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Associated British Ports in blockchain test with BiTA member Marine Transport International

 ( PHOTO: ABP )

(PHOTO: ABP)

Britain’s largest ports operator looks to distributed ledger technology to ease cargo movements.

Associated British Ports (ABP), the largest port operator in the country, is testing the use of blockchain to facilitate trade through its marine terminals.

ABP, which owns 21 ports in England and Scotland, signed a memorandum of understanding with digital logistics enabler Marine Transport International (MTI) for the project. ABP says the project is “one of Europe’s first” to examine blockchain use cases to improve port connectivity.

ABP’s head of communications Andrew Dunn says the group has been working for a while on how to deploy blockchain at its marine terminals. ABP’s ports handles 1.4 million containers annually, along with vehicles and other cargo.

“In the maritime industry, the supply chain is global and very extensive,” Dunn said. “What we are investigating is what blockchain can do for the speed at which that chain operates,” Dunn said.

He declined to say what specific use cases or services that ABP and MTI hope to automate through blockchain. But he says the source of goods coming through ABP’s ports will be one area that the MTI blockchain solution hopes to smooth.

“The provenance of cargo is of increasing importance,” Dunn said. “Hopefully, blockchain can improve the speed and efficacy of our operations.”

In a statement, ABP says the disparate information systems used by shippers and haulers “do not all talk to each other efficiently.” With a distributed ledger built with MTI’s technology, ABP wants “to securely link these disparate ways of working and could bridge the silos to reduce time spent on manually re-entering data, ensuring a single version of the truth.

MTI, a member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, says it plans to make interoperability with existing information systems a key part of the pilot program.

MTI chief executive and founder Jody Cleworth, whose previous experience includes Kuehne + Nagel and Maersk, said in a statement that “blockchain-enabled technology has the potential to provide a transparent, secure and accurate way of capturing and sharing data with key parties.”