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Blockchain Solution Employs NFC for Supply Chain Accountability

ShipChain and GTX are partnering to offer a solution that captures supply chain data throughout perishable goods' journey from manufacturer to consumer, with a goal of boosting visibility and trust.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 13, 2019

Logistics solution company ShipChain has teamed up with GTX Corp. to provide a blockchain-based solution leveraging Near Field Communication (NFC)-based sensor data to capture, manage and share conditions throughout the supply chain. The solution consists of ShipChain's software using GTX's NFC smart tags with built-in temperature sensors.

ShipChain offers a blockchain-based ship-and-trace software platform for its customers, which include food and pharmaceutical companies. Since its launch in 2017, the company's universal visibility platform has focused on supply chain data, says John Monarch, ShipChain's CEO. The goal, he says, is to insert visibility and subsequent accountability into the supply chain so that companies and consumers can each have trust in what happens as goods travel to customers.

The system initially provided vehicle tracking via GPS so that users would have data indicating where the vehicles, as well as the products contained within, were located along the supply chain. The software is being piloted by food companies. The challenge for supply chain members, Monarch explains, is knowing what took place at each stage of a product's shipment. "There are often supply chain issues at every point where there's a handshake," he says, as goods transfer from one party to another.

ShipChain's software aims to enable users to capture a permanent record that can be trusted by all parties. The firm is now taking that offering a step further, Monarch says, with its partnership with GTX. The two companies began working together in the spring of 2019. "Temperature has always been a goal of ours," he states.

GTX provides sensor technology for asset and personnel tracking, predominantly using GPS-based data to capture the locations of goods and individuals. It began using NFC following the release of such functionality in iOS devices from Apple, says Patrick Bertagna, GTX's CEO and chairman. The company then started building NFC tags that could be made in volumes of hundreds or thousands, according to the form factor of a customer's specific needs.

In recent years, Bertagna says, customers had asked about blockchain-based solutions, which made a partnership with ShipChain a good idea. "We didn't want to go into blockchain software development," he recalls, adding, "This truly highlights the advantage of partnering," since ShipChain provides the software required, with a secure, immutable record of each NFC tag read. Both companies can sell the full solution to customers. The focus is on the perishable food market, health care, pharmaceuticals, live organs and cannabis, to name a few.

GTX is currently piloting its NFC temperature sensor tags with Camanchaca, a fish company that imports hundreds of thousands of pounds of seafood out of Chile into ports in Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle. By applying a tag to each crate of fish, then reading all of those tags at various points in the supply chain, Camanchaca is gaining visibility into the conditions to which the meat is exposed before reaching a store, and it is able to provide that information to its customers.

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