There’s so much that can go wrong in the shipping of sensitive and delicate parcels. Whether it’s medicines, highly sophisticated technology devices or living creatures that can easily deteriorate while being transported, the odds of them being damaged or else made ineffective, are quite high.
That’s why handlers need to be able to rely on a platform like the one created by Dutch startup Innotractor as a result of the EIT Digital supported “Gravity” innovation activity.
The solution consists of three building blocks that enable a new way of handling parcel delivery and accelerate the implementation of more reliable and sustainable delivery processes: DiLLaStm (Distributed Ledger for Logistics and Supply chain management - the ledger and application layer), GRAVITY (the core technology layer) and Telbase (for CRM, billing and payment process).
DiLLaS is a ledger service which securely registers all activities and data in the end-to-end logistics chain and makes this data transparent to all parties involved. DiLLaS does not replace corporates’ existing shipping functionalities, it rather aims at acting as a glue between all parties in the logistics ecosystem. It can be used to enhance and streamline any kind of value chain where logistics is involved, from bike-sharing services to company fleets, from shipping electronic goods to medical supplies.
“Imagine a classic shipping expedition, in which the package is being handed over from transport company to logistics distribution center, crosses a border, goes through an ownership transfer; we log all these events, all service level agreement violations and track who has the responsibility of the package at that point in time. The sender, the receiver, the warehouse and all others in between can have access to this data in real-time,” Innotractor’s CEO and co-founder Frank Hermans says.
All of this translates into a reduced number of hours spent on solving issues, simplification of documents’ handling - which helps in turn in enforcing security, preventing counterfeiting, and enables origin tracking.
The data recording enables increased service accountability in the chain versus SLA’s (service level agreements). Finally, it allows stakeholders involved to intervene if something goes wrong, and thus limit the damage before it’s too late.
A typical case in point is what happens in the healthcare sector.
“Every year, millions of drugs and medications reach their destination degraded because of incorrect shipping and have to be scrapped,” Hermans says. Combined with other effects of poor supply chain management, such as broken equipment and lack of supplies, this has a huge financial impact on the hospitals: in the US alone, according to a 2018 study by Navigant, they are spending $25 billion more each year on supply chain operations than is needed.
With DiLLaS this waste of resources could be significantly reduced.
The platform’s core blockchain ledger allows for a trusted and decentralised recollection of all events related to the shipment, that all stakeholders in the value chain can access for security, reporting, SLA management and transactions. The data generated becomes then visible and actionable by means of a smartphone or tablet application.
In the medications example above, for instance, the platform would be triggered by the scanning of the parcel’s barcode by the handler and the information about package status would be visible through the DiLLaS app to the operator in real-time, so that he could take action, if needed. If the goods’ temperature has been too high versus agreed levels, for instance, the receiving end could reject the package. Whereas today, with the legacy systems, the information is only sent to a central platform to record that the package has been scanned.
Telbase, the third component of the platform, is where the billing part is taken care of, and is instrumental in making sure that each user is able to invoice their customers in the most suitable way. Bike-sharing providers, for instance, usually want to be paid directly by credit card, hotels want to make sure they can integrate the expense in the hotel bill; large corporations prefer monthly invoicing.
The platform is fully functional and is currently going to be trialed. One of the trials is with activity partner Poste Italiane, which acts as pilot and reference customer.
“Poste Italiane have been helping us tremendously with the logistics knowledge, the supply chain knowledge, and security knowledge and also to target the different target groups into the supply chain,” InnoTractor’s CEO explains.
InnoTractor was incorporated in August 2018 as a result of the approval of the Gravity innovation activity, which, besides Poste Italiane, included Datacon and TU Berlin as partners.