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Germany is a pioneer when it comes to logistics. In order for this to remain like that in the future, logistics must keep pace with digitization. 

The idea – blockchain technology in cargo ship logistics

Until now, cargo ship logistics have been vulnerabe to counterfeiting due to analogue processes and the exchange of bills of lading via email and cloud services. Blockchain technology is now making it counterfeit-proof and digital. In addition to logistics companies, other IT service providers and universities, itemis AG has faced the ongoing challenges of digitization in the field of cargo ship logistics and has worked on a solution for the forgery-proof sending of transport documents along the logistics chain, with blockchain technology as the trust authority.

The HANSEBLOC platform serves as the basic framework for logistics by documenting the transport of all goods in a way that protects identity.

“Sensorchain” concept – make manipulation of sensors more difficult

The “Sensorchain” concept also makes the manipulation of sensors considerably more difficult. In practice, this was previously used, for example, to avoid the expensive cooling of goods. The data from the sensors is secured via the blockchain. Another advantage is that it sets itself up automatically and exchanges the respective data via Bluetooth. In summary, the blockchain is a data source that stands for security and trustworthiness and serves a variety of uses.

Background – The assistance measures “KMU-NetC”

In order to reach new market potential, SMEs face the challenge of increasing their innovative strength. Networks and clusters are particularly suitable for achieving this goal. As part of the “KMU-NetC” funding measure, sophisticated research, development, and innovation networks have emerged with the participation of small and medium-sized companies. “KMU-NetC” is part of the concept “Priority for SMEs – The ten-point program of the BMBF for more innovation in SMEs”. This concept aims to promote more ideas, new applications and new business models. Research results and model solutions are to be disseminated and used among SMEs.

Problems and challenges  – Project HANSEBLOC 

Forgery-proof information transmission is a current challenge in the areas of transport, logistics, and forwarding. Customs documents, bills of lading and transport documents are exchanged in paper form as well as via e-mail and cloud services and freight exchanges. The problem is not the lack of software solutions and interfaces, but the non-uniform standards that lead to non-interoperability. With the help of blockchain technology, the Hansebloc project is trying to solve this problem in the long term. HANSEBLOC is pursuing a new approach for fully automated business relationships. The basis for this is the execution guarantee and the existing systems in the area of ​​forwarding and transport management. These are supplemented by a secure electronic exchange of freight documents. The result is the elimination of data loss and the enabling of automated cross-organizational processes.

Innovation perspectives – Waybill, smart contracts, blockchain, smart oracles

The HANSEBLOC project has set itself the goal of automating logistics chains and making them more transparent by using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT). At the same time, the number of media breaks should be reduced to a minimum. These innovative steps are intended to reduce the susceptibility to manipulation and ensure the trustworthiness of the information. The information arising in the further course of the transport (data about border crossings, transport handovers, modality changes, etc.) is integrated into the data flow via so-called smart oracles as interfaces between the digital and the physical world, also in a secure, trustworthy and manipulation-resistant manner. The contractual logic is stored in smart contracts. The desired solution scenario consists of a combination of the four components – bill of lading, smart contracts, blockchain and smart oracles. In contrast to other projects, this project focuses strongly on local but extensible solutions. These should go into operation not only as a prototype but in full within a reasonable time frame, and thus lead to an advantage for the companies involved in the Hamburg Logistics Initiative.

Our contribution – Generation of executable code for the blockchain

Against this background, itemis AG ensures the end-user-friendly definition of smart contracts using a domain-specific language (DSL). This takes verification and simulation aspects into account and enables the generation of executable code for the blockchain.

Overview of benefits

  • own decision on the strategic direction of HANSEBLOC
  • Simplified customs clearance through digital and tamper-proof documentation of transport data and freight documents
  • Counterfeit-proof transfer of cargo in real time through documentation on the blockchain
  • Automated claims processing is possible through real-time documentation
  • Real-time cold chain monitoring using sensor data stored securely on the blockchain
  • Securing the integrity of transport data using digital fingerprints

A detailed article with all the final reports can be found on the website of the Logistics Initiative Hamburg. Click here for the itemis final report of HANSEBLOC project.