Standards critical to mainstream adoption of blockchain, says industry expert
That’s according to the CEO of Mar...
Defining a common set of standards is critical to ensuring mainstream adoption of blockchain-enabled technologies.
That’s according to the CEO of Marine Transport International, a UK logistics technology provider that specialises in blockchain-enabled products.
A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography; there has been significant interest in its application in the logistics and freight sectors, where it has the potential to increase transparency, improve efficiency and enable automation.
“Blockchain has been touted as a major innovation in the digitalisation of logistics, offering transparency, connectivity and automation at a time when all players are looking to become more efficient and cut costs to offset falling rates,” said Jody Cleworth, founder and CEO of MTI.
“Yet as with any new hype, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, a lot of confusion and a lot of investment which isn’t necessarily focusing on the long-term potential.
“Defining a common set of standards is the only way that blockchain is going to make the step up to being seriously considered by the major players in the supply chain.”
With so many of the major logistics players still wedded to legacy systems which can’t connect with one another, having a straightforward, transparent approach is the only way the sector is going to be able to harness the benefits of blockchain.
“Supply chains are made up of multiple parties, all of whom have made major investments in their technology,” continued Cleworth.
“Historically, those systems haven’t been set up to communicate outside themselves, so people have had to spend time and money repeating the capture of inputting of data to ensure that all parties have what they need.
“At a time when everyone is looking to become more efficient, cut costs and automate, being able to use a system that can connect with any legacy IT has the potential to radically transform a business.”
To that end, MTI has joined a new US-based blockchain standards organisation as its first European member.
Blockchain in Transport Association (BiTA) aims to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. It currently has 160 members, including UPS, SAP and Bridgestone.
Chris Burruss, president of BiTA said, “For blockchain to be a success, we need to have a transparent, open and honest process, which means everyone working off a standard. Right now, everyone is excited about the potential, but as with any new technology, there’s multiple ways it might be deployed. Identifying the right approach is critical in the journey to mass adoption.”
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”