17 tonnes of almonds grown in regional Victoria have been transported to Hamburg, Germany as part of a blockchain trial between Commonwealth Bank and five Australian and international supply chain companies.

The process used the distributed ledger technology, smart contracts and the internet of things (IoT) to track the shipment from packer to end delivery in parallel to existing processes.

The platform digitises three key areas of global trade – operations, documentation and finance – by housing the container information, completion of tasks and shipping documents, on a purpose-built blockchain, CommBank said.

As part of the experiment, CommBank partnered with global agriculture player Olam Orchards Australia, Pacific National for rail haulage, port landlord Port of Melbourne, stevedore Patrick Terminals and shipping carrier OOCL Limited. Hardware and software support was provided by Australian IoT provider LX Group to ship the almonds from Mildura to the global hub of Hamburg.

Previously the five separate companies worked independently. However the blockchain experiment allowed them to view and track the location of the shipment as well as view the conditions, such as temperature and humidity inside the container, via four IoT devices.

According to the bank, this level of data provided partners in the supply chain with a greater level of transparency and efficiency regarding the location, condition and authentication of the goods being transported.

The CBA said its platform will be set up on a private blockchain, a network of known and trusted parties, meaning that only participants who are authorised can access information.

“Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers,” a spokesperson for CommBank said.

Emma Roberts supply chain manager, Olam Orchards Australia said the project has shown that increased transparency can be achieved through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain.

“Trade inefficiency can be extremely detrimental to our business. It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform,” she said.

At the documentation layer, the blockchain-enabled supply chain allows partners to upload and access key documents, such as bill of lading, certificates of origin and other documents required by customs, which streamlined these processes.

Melissa Poon, General Manager for Trade and Development at the Port of Melbourne, said: “Emerging blockchain technology creates the potential for multi-beneficial productivity gains to Australia’s supply-chain. Through understanding volume loads and shipments coming down the supply chain, we are able to prepare strategies to meet the trade demands of the future. We are excited to be involved in such a ground-breaking project.”

The project is part of CommBank’s wider blockchain. Speaking at a conference in Sydney late last year, CommBank’s head of blockchain Sophie Gilder said the bank had already completed 25 proof of concepts applying blockchain technology to real world business problems.

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