Tesla is using blockchain technology to speed up the import process in China. In April, CargoSmart, a blockchain-based logistics provider, shared the news that Tesla, the Shanghai International Port Group, and the Chinese cargo ship operator COSCO had tested a blockchain app in order to shorten the cargo release time. This made it easier for Tesla’s logistics teams to take ownership of the goods once they were offloaded.
CargoSmart noted that the pilot was conducted in December and it used blockchain technology to share relevant shipping data and documentation with Tesla and other concerned parties. This enabled access to a shared data source that streamlined the process and helped Tesla “accelerate its cargo pick up procedures on a trusted and secured platform.”
COSCO’s General Manager of Business Process & System Division, Wu Yu, said that the pilot “showcased significant efficiency gains not only in the cargo release process but also for downstream supply chain planning by presenting a single source of truth for documentation for all involved parties.”
There isn’t any information about the type of blockchain that was used, or on the type of goods Tesla imported into China using this app. It’s also unclear as to whether or not Tesla plans to continue using the blockchain technology to import goods into China, or anywhere else.
Understanding Blockchain Technology
New to blockchain technology? Here’s some highly recommended reading: Blockchain — An Innovation Enabler for Clean Technology. But I’ll intro it quickly below, too.
You have probably heard of Bitcoin, and the average person may confuse one with the other, but they’re not the same thing. Think of an ATM machine. It dispenses cash, but it isn’t cash.
A blockchain is a peer-to-peer system that has no central authority that manages data flow. This is possible with a large distributed network of independent users — computers making up the network are in multiple locations. One may use a blockchain to create a digital ledger of data and share it with a network.
There are three types of blockchains — Public (think Bitcoin), Permissioned (think Ripple), and Private (which has closely controlled membership). All three use cryptography to allow every participant on any network to manage the ledger securely with no need for a central authority to enforce the rules.
How Tesla Could Benefit
Importing goods into any country requires a lot of paperwork and is a time-sensitive process. You need to claim your goods quickly. A blockchain-based app could provide a secure method for Tesla or any other company that is importing goods to safely and quickly import them.
Hopefully this pilot that Tesla participated in has helped create easier, quicker, and more secure ways of importing goods.