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Des Moines Truck Brokers joins Blockchain in Transport Alliance


Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. (DMTB), a leading third-party logistics company, has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), an organization dedicated to developing best practices and standards for blockchain in the transportation industry. BiTA’s members include McLeod, Daimler, DAT, FedEx, SAP and Trucker Tools, among dozens of other global brands.

Blockchain is a technology that enables users to identify and track transactions digitally as well as share information across a distributed network of computers. For the transportation industry, blockchain provides the opportunity to more effectively track goods and freight across the supply chain. Blockchain also will allow transportation and logistics companies to operate in a more seamless and transparent manner. It can also help create new revenue streams and value for customers by enabling a system to complete transactions, track shipments and manage fleets.

“By joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, DMTB will join other leaders in the supply chain and participate in the development and use of blockchain proficiency. We believe this will be useful in contract management, freight visibility, compliance, fraud prevention, sourcing and compensation,” said Jimmy DeMatteis, President and CEO of Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. “We will have the opportunity to participate in the development of standards and context with other industry leaders to promote widespread implementation of this latest digital technology for the supply chain.”   

“Blockchain technology will transform the supply chain by introducing greater transparency, innovation and efficiency,” said Chris Burruss, President of BiTA. “On behalf of the members of BiTA, I welcome Des Moines Truck Brokers to the Alliance. We look forward to the company’s contributions to our collective efforts.”

“DMTB is committed to its customers and carriers to be an industry leader in technology. Blockchain is coming, and BiTA is at the forefront of setting the standards we will all live by and we want to be actively involved in that planning,” said Eric Davis, Solutions Manager at DMTB.

Founded in 1969, Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. was one of the first 50 freight brokers in the USA. Today, DMTB is a recognized Top 100 Freight Broker and workplace in an industry that has grown to over 15,000 licensed participants. Family-owned DMTB has a heavy focus on foods and perishable goods. DMTB utilizes age-old values with bright young talent and continues to invest in technology to assure its participation at the forefront of a disruptive and always changing industry.

Uber, local startups, ramp up investment in bus-hailing services

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Move over ride-hailing. Bus-hailing apps are picking up steam. The momentum is strongest in developing countries, where concerns about pollution and traffic congestion are mounting. Many developing countries also have a long history of mass transit use.

This new mobility sector has a long way to go before achieving the scale of its car-hailing predecessor. But a growing number of venture capital-funded start-ups are staking a claim. India is taking the lead. Last week Gurugram-based Shuttl, an early entrant, reported it had landed $7.2 million as part of a Series B funding round, according to DealStreet Asia. Participants included Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed India Partners and Times Internet Ltd., a subsidiary of Indian media house Bennett Coleman and Co.

While the dollar figure is small compared to the hundreds of millions being invested in ride-sharing companies, it is notable for being the latest in a series of fund raises Shuttl has completed in the past 12 months. The start-up secured $1.4 million from Trifecta Capital in January, following a round of $11 million led by Amazon India, Amazon Alexa Fund and Dentsu Ventures in July 2018.

Founded in 2015, Shuttl has raised a total of $43.8 million, according to CrunchBase.

Big players are circling the market. Last year Uber launched a bus program in Cairo, Egypt as well as Monterrey, Mexico, and the company plans to add staff to its Seattle-based “high capacity vehicles team,” as the Uber bus program is called, GeekWire reported today.

“We’re seeing the growth of this product take off faster than UberX did when it launched in [those cities] – really early on, there are signs of product market fit,” said Miraj Rahematpura, a product manager on the high capacity vehicles team, according to GeekWire. “We’re super excited to scale to a lot more cities.”

Uber and Shuttl, which is owned by Super Highway Labs, have a shared history stemming from Uber’s recent acquisition of Middle East on-demand cab hailing rival Careem for $3.1 billion. Last fall Careem acquired another Indian bus shuttle service app, Commut, in a deal that brought the latter’s talent and technology under the Careem umbrella, while shifting its customers and drivers to Shuttl, Bloomberg reported.

That acquisition helped Shuttl grow services featuring around 700 buses that provide 45,000 rides per day on 130 routes in eight cities. The latest funding round will be used to expand the company’s geographical reach, and serve more consumers across Indian cities.

Also known as microtransit and on-demand buses, bus-hailing startups typically feature private shuttle buses that run multiple routes. Like Shuttl, customers use an app to find and purchase tickets for seats.

Co-founder Amit Singh has said his goal is to reduce pollution and traffic in crowded cities like Delhi by encouraging people to take mass transportation.

The apportioning of Commut assets is not the only example of a changing market. Ola, Uber’s main competitor in India, shut down its bus unit Ola Shuttle last year. (Ola is now reportedly in talks with Uber to acquire the latter's operations in India.) Several other bus-hailing startups remain – Shuttl’s competitors include Bengaluru’s ZipGo and Mumbai’s Cityflo.

The sector is trickier to crack in the U.S., where most cities lack sufficient urban density and a history of transit ridership. In January, the app-based shuttle service Chariot shut down, two and one-half years after being acquired by Ford for a reported $65 million. Uber shut down a carpool service called UberHOP more than three years ago.

Spanish logistics provider ChainGO Tech joins Blockchain in Transport Alliance

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A Spanish start-up founded in 2017 to promote the digital revolution in the global logistics sector, ChainGO Tech has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA). ChainGo Tech’s primary focus is on international trade and transport, such as the maritime shipping.

Blockchain is an open, distributed digital ledger that can record and share transactions between two or more parties efficiently, securely and permanently. Blockchain enables transportation companies to more accurately track shipments, routes and transport vehicles (in all modes) while providing a highly secure platform that permits faster processing and payments.

Blockchain applications are expanding globally. BiTA and its members are developing best practices and standards for blockchain in transportation/logistics. BiTA is also providing information and educational materials relating to blockchain technologies for the freight, transportation and logistics industries.

According to the International Maritime Organization, maritime transport is essential to the world’s economy; over 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea and it is, by far, the most cost-effective way to move goods and raw materials en masse around the world.

However, the maritime industry has a number of key problems, including bureaucratic inefficiency and risk of fraud. Previous efforts to digitize global trade in the maritime sector (and within other transportation modes) have been met with trepidation due to the lack of clear and common objectives and trust between individual actors. Blockchain technology can help avoid these problems.

“Our platform is based on blockchain technology that guarantees the realization of verified transactions, transparency and full confidence in the authenticity of documents,” stated ChainGO Tech CEO Andrés Garrido. Blockchain provides transparency and immutability of information and is considered one of the technologies that is expected to disrupt the logistics industry.

Garrido added, “Partnering with BiTA, ChainGO Tech want to take part in defining and developing blockchain standards for transportation and logistics. Being involved with leading companies in the sector and emerging technological companies worldwide, all pushing in the same direction, is an incredible opportunity that will help all of us.”

Oliver Haines, Vice President-European Region for BiTA, said, "On behalf of BiTA and its members around the world, I welcome ChainGO Tech to the BiTA Community. We look forward to the company’s contributions to the Alliance. ChainGO Tech brings expertise in current supply chain practices, which is important for the establishment of a seamless path into blockchain application.”

“We are grateful to BITA, its staff and membership for this opportunity to offer our know-how,” Garrido said. “ChainGO Tech can make a contribution in this new era of digitalization and transformation.”

Based in Madrid and Valencia, ChainGO Tech offers innovative software solutions based on blockchain technology that manage the burdensome transport and cargo documentation process involved in sea, ground and air transportation. ChainGO Freight is the platform the company launched earlier this year. ChainGO Freight connects the many different players in the global supply chain with a safe, secure and efficient process backed by an immutable blockchain.

ChainGO Tech offers clients a complete platform dedicated to seamlessly managing and controlling documentation in cargo transport. The company has a novel approach, with an agnostic blockchain solution aimed at providing a high level of customization tailored to the needs of every client.

Blockchain can help reduce large-scale food recalls due to contamination fears

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Henry Avocado Corporation, a California-based avocado company, recalled shipments early this week that it had sent out to six states in the U.S., after fears of its avocados being contaminated with bacteria that could cause major health risks. The bacterium under the scanner is Listeria monocytogenes, a microorganism that can cause severe infections in children, those who are immunity-deficient and older people, which could sometimes end up being a fatal affliction.

The company in its statement mentioned that it voluntarily recalled the avocado shipments sold in bulk in retail stores, as a routine government inspection in its California packing facility tested positive for the bacteria. The company has exerted caution in removing the crates off shelves, even though there have been no reported cases of illness caused by consuming avocados from this specific batch.

Henry Avocado has recalled its California-grown conventional and organic avocados that were packed in California, from the states of Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin. However, avocados that were imported from Mexico and distributed by the company are not affected and continue to be sold at retail outlets.

In a similar incident last week, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods had recalled 69,000 pounds of chicken strips after a couple of consumers reported that they found metal pieces in the product. Though this was an isolated incident, the company had to recall all the items that were produced in a single plant in Rogers, Arkansas, that included 65,313 pounds of Tyson’s fully cooked chicken strips and crispy chicken strips that were sold in 25-ounce bags. The company also recalled 3,780 pounds of fully cooked chicken breast strips that were sold in 20-pound boxes.

Though Henry Avocado and Tyson Foods deal with two distinct food products and had completely different reasons for recalling their produce, the extent of the recall cannot be ignored. Discarding hundreds of pounds worth of consumables for a few pounds of contaminated items is highly inefficient and if done frequently, could end up affecting a  company’s bottom line.

Avoiding a generic recall is possible if companies turn towards blockchain for help. The inherent ability of blockchain to bring visibility into supply chains allows businesses to monitor every step in the journey of its produce from “farm to fork,” helping pinpoint issues as and when they arise.

For example, assume that a supply chain of wine bottles is put through a blockchain-based framework. If a few crates of wine were found to contain contaminants, the management would be able to precisely spot the nodal point within the supply chain when and where the contaminants entered the product, and could swiftly take action to remove the contaminated cases from the supply chain. This would save the winery from a variety of issues, including having to recall wine en masse.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be used in track-and-trace, with blockchain acting as the framework that data arising at different intervals from the supply chain gets added in real-time. Technological advancements have shrunk the sizes of IIoT products to smaller than a grain of salt, and thus they can be attached to crates and bags sold in bulk, helping pinpoint items if there is a breach in quality.

To make sure there is widespread adoption of blockchain within food supply chains, it is critical to create open standards that can act as a bedrock framework for developing blockchain-based tracking systems.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) is a consortium that has made this a reality, bringing together hundreds of stakeholders in the supply chain space to create open standards that companies can use as a platform for their blockchain pilots. Companies’ blockchain pilots, if successful, can be scaled up across the breadth of operations.  

However, within the realm of blockchain, caution still must be exerted. As companies establish a framework for all stakeholders within a food supply chain to adhere to specific regulations and quality control, the system would also need to be exhaustively audited to make sure product track-and-trace works seamlessly.

The possibilities of blockchain in regulating marijuana supply chains

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Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. As a result marijuana supply chains in the U.S. are starting to take shape, with commercial possibilities following. However, the contradiction between state and federal laws cannot be understated. Federal regulation continues to be a challenge for legal marijuana, which includes logistics from production to consumption.

It is crucial to monitor marijuana supply chains end-to-end to ensure no amount of the product slips through unnoticed. FreightWaves spoke with Michael Morey from Franwell about the finer details of marijuana supply chains and the primary concerns and challenges that face the marijuana industry. Franwell is a technology company dedicated to the development of leading- edge products and services with a focus on supply chain solutions and RFID integration

“For the monitoring process, we go back to the actual plants on the field. We track the number of plants that are planted by growers and look at the number of plants that survive until the end, as many of them die out. We track the plants through the process of maturation and harvest,” said Morey. “At that point, we will measure the amount of product that is derived from these plants, as well as the amount of waste, so that everything is accounted for.”

Precisely measuring the output and the waste is essential, because legal marijuana cultivation is strictly enforced and the measurement statistics need to be precise. Once the output is gauged, it is then distributed via packages, with each package being tagged and inventoried before it goes to a retailer. This way, it is possible to track the genealogy of a marijuana strain –  the plant it came from, its geographic origin, the name of the grower, and other specifics.

“Generally, marijuana is sold at mom-and-pop shops and the product is transported in small delivery vans, rather than in big trucks. Though the distribution of marijuana is not terribly sophisticated, the issue is with the federal law, because growing and distribution are still not legal under it. This causes problems in terms of banking – reporting the financials and filing taxes is difficult since banks are federally regulated,” said Morey.

It is here that technology like blockchain could help, as it can assist with accounting for each  step across the supply chain, and create transparency into the operations of every stakeholder in the chain.

One of the problems that faces the marijuana trade is that it remains entrenched in traditional cash transactions, rather than going digital. Then again, pushing the transactions through banks is also not viable because currently that is illegal. “This is a conundrum – as it’s legal in the state and illegal federally. The federal government can’t come into the state and prevent the sale and distribution of marijuana, but it can complicate the management of funds or money derived from the activity because the majority of banks are federally regulated,” said Morey.

Blockchain could alleviate the issue to an extent. The technology can help bring the largely underground movement of marijuana above board, and help create a semblance of trust between the stakeholders in the supply chain. The marijuana business is extremely profitable, and thus can generate a number of jobs within its ecosystem.

Even with blockchain, it would help the cause of the marijuana industry if there is an open data framework that could be used for companies to develop pilot blockchain programs. Consortiums like the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) are bringing together hundreds of stakeholders in the supply chain space to create open standards that companies can use as a platform for their blockchain pilots.

Morey explained that blockchain would help with verification just as credit cards do when they are swiped in supermarkets. “When you use your credit card, the validity of the card is verified,  and there is either an approval or rejection of the transaction. This is on a need-to-know basis, and I think this can work here as well,” he said. “For example, in the air cargo industry ground handlers track the freight they handle, generate an invoice to the forwarder or carrier, who in turn has its own data to compare with. This can take out all the discrepancies that arise in the process as everything exists within the same system.”