Sunday 18th Nov, 2018

Blockchain powers Aussie almond exports


MILDURA in north-western Victoria has become the focus of an experiment in blockchain-based international trade.

Seventeen tonnes of almonds from the Sunraysia region were shipped and tracked to Hamburg in Germany as part of a blockchain-based collaboration between Commonwealth Bank and five Australian and international supply chain players.

CBA managing director of industrial and logistics Chris Scougall said their blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment “brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent”.

“We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers,” Mr Scougall said.

CBA partnered with global agriculture player Olam Orchards Australia, Pacific National for rail haulage, Port of Melbourne, Patrick Terminals and shipping carrier OOCL.

Hardware and software support came from Australian internet of things provider LX Group.


CBA managing director of global commodities and trade Alex Toone said by developing a new platform underpinned by emerging technology, blockchain and internet of things they were “able to prove a concept to modernise global trade”.

According to CBA, the platform digitises three key areas of global trade – operations, documentation and finance – by housing the container information, completion of tasks and shipping documents, on a purpose-built blockchain.

Stakeholders could view and track the location of the shipment as well as view the conditions, such as temperature and humidity inside the container, via four devices.

Olam Orchards supply chain manager Emma Roberts said trade inefficiency could be extremely detrimental.

“It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform,” Ms Roberts said.

“This project has shown that through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain that this can be achieved.”

Pacific National chief financial officers Gerhard Ziems said since the expansion of globalisation, global supply chains had become more complex.

“This project is unique as it looks to re-imagine how the supply chain communicates and shares information,” Mr Ziems said.

“Simple access to this information provides us with an ability to better utilise our assets and provide customers with better, more efficient services.”

Patrick Terminals chief commercial officer Ashley Dinning said they were “always looking for ways to innovate and drive better results”.

“This project has provided a heightened level of transparency, enabling us to explore further efficiencies for our business, such as improving yard management,” Mr Dinning said.

Port of Melbourne general manager for trade and development, Melissa Poon, said emerging blockchain technology created the potential for productivity gains to Australia’s supply-chain.

“Through understanding volume loads and shipments coming down the supply chain, we are able to prepare strategies to meet the trade demands of the future,” Ms Poon said. “We are excited to be involved in such a ground-breaking project.”

The CBA statement noted OOCL was leveraging technology and expertise from its CargoSmart subsidiary, a global shipping and logistics software solutions provider.

OOCL’s involvement reportedly helped them explore additional data points in the entire shipping journey to improve planning and operations.

Mr Scougall said the experiment showed CBA’s commitment to partnering with customers to deliver innovative solutions. It followed a transaction two years ago involving CBA and US-based bank Wells Fargo which involved successfully completing the first global trade transaction via blockchain between two independent banks.

“We thrive on the opportunity to work with our customers to help them adapt to changing industry trends, particularly technology,” Mr Scougall said.

“It was key to us that we partner with businesses across the entire supply chain, so we could get a holistic picture of how this technology could impact and improve the efficiency of the transport and logistics industry.”

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