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UK’s Biggest Port Operator to Explore Blockchain Solution

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:42 PM
Mark Emem
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:42 PM

The privately run UK port operator, Associated British Ports (ABP), has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with freight forwarder Marine Transport International to explore a blockchain technology application aimed at improving connectivity at the 21 ports it runs.

The MOU will see ABP try out a blockchain solution developed by MTI, thereby helping ease one of the biggest headaches in the logistics sector – lack of system interoperability. The solution is expected to enhance efficiency as no time will be wasted on manually re-entering data. Currently, the port operator handles a quarter of the seaborne trade in the United Kingdom and this is nearly 100 million tons of cargo annually.

“The logistics industry is awash with proprietary technology that forces users to work in a certain way – with blockchain, we can connect all those systems to ensure data is accurately and quickly shared, helping speed-up and simplify the flow of trade in and out of the UK,” the founder and chief executive officer of MTI, Jody Cleworth, said in a statement.

Successful Trial

This is not MTI’s first blockchain trial though. A year ago the freight forwarder completed a pilot program aimed at automating and digitizing the entire supply chain process from shipper to hauler as well as from port operator to carrier, on a distributed and decentralized ledger as CCN.com reported.

The verification of the results from the successful pilot was conducted by University of Copenhagen’s scientists and BLOC (Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration) tech leads. At the time, Cleworth remarked that blockchain technology had the potential of revolutionizing supply chain businesses by assisting in the generation of cost savings of up to 90%.

Besides Associated British Ports, other port operators in the world that have launched similar blockchain efforts in the recent past include Abu Dhabi Ports, which three months ago launched a blockchain solution that enhances efficiency by enabling real-time tracking of cargo and eliminating paperwork. Last year in September, the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam Authority also unveiled an effort aimed at exploring blockchain technology with an eye on enhancing efficiency as well.

Global Trade Inefficiencies

Inefficiencies in global trade processes are blamed for holding back the expansion of trade volumes as a new World Economic Forum report released earlier this month noted while advocating for blockchain technology:

“Paper-based, manual processes, some created centuries ago, lead to complexity and delays, introduce errors and risks, and stand in the way of reliable, real-time information gathering and tracking required for credible financing decisions.”