Block Array – Logistics tracking and business data on the blockchain.

blockarray block array
Blockarray is a Chatanooga, TN based firm seeking to develop data protocols, IT infrastructure and smart contracts to improve item tracking and product information through the supply chain to the end user. A more narrow example of a problem they seek to solve is that barcodes (GS1 standard codes) do not provide much information apart from the firm that produced the item, and its ID. The solution to this is to create a data protocol and infrastructure that allows business-to-business communication by the use of barcodes. This product would be a semi-centralised barcode system that offers the standard GS1 barcodes used by over two million businesses globally, and a unique anti-counterfeit barcode. Furthermore, the barcode and blockchain system can be used to track the product through the supply chain to ensure accountability to suppliers and shippers and provide live tracking and information with the IoT.

To pull this all together, we can condense this down into a few key goals. Blockarray will enable GS1 industry standard barcodes to point to URLs or URIs to make obtaining information easier. The protocol will also anchor the barcode generation to the blockchain and associate it with an Ethereum (or other platform) wallet address. The actual action of scanning a barcode can be recorded as a transaction of the blockchain to enable better accountability.

Furthermore, Blockarray will allow information to be distributed across supply chain companies through the entire chain that they may not have had access to before. Assets could also be tracked without RFID, unlike other RFID-based solutions like Waltonchain or VeChain – all that would be required is updated software. Another key goal is reducing the barrier to entry for new businesses accessing existing sales platforms like Amazon or eBay by allowing purchase of GS1 barcodes with ARY tokens. The firm also targets smaller enterprises that may not have their own blockchain ambitions realised due to the expertise required to utilize the tech. This product is designed to be deployed both the Ethereum blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric. Eventually, there are plans to use Cardano in Q3/Q4 2018, and to further use Chainpoint and Oracles POA.

Transport Use Cases

So, we’ve talked broadly about one Blockarrays goal to track items across the supply chain, Hackernoon’s Tommy Wilkinson nails an example process as below:

  • A HGV driver is ready to leave with a container of product from a warehouse. The Blockarray mobile app will be used to scan a Bill of Lading barcode (see more on Bills of Lading with another startup, CargoX here) and via an Object Name Service a document is pulled, and other data collected such as GPS and local time.
  • The shipper and carrier sign off on the run, and when the driver leaves, a Geofence trigger is activated,and records the time. This data is written to the blockchain and is thus immutable.
  • Any violations of contract terms is clearly recorded and disputes can be settled quickly and breaches resolved. All parties will then receive receipts and copies of data via blockchain.

blockarray block array

Standardising approaches between businesses is a key goal for Blockarray, and it’s been confirmed they are a working with Tennessee State Representatives to create a framework and possible pilot study for smart contracts. The firm is also a member of BITA, the blockchain in transport alliance. This group has some large multinationals as members, including UPS, McLeod Software, FedEx and Bridgestone. A cornerstone of their approach is the use of GS1 standards, just like other supply chain protocol developers OriginTrail.

One of the big shipping use cases Blockarray points out is a solution to a detention payout problem where having reliable evidence is an issue:

When a truck driver arrives at the time they are suppose to, but the cargo is not ready to be loaded, they are entitled to a detention payout. Detention was ranked as one of the five leading business problems by 84 percent of the 257 carriers surveyed, including trucking companies and owner-operators.

Having time and geostamps on an immutable, shared ledger can quickly resolve these claims, act as a prompt to reduce incidents of detention by cargo loaders, and ensure recompense is given to affected parties.
Another case is putting daily trucking logs onto the blockchain. In Europe, tachographs are a legal requirement for goods and passenger carrying vehicles, to ensure driving time speed limit laws are adhered to.  EU regulation No 165/2014 is an incredibly serious piece of legislation policed throughout Europe heavily, and can result in large fines for both companies and their employees. In the U.S, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the electronic logging device rule in December 2015. This required the use of an electronic logging device to automatically record the driver’s Record of Duty Status (i.e if he is driving and for how long).

Visual Smart Contracts

The use of visual smart contracts is how Blockarray, through their Badger consumer app can link information from firms to their products for public consumption.

Goods in supermarkets have different label standards. For example the reporting standards for what “is and is not” organic differs from company to company. With badger these are just some of the features you can see with products:

See the organization that actually certifies the product

See reviews of the product

See hazards that have been listed (e.g. choking for children)

Poison Control Information

Safety Datasheet

Product Recalls

For example, you could purchase a fridge from a store, and it breaks after a period of time. The consumer could use the badger app to scan the barcode on the product, which then could list product recall information, warranty dates, the items repair history if it has any and lists of authorised repair centres. It could even provide links to instruction manuals or other documentation. So far this platform is being developed on Ethereum, and the proposal details creating a standard barcode system like GS1 to be used with the blockchain. Further platforms such as Hyperledger Fabric are also being developed for.

Token Economics, Utility and ICO

At ICO, 1 ARY was priced at 0.18 USD. The total supply sits at 88,409,933 ARY and a circulation supply of 68,430,738. Blockarray currently has a market cap of just $11,525,105 USD (0.168 USD per ARY).

40% of tokens were available in the ICO, with 55% of funds raised being used for product development, 10% held in reserve, 20% on marketing and 15% earmarked for business expenses. Not much detail here which is a shame. Tokens held by the team have a 9 month cliff, so if an employee leaves before this period they receive no tokens, with a phased 4 year vesting period following this. Blockarray also retains first right of refusal before selling onto exchanges.

Token holders will have the opportunity to host full nodes or partial nodes for the blockchain network. Blockarray will have its own GS1 Prefix, allowing us to issue codes for those who wish to use our own prefix for their products. Token holders will be able to purchase ONS2.0.1 compliant barcodes using our prefix, and domain name service will be provided by us for such issuances. A proportion of the tokens used in the issuance of such barcodes will be burned, providing an anchor to the blockchain by means of the timestamp of the transaction.

So a couple of key points to take from that quote that contain value for token holders.

  • Proof of stake/masternode potential down the line to generate income.
  • Purchasing of barcodes – creates demand for the token, thus can create positive price action for holders.
  • % burn of tokens used at issuing of barcodes reducing supply.

You can buy Blockarray $ARY at KuCoin.

Active Partnerships & Future Activity

Blockarray currently has a small pilot study with a local carrier consisting of 15 trucks. Also recently announced was a partnership with qlink.mobi, a decentralized mobile network constructing an open-source telecom infrastructure on blockchain. The core aim of the partnership is to implement Qlink’s dapp functions for Blockarrays customers.

This means trucks will be able to communicate engine data and electronic logging device data to their owners while en route. In return, Block Array will help to deploy Qlink Chain Full Nodes to ensure network uptime, reliability, and stability for its users.

qlink blockarray

With one of the platforms Blockarray is working on being a secure proof of logging and proof of arrival/departure ledger, this partnership will allow an always online transparent immutable blockchain, that could open up data to explore further with the Internet of Vehicles.

Badger – the planned consumer app will be launched in Feb 2018, with the enterprise app in March. Also in this month will see the beginning of electronic logging device records being anchored to the blockchain, with visual smartcontracts in April/May. Furthermore in April will see e-commerce intergration plugins for woo-commerce and Magento released.

You can buy Blockarray $ARY at KuCoin.

The Blockarray overview paper can be found in PDF format here, and the full format whitepaper here on their github. The Telegram chat group is linked here and you can follow them on Twitter @blockarraygroup. In the past month the team has also unveiled their new website at https://blockarray.com/.

Any thoughts? Follow me on twitter!

If you liked this, you may like this article: OriginTrail – A purpose-built, blockchain agnostic protocol for supply chains.

Blockchain and Logistics – its most promising use case? An overview of upcoming projects including Shipchain.io, VeChain, Waltonchain, Ambrosus, Modum and SophiaTX.

When firms across the globe first starting hearing about blockchain technology for integration with logistics systems, the association was with bitcoin – as a payment processor, rather than the underlying disruptive technology that could reduce costs and complexity for carriers. Once the education piece had been completed with stakeholders, it was quickly understood how logistics firms could leverage blockchain to their advantage.

There was a fantastic article from the NYT published back in March, that effectively boils down as to why blockchain can have such an impact in logistics:

At its heart, blockchain simply refers to a bookkeeping method that “chains” together entries so that they are very difficult to modify later. It provides a way for large groups of unrelated companies to jointly keep a secure and reliable record of their transactions.

Nathaniel Popper and Steve Lohr, the author of the article gives the example that a single container being shipped could require approvals and stamps from up to 30 people or authorities. These could include tax revenue authorities, national shipping and public health bodies.

We know Disney first started exploring blockchain back in 2014, and so did IBM with their Blue Coin project, that eventually become Openchain. The director of research at IBM Arvind Krishna openly admits it took him a fair bit of convincing to even properly look at the technology.

“That was the ‘aha’ for me,” Mr. Krishna said. “This was not really about digital payments, but establishing trust in transactions in general.” He called it “a technology that can change the world.”

We know now firms across the globe are heavily exploring blockchain, and IBM alone has 650 employee working on it, and they have 400 clients testing their products – one of those being Walmart. One of the largest providers of enterprise software SAP, has launched its Leonardo project to utilise blockchain, and set in it three key use cases on which to focus its efforts on. SAP asset intelligence, SAP distrusted manufacturing and SAP transportation management.

SAP is also a member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, who’s mission is to engage in education the transport industry, to bring about extracting the full potential of benefits that blockchain technology promises. Some of the key members of this alliance include UPS, McLeod software, FedEx, Penske, TMW systems, Convoy, and Bridgestone. Clearly, we can see large, multinational companies are taking blockchain seriously and developing systems. What will be covered now are those smaller firms based in crypto that have raised funds via ICOs, who can help to facilitate those companies seeking to integrate blockchain with their logistics systems.

VeChain $VEN

vechain

VeChain has recently come to the attention of many as they have started being a bit more public with announcements, but it’s actually a bit of a slow burning project. The VeChain tech was designed back in the second quarter of 2015, and since then the team have built upon several smart contract templates, and their own custom hardware.

From a Medium post by the VeChain Team

VeChain has developed a powerful blockchain-enabled enterprise software platform. The VeChain platform enables manufacturers to assign products with unique identities, which then allow manufacturers, supply chain partners and even consumers to interact with the product through the platform. It uses blockchain technology to ensure the security of the data collected, allocating private keys to all participants within the supply chain.

These IDs are stored on the blockchain, and physically put on the product with a NFC chip, QR code, or like WTC/Modum – a RFID tag. During further manufacturing of the unfinished product, or shipping with a carrier, or arriving at a retail location the ID can be interacted with and data updated on the blockchain.

One of China’s largest importer of fine wines (Direct Imported Goods) have already placed one million bottles of wine on VeChain’s platform in an effort to counter the import of fake wine. This could further be applied to other luxury or high spec goods that are often counterfeited.

In an important step for the company, VeChain recently became the first firm to pass PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Cryptocurrency Disaster Recovery Plan

VeChain spearheaded the first Cryptocurrency Disaster Recovery Plan (CDRP) that meets the demands of accredited firms and approved by PwC. This is the first of its kind in the world and sets a standard for corporate level DRP and risk management of internal or external controls on blockchain solution and cryptocurrency assets both on digital and physical wallets.

While this fantastic press, it’s important to note VeChain were part of PwC’s incubation program back in May 2017, and have had their resources and research at their disposal. It’s pretty easy to pass a set of standards with a firm you have been working with for close to a year. Jay Zhang, the finance director for VeChain was also a senior manager at PwC. According to their ideas of development VeChain have also been working with PwC and the Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Sciences to develop a blockchain cloud project that is for the verification of organic agricultural projects. While I can appreciate the plan, it’s pretty easy to create positive press with this kind of clearly long term partnership.

You can buy VeChain $VEN at Binance and KuCoin.

shipchain.io

shipchain airdrop

Imagine a fully integrated system across the entire supply chain–from the moment it leaves the factory, field, or farm–to delivering the finished product to the customer’s doorstep; federated in trustless, transparent blockchain contracts.

Shipchain seeks to utilise the Ethereum blockchain, using a side-chain to track geographic waypoints across smart contracts. These waypoints will be encrypted so only involved parties can access the data, but still retaining the benefits of an immutable blockchain. This allows better communication across the supply chain for customers, carriers and creators.

As detailed in the whitepaper, Shipchain is looking to address the following issues in the shipping market:

  • Bad tracking for end users
  • Lack of transparency
  • Poor accountability across the supply chain
  • Freight broker markup
  • Misaligned incentives, especially for carriers at the tail end of the chain.

The team is led by CEO John Monarch, the founder of Direct Outbound, which is currently one of the fastest growing 3PL companies in the US. Roger Crook the Global Head of Sales and e-Commerce at DHL Global Forwarding takes the Chief Strategy Office role. One of the more noted advisers is Al Pettenato, a former VP of XPO logistics and Senior VP of North America for DHL. A fairly strong team looking at the experience listed.

The ownership of the $SHIP token will bestow membership to the token holder, and will grant access to the blockchain for booking freight and tracking shipments. These transactions on the blockchain for shipments will be paid, and settled in tokens, giving a high utility factor to the token. Interestingly, there is also an incentive for the carriers at the end of the supply chain –

Tokens valued at up to 20% of each freight transaction will be given to the driver/carrier as “gamified” incentives for safe and timely deliveries, as well as environment focused such as reduced idle time. From there, drivers will either be able to sell their tokens on exchanges, or redeem those tokens via partnerships ShipChain will form for various rewards, such as gift cards, fuel discounts, and more. Q2 2018 will see the first integration with government-mandated ELD devices.

The Shipchain ICO has closed, but an airdrop is currently available at time of publish to members of their telegram group, link is here to their official site. Please check URLs, and remember to never give out your private key in case the site is compromised.

Modum $MOD

Previously two in depth articles have been published regarding this niche blockchain project seated in logistics:

Modum – Real blockchain utility, in a sea of vaporware. Part 1 – From the whitepaper to mass production.

Modum – Real blockchain utility, in a sea of vaporware. Part 2 – Concerns regarding the token utility and possible classification as a security.

Simply, Modum is a supply-chain monitor for the pharmaceutical sector, that ensures shipments are meeting temperature requirements to comply with EU law. It can impassively reduce cost per shipment for hauliers and ensures transparency/audit compliance by keeping the data from its sensors on the blockchain.

You can purchase Modum at Binance and KuCoin.

Ambrosus $AMB

ambrosus masternode

 

Ambrosus looks like the most direct competitor to $MOD, focusing on food and medicinal shipments. There so far has been no showcase of any sensor equipment, but according to some of their updates they also have a focus on data silos and management to speed up compliance and process analysis. In practical terms, they do seem a way behind modum with no evidence of pilots or partnerships going live, while Modum has their fourth pilot going live with their proprietary technology, and 10,000 sensors hitting mass production in Q1.

According to the Ambrosus roadmap, they are planning on releasing the full API set and dev tools in March 2018, then in June 2018 releasing the sensors for Ambrosus. According to one of the content managers Aneesh, the team are:

In the process of patenting and protecting many of the sensor technologies and the smart packaging and product capsules.

In the Food Sensors and Tracers PDF published on their site, it seems Ambrosus will first start with traditional sensors, then move forward in developing new sensors that can allow assessments of various analytes in gases, liquid and solids, including 02 and C02 levels, glucose, ammonia.

Ambrosus combines the innovations and inherent strengths of the hardware and the software parts that it is a disruptive solution. Naturally, as with every breakthrough, stakeholders also need to have a multidisciplinary comprehension to accept Ambrosus. Therefore, the design of the hardware part will be carried out incrementally. There is more than one solution to a specific case. We can start with already in-place sensors, then propose new monitoring systems, and finally fully embrace the digitalization concept by entirely redesigning the system into one using modern food tracers and biosensors.

While Modum fulfils a niche, clearly Ambrosus is looking to disrupt the whole chain of integrity across logistics. Another key differentiation from Modum is the possibility of decentralising by going down the masternode route, although not confirmed yet, is an option the CEO Angel Versetti confirmed on Reddit the team were considering.

You can buy Ambrosus $AMB at Binance and KuCoin.

Waltonchain $WTC

Waltonchain is another RFID-based solution, and recently Boxmining visted Waltonchain’s reserach center in Xiamen to have a look at their product demo. Like Modum and Ambrosus, they are seeking to incorporating tracking of physical goods into the blockchain, and thus preventing counterfeiting an loss of assets during transit. WTC will have the ability to write information from RFID straight to the blockchain without any need for an API interface, as WTC holds a patent which integrates memory with RFID.

WTC also has some different token mechanics, as it has the possibility of becoming a masternode if holding 5K+ tokens. This feature coming online in Q1, possibly just after mainnet comes online and the token-swap and genesis block have been completed.

Waltonchain, out of all the ICOs in the past two years have probably the most amount of partnerships that are currently not under an NDA. An incredibly comprehensive list has been put together, and is well worth the read. A few of the highlights include:

Note that many of these projects are not just limited to logistics, which could either showcase the versatility of blockchain and WTC, or could be a concern the company is overstretching itself.

You can buy Waltonchain $WTC at Binance and KuCoin.

SophiaTX $SPHTX

sophiatx

Full article is linked below, but SophiaTX seeks to disrupt SAP-using businesses by integrating blockchain to increase inefficiencies between firms. They have recently signed a joint letter of interest with a Riydh based logisitics company that each year handles more than 2 million tons of cargo.

SophiaTX – Blockchain for business. Blockchain integration with SAP and enterprise software.

As always, do your own research, this is not financial advice.

Any thoughts? Follow me on twitter!