The nature of logistics and transportation requires extensive labor and a culture of trust.
A typical freight shipment endures dozens of touch points in the freight’s journey, and data entry or documentation capture is, unfortunately, an after-the-fact process.
In actuality, the priority of those in each touch point is usually the freight, not necessarily the data. Companies who have developed automated technologies to capture and track data still have the problem of data integrity.
Either the data cannot be verified by other supply chain partners, relying solely on what is present, or there is no mechanism to validate the data itself.
As the world of transport continues to increase in complexity, the merging of blockchain and artificial intelligence will be where technologies come together to digitize freight.
Artificial Intelligence and Connected Systems Digitize Freight
Connected systems provide a means of tracking data and shipment details. The information contained within today’s data systems has an inherent problem: it is only as reliable as its source. Using connected systems automates this process, ensuring that data is accurate.
Meanwhile, artificial intelligence combs through data, validating its accuracy and identifying correlations that may indicate threats or opportunities.
Automating the data collection and analysis process will provide significant benefits to businesses. They may identify issues contributing to higher costs, recognize the risks in supply chains and refine planning to speed transport.
However, that does not yet answer the question, “what does this have to do with blockchain?“
The Intersection of Connected AI and Blockchain
Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger, giving all parties access to the same information. The incorruptible resource ensures the validity of data by storing it across multiple nodes.
For example, Blockchain stores entered data in nodes within the servers of multiple companies requiring a system that operates in real-time.
When a user enters a new data block, the individual nodes verify the data within the system reflecting the original data the user entered. As a result, companies can track the train of data blocks, “the blockchain,” from its origin to current status.
In the physical world, automating the collection and integration process lends itself to more trust in the supply chain. In other words, the best way to truly digitize freight lies in digitizing the information and ensuring its accuracy and longevity throughout all transactions and interactions.
How Does Blockchain and AI Affect Different Types of Supply Chains?
The applications of blockchain and artificial intelligence vary by industry, but similarities exist.
For instance, artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms may review internal and external data to identify potential delays in shipping. For cold-transport, preventing delays during transit is essential to ensuring goods do not perish. While the most obvious application is food transport, consider the implications of better planning in pharmaceutical supply chains.
Pharmaceuticals have a big price tag and require intense chain-of-custody documentation. In addition, poor reporting or accuracy of data within the documentation could put patients’ lives at risk. Instead, artificial intelligence effectively lowers this risk by giving carriers access to more information to ensure a speedy transit time.
Furthermore, blockchain-based pharmaceutical transport systems track the chain of custody and prevent anyone from altering should an adverse event occur. The use of blockchain-based contracts may also streamline payment processing of high-cost medications, medical equipment and more.
Even tracking the prescription via blockchain could reduce the damage from illegitimate prescribing practices, prevent forgeries, track inventory and reduce the burden on the health industry.
In retail, applications of blockchain and artificial intelligence can be married to provide more significant insights into consumer shopping behaviors, track returns management processes, prevent fraudulent returns, speed payment processing and reduce transactional inconsistencies.
These processes continue uninhibited and provide an incorruptible resource for use in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to better plan and digitize freight and supply chain management.
Does Blockchain Require Artificial Intelligence to Succeed?
No, blockchain does not depend upon artificial intelligence or analytics to work successfully. However, blockchain by itself is simply a ledger that provides a common source of shared information that cannot be altered.
Think of blockchain as the backbone of your record keeping processes. It tracks data, but what you do with that data remains in your control. The power of artificial intelligence, big data, and other technologies to automate data collection and entry and execute functions within blockchain-based systems is too high to ignore.
Where Do I See the Future of Digitized Freight?
The future is automation and better data management. Blockchain is the solution the industry needs to effectively share information for complete supply chain visibility, avoid the pitfalls of fraud, reduce risk, and achieve better supply chain management.
Blockchain is a relatively new technology, and most companies already have some form of data automation in place.
Why not take advantage of automation and connect systems to a blockchain-based platform?
John Monarch is the CEO of Shipchain and is a blockchain expert.
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