CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
January 21, 2019
Forward Thinking

BNSF joins blockchain group

First railroad to join Blockchain in Transport Alliance.

The blockchain buzz continues to spread across the transportation industry as BNSF Railway Company announced today that it has become the first railroad to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), an industry group created to guide the development of blockchain-based data-sharing software in the freight industry.

Blockchain technology creates a "distributed ledger" of information that can be accessed by all member parties, preventing any individual company from making changes to the data without the approval of the majority of partners in a transaction.

Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF becomes the first Class I railroad to join the group, and will cooperate with a range of companies including UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., SAP SE, McLeod Software, Trimble, and TransRisk. The group also includes a wide range of third-party logistics providers (3PLs), carriers, and shippers, as well as banks, insurance companies, and technology vendors, according to BiTA. Together, those member companies intend to create open standards for applying blockchain technology to create secure databases of logistics values and transactions.

The partners are working to define what data goes into the freight transportation blockchain, how that data is formatted, how the data is structured, and in what cases blockchain would be used, BNSF said.

"Blockchain technology has the potential to change several aspects of the transportation industry, and it is important that the industry comes together to align around a set of standards," Muru Murugappan, BNSF's vice president of technology services and chief information officer, said in a statement.

BiTA currently has 205 active members and is in the process of reviewing another 350 applications, according to Craig Fuller, the group's co-founder. About 1,200 applications have been filed to join the group. It is the largest industry-specific blockchain association, according to Fuller.

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