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Digitisation in load carrier management: Blockchain project enters the next stage

11 Dec, 2020 | published at 14:10 CET

The Block4Log project, led by GS1 Germany and in which PAKi Logistics is participating, has now passed important milestones in terms of requirements, processes, technologies and governance and aims to develop and commission the core infrastructure by 2021. The aim of the block chain project team, in which PAKi Logistics is working together with companies from the logistics, retail, technology, consulting and manufacturing sectors, is to develop a block chain-based, market-ready solution with which load carriers can be managed digitally, transparently and efficiently along the entire supply chain throughout Europe. PAKi has been actively involved in the project since the proof of concept phase in 2018.

"We are involved in this project because it is dedicated to the development of the first block chain application for the exchange of load carriers such as Euro pallets and Gitterboxes and we want to actively promote the development of a future standard for load carrier digital exchange. The exchange process is often still very inefficient and non-transparent and involves a high use of resources", says Christian Agasse, CEO of PAKi Logistics. "The pooling of load carriers is very well suited for the application of block chain technology, especially the non-branded one like a europallet in an open pool, because these load carriers can be considered as a currency. The block-chain technology guarantees the correctness of the transactions and simplifies the account management between the parties". For PAKi, the use of a block-chain-based infrastructure, which is accepted throughout the market, opens up the possibility of developing new services and improving existing ones. "Since the exchange of load carriers can take place between unknown participants in the supply chain, a trustworthy third party confirmation is required. If the pallet exchange can be managed more efficiently and transparently using block chain, this would be a quantum leap for all parties involved," says project manager Regina Haas-Hamannt of GS1 Germany. "Blockchain can create added value precisely where transparency in terms of product origin and origin must be ensured". In the long term, the project is pursuing an eco-system for digital supply chain processes, which can also be used for other applications such as pallet tracking or sustainable use cases.

Important milestones in this multilateral project have now been reached: the catalogue of requirements has been adopted, which envisages an orientation towards the European market, an application in open and closed pools and a variety of more than ten load carriers such as euro pallets, mesh boxes and half and quarter pallets. Other requirements include the use of PODs, which are anchored in the block chain and offer additional functionalities for account management and debit notes. In November, the technical concept was defined, which starts from a 'Maximum Distributed Ledger Technology' approach and favours 'Hyperledger Fabric’ as such. “Using 'Hyperledger Fabric’ means that we are re-using an open-source application that allows for quick development, whilst ensuring opportunities for PAKi to add new services for our customers. The blockchain reduces the administrative burden for our customers due to the accurate and secure nature of using this technology” says Fred Kemperman, CIO of PAKi Logistics who is part of the steering committee of the project.

The Governance Working Group has recently presented a business model, which will be agreed in the coming months and which will form the basis for a consortium agreement that will clarify legal and financial issues, including financing or powers and responsibilities. This will be followed by the development and commissioning of the core infrastructure, which will serve as the basis for the market launch of the Block4Log App in 2022. 

Further information about the project can be found at https://www.gs1-germany.de/innovation/blockchain-blog.