Thorsten Sickenberger

Co-leader: Mobility & Transportation


Session: Blockchain & machine learning: new technologies for track-and-trace and ETA


Can you provide an overview of your topic session? Why is this an important topic to discuss?

On the first view, new technologies like Blockchain and Machine Learning are just methods or concepts. However, beyond, these technologies enable new use cases in order to drive business and efficiency. In that sense, we will discuss how Distributed Ledger Technologies and Machine Learning can be used to improve track-and-trace solutions as well as ETA calculations. 

What has been the biggest challenge to your business in 2019?

2019 was a perfect year to create and test first use cases for Machine Learning and DLT. Still, we see that there are barriers in transforming these PoCs into operational products. The main challenge is now to bring those ideas into production and to realize new levels of efficiency in operation.

How has blockchain changed the way you do business?

Most blockchain projects are currently driven PoC development or the creation of minimum value products (MVPs). Since business, process, and technical specification are not clear from the beginning, the way of working together with clients has changed. A new way of working together in design thinking workshops and in an agile project setting has evolved. 

Do you see blockchain as a long-term solution for the container shipping industry? Why?

In the long-term, blockchain technology will provide a new data and communication layer that enables data transparency and full traceability with no intermediary. Since such solutions will reduce transaction costs, support the automation of processes, and speed-up communication, distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain have the potential to replace established solutions within the container shipping industry.

Can you predict any major changes to the supply chain caused by the mass implementation of blockchain technologies?

We expect a new customer-centric supply chain: in the future, end customers will monitor the supply chain in real-time, having high expectations on up-to-date ETA calculations and flow of digital documents. This requires high quality on data, availability of data, and intelligent micro-services. Here, utilizing Blockchain together with IoT and artificial intelligence can play a major role.

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

Nothing beats personal meetings and discussions. Digitalization is rapidly changing the way the logistics industry works. These days it is all about keeping pace with innovative technologies and software. In that sense, nothing beats a conference where industry leaders come together to discuss new ideas and learn about future technologies.