see more hybrid solutions to come, combining the key benefits offered by different technologies and allowing new business models to be created.

Why do you think events like Intermodal Europe are important for the industry?

In order to facilitate innovation, creating awareness is important - Intermodal achieves this. However, in order to create added value, the focus of event organisers could be on the specific progress made with regards to adoption and implementation of new technologies. These events also allow to demonstrate how innovation is delivered - by illustrating different use-cases and how they are set up. The focus should be on analysing key success and failure stories and articulating the lessons learned from the different innovation initiatives.