SITA, ULD Care Explore Use of Blockchain To Track ULDs

SITA, the multinational IT provider for the air transport industry, and ULD Care, a not-for-profit trade association are working together to bring new efficiency to the air cargo industry by exploring the use of blockchain to digitally track and record the change of custody of airline cargo containers or Unit Load Devices (ULDs) across their journey.

The use of blockchain will replace redundant paper systems and is expected to save the industry US$400m a year in improved efficiency, fewer losses and prevention of damage.

The proposed platform also offers a wide range of authentication and trust-based benefits, reducing the risk of tampering, cybercrime, trade-based money laundering, fraud, and illicit trade.

SITA, ULD Care Explore Use of Blockchain To Track ULDs
Roger Nakouzi, Vice President Sales, Western, Central Africa and the Gulf at SITA

Roger Nakouzi, Vice President Sales, Western, Central Africa and the Gulf at SITA, says, “Technology will be vital in connecting our industry and driving new technology, particularly during these times of economic uncertainty. We at SITA want to support the air cargo industry in its mission to upgrade capabilities, by exploring the use of blockchain to digitally track and record the change of custody of airline cargo containers or Unit Load Devices (ULDs) across their journey. By eliminating inefficiency, embedding always-on tracking of ULDs and abandoning redundant paper systems, this tracking of ULDs will lead to improved efficiency, fewer losses and prevention of damage. Implementing such blockchain technology would also have far-reaching trust-based benefits, reducing the risk of tampering, cybercrime, trade-based money laundering, fraud, and illicit trade.”

Bob Rogers, Vice President and Treasurer, ULD Care, says: “Air cargo represents only 1% of all global trade in terms of volume but accounts for 35% of the total trade value and the inefficiency is significant. A container travelling from Shanghai to Long Beach could take up to 30 days to finish its journey, but the true travel time on sea or road is only around 15 days, with the remaining time spent on back-office and paperwork. The use of blockchain could revolutionize that process.”

Today more than 800 million ULDs are in use by airlines yet the system used to track these ULDs has only been partially digitalised and relies on incomplete data sharing and record-keeping.

Proposed Blockchain System

  • It will provide a platform that aggregates and processes the ULD data in a trusted and secure way.
  • The PoC will extend and upgrade the current ULD interlining platform to include non-airline third parties such as ground handlers via open APIs and a new modern interface.
  • The results will transform the industry by lifting the veil on a myriad of previously unknown factors like damage reports.
  • Knowing the location of all ULD’s (and therefore cargo) at all times means companies can accurately track where loss or damage occurs and recover the costs without dispute.
  • For any given shipment there can be up to 12 custodian companies monitoring and tracking the cargo, with many relying on paper documents making the process cumbersome and undermined by trust and transparency issues.
  • Blockchain presents a near-perfect solution to address these industry pain points with huge time and cost-saving potential.
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