UPS Blockchain Patent to Route Packages through International Supply Chains via Multiple Carriers
United Parcel Service has applied for a patent where systems and methods are provided for the automated determination and facilitation of a transportation plan for transporting a shipment unit containing at least one shipment unit through one or more transportation networks corresponding to one or more carriers.
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UPS is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions for the transportation of packages and freight, including innovative delivery options for the global consumer market; the facilitation of international trade, and the deployment of advanced technology to more efficiently manage…
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UPS Blockchain Patent
As reported by CCN (formerly CryptoCoinsNews), century-old delivery giant United Parcel Service (UPS) believes that blockchain technology could help streamline package delivery logistics across a global supply chain.
According to documents published by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) last Thursday, the Georgia-based UPS has applied for a patent that utilizes blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) to route packages throughout an international supply chain that may include multiple carriers.
The patent application, which UPS originally filed on February 16, 2017, explains that while shipping logistics providers have become quite adept at optimizing package routing to increase efficiency and minimize costs, it is still difficult to coordinate logistics for shipments that involve more than one logistics service provider transportation network.
As the patent authors explained (USPTO Application 20180232693):
“Generally, when a shipment unit is received by a logistics service provider for transporting from an origin to a destination, the logistics service provider determines a routing of the shipment unit through the logistics service provider's transportation network. However, the shipment unit may need to travel through and/or to a region of the world not serviced by the logistics service provider. For example, a shipment unit may be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to a delivery address in China. Therefore, there may be scenarios in which it is advantageous for various logistics service providers to transport the shipment unit along different legs/segments from its origin to its destination. However, it may be difficult to coordinate the transportation of the shipment unit through the various logistics service provider transportation networks. Moreover, if there are special handling requirements for transporting the shipment unit, it may be difficult to ensure that the special handling requirements are carried through by each of the various logistics service providers that may assist in transporting the shipment unit.”
UPS aims to tackle this problem with an autonomous system that, in some embodiments, uses an immutable blockchain ledger to automatically route packages through multiple logistics service provider networks.
Once a package has been scanned into a packaging facility, the system will automatically select a route based on the service offerings of network-connected shipping providers. As the package travels to its destination, information about the shipment will be recorded in the blockchain ledger, allowing the system to rate whether service providers are meeting the obligations of their respective service offerings.
The patent authors note that, in some forms, the system could be built to accommodate interlocked DLT networks that use smart contracts to pay various parties within the supply chain as they fulfill their obligations within a particular leg of the shipment. If built on top of a public blockchain network, that system could even use decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ether to handle those value transfers.
In November 2017, UPS announced that it had joined the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) to create industry standards and protocols to enable blockchain platforms to operate together with established technologies.
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