The system is a “blockchain-based” (or distributed ledger technology) freight and payment network that, “establishes state-of-the-art collaboration and information sharing with 70 third-party trucking companies that transport inventory for Walmart Canada nationally.”
DLT Labs’ website states that the company is, “experienced with multiple blockchain protocols, including Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, and Holochain, among others.”
The release does not state which blockchain is used in this case.
The software interface used here is DL Asset Track, which “synchronizes all the supply chain and logistics data in real-time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger…(to) track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation among Walmart Canada and its carriers which deliver inventory to over 400 retail stores across Canada annually.”
Wallmart’s entire 3rd-party fleet is expected to be onboarded by February 1, 2020.
The platform is designed to be user-friendly:
“The solution is accessible using a web portal and an easy to use mobile application.”
“The solution also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments and settlement. At the same time, it seamlessly integrates with each company’s legacy systems, so organizations can continue to follow their existing processes without retraining or a new investment in technology.”
John Bayliss, senior vice-president, logistics and supply chain, Walmart Canada, said the system also adds an element of transparency:
“Walmart Canada is dedicated to efficiency across our business, including most importantly in our supply chain and logistics management. Our carrier partners move over 500,000 loads of inventory nationally, which creates an extraordinary volume of transaction data. This new dynamic and interactive blockchain technology platform is creating complete transparency between Walmart Canada and all of our carrier partners.”
Bayliss adds, “Blockchain is enabling a material advance in our smart transportation network, with expedited payments, extensive cost savings and other benefits among our supply chain. Moreover, this degree of improved efficiency represents a powerful platform for us to continue to reduce our environmental footprint and continue our leadership in environmental sustainability.”
Loudon Owen, CEO of DLT Labs, says the system vindicates blockchain, which has been derided in some circles as an overhyped technology:
“DLT Labs is delighted to partner with such an extraordinary organization to bring the world’s first and largest blockchain solution for industry into production. This proves the high value of blockchain and sets the stage to revolutionize supply chain management and logistics, due to its ability to enable secure information sharing, manage trust and reduce waste in multi-partner operational processes.”
Owen adds, “Just as the Roman’s concept, ‘dictum meum pactum’ (meaning ‘my word is my bond’) was fundamental to building trade, this product creates a secure digital handshake using blockchain to renew trust and efficiency in global trade.”
Rod Hendrickson, VP Finance, Bison Transport, the transport firm that participated in the pilot, called the software “mutually beneficial”:
“Great partners find innovative ways to create business solutions that benefit both parties. The blockchain initiative we worked on with Walmart and DLT Labs is just that – a mutually beneficial solution that works well for Bison Transport and Walmart Canada. This project is a new paradigm that will greatly improve workflows, reduce paperwork, and make the business we do with Walmart more efficient.”
The announcement provides details on Walmart Canada’s sprawling distribution network and says the DLT system is building in efficiencies as well as cutting costs:
“(Our) distribution centres are hubs of activity, with more than 4,500 associates and drivers moving thousands of items daily from sites located in Calgary, Mississauga and Cornwall to stores from coast to coast across Canada. Walmart Canada operates 8.75 million square feet of distribution center and moves more than 853 million cases of merchandise annually. These goods are transported by a combination of 3rd party fleet as well as Walmart Canada’s own fleet of 180 tractors, 2,000 trailers and more than 350 drivers. Each third-party trailer tracks approximately 200 data points per shipment. Automating this data collection and management using blockchain results in a significant cost-saving.”
The release lists the following, “DIRECT BENEFITS OF FREIGHT & PAYMENT SOLUTION DEVELOPED BY WALMART CANADA AND DLT LABS”:
- Data Capture & Integrity: A distributed repository increases trust and transparency by sharing information and automating workflows and calculations to minimize manual effort and increase accuracy.
- System Efficiency: Improved collective resource utilization, including quicker responses, improved tracking and tracing, and early problem detection.
- Faster Transaction Time: Real-time consolidation of all business rules and transactions to create a single invoice reduces wait times and speeds up payments.
- Eliminates Disputes: All participants can now effectively manage the complex shipment, invoice, payment and settlement process, while minimizing unproductive time spent on disputes and reconciliations.
- Reduces Costs: Increased efficiency reduces all parties’ enterprise technology and administration costs.
- Better Budgeting and Planning: Accurate, real-time data can now be used for enhanced analytics and predictive modelling.
Walmart and DLT Labs say that the wealth of data created by advancing logistics systems and machinery necessitate the implementing of more advanced database systems:
“As transportation networks become increasingly interconnected, and products are embedded with computing devices that form the Internet of Things (IoT), an enormous amount of data is being generated that must be managed and integrated. This is particularly challenging inside and among multiple parties in large organizations where the information may be stored and used across different and fragmented operating systems. In a transportation network, for example, there are approximately 170 variable costs for each truck from data points such as global positioning system (GPS) data, contracts, shipment, and accounting information. While the benefits of interconnecting all parties are enormous, managing all the information that is generated can overwhelm legacy information technology systems. Blockchain-based solutions are the answer.”