The metropolitan shipping giant United Parcel Service (UPS) believes that blockchain technology can help simplify the logic of delivering packages over the global supply chain.
According to documents published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday, UPS on the basis of Georgia filed a patent application that uses blockchain technology and distributed registration technology (DLT) to route packets through the international supply chain, which may include several operators,
The patent application , originally filed by the UPS on February 16, explains that while logistics service providers have become quite skilled at optimizing the routing of packages to improve efficiency and minimize costs, it is still difficult to reconcile logistics for transport operations that involve several logistics services from a transport provider network.
The report quotes: “There may be scenarios in which it is advantageous for different logistics service providers to transport a shipping unit along different legs / segments from its source to its destination. However, it may be difficult to agree on the transportation of a shipment unit through various transport networks of logistics service providers. In addition, if there are special transportation requirements for transporting a shipping unit, it may be difficult to ensure that specific processing requirements are met by each of the various logistics service providers that can help transport the shipping unit.”
The UPS seeks to solve this problem using an autonomous system that, in some cases, uses an immutable block-x-book to automatically route packets across multiple networks of logistics service providers.
After the package has been scanned into a packaging object, the system will automatically select the route based on the offerings of the providers’ services related to the connection to the network. As the package is sent to the destination, shipping information will be recorded in the block registry, which will allow the system to assess whether service providers are meeting obligations on their respective service offerings.
The authors of the patents note that in some forms the system can be built to accommodate interconnected DLT networks that use smart contracts to pay for various parties in the supply chain, as they fulfill their obligations within the specific stage of shipment. If it is built on top of a network with a fixed chain, this system can even use decentralized crypto conversions, such as bitcoin or ether, to handle these value transfers.
“Accordingly, various embodiments may contain and / or use the digital currency / assets represented by entries in the book,” they write. “Such a digital currency / assets (for example, bitcoin, ether, etc.) itself can have a value that can be exchanged for different delivery units, services and / or the like.”