Brewing Company Anheuser-Busch Pilots Blockchain For Shipping

Brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev, along with several other firms, has successfully tested a blockchain solution that eliminates the need for printed shipping documents.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is part of a wider blockchain consortium that experimented with technology developed by consultancy firm Accenture. Other participants included shipping container firm APL, logistics company Kuehne+Nagel, and an unnamed European customs organization.

The participants tested a solution where documents are no longer exchanged physically or digitally but instead, the relevant data is shared and distributed using blockchain technology under single ownership principles determined by the type of information. Through a detailed review of the current documentation processes, the group examined a re-allocation of information ownership, accountability and risk enabled by the trust and security blockchain technology offers.

The companies collaborated to test 12 real shipments, with various destinations, each with different regulatory requirements. The tests confirmed that blockchain can reduce operating costs and increase supply chain visibility. The solution reduced the requirement for data entry by up to 80 percent, simplified data amendments across the shipping process, streamlined the checks required for cargo and reduced the burden and risk of penalties for customs compliance levied on customers.

Adriana Diener-Veinott, who leads Accenture’s Freight & Logistics industry practice, said the trials have proven the viability of a shipping process in which many documents can be replaced by secure and distributed data sharing with clear and defined ownership. She said this gives companies a significant opportunity to save time and money while improving their service to customers.

Each organization involved in the trials typified a particular stakeholder in the shipping process. AB InBev represented a typical exporter; APL contributed its role as a shipping organization; Kuehne + Nagel provided direction on the requirements for a freight forwarder and a European customs organization replicated the regulatory requirements that cargo faces. Accenture provided the technological and consulting expertise on the blockchain technology and developed the technical architecture required to support a blockchain solution.

Danillo Figueiredo, VP of International Logistics at Anheuser-Busch InBev, believes that blockchain technology will be transformational to their business and the world.

“It reduces mistakes, digitizes information and improves the supply chain process so we can focus on our core business of brewing the best beers for consumers,” said Figueiredo.

Blockchain is being put forward by a number of parties involved in international freight movement to create an ironclad record of data related to individual shipments.

In January, Denmark-based shipping giant Maersk Line and IBM launched a joint venture that applies blockchain technology to create a transparent, indelible trail of each transaction. The blockchain platform is designed to help manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers across the world by digitizing the supply chain process from end-to-end to enhance transparency.

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