Associated British Ports (ABP) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Marine Transport International (MTI) to develop a pilot programme that will explore the use of blockchain technology to improve port connectivity.

The programme will cover ABP’s 21 ports across the UK, which together handles 25% of the country’s seaborne cargo.

As part of the deal, ABP is expected to employ MTI’s blockchain solution in pilot shipments.

“This MoU with MTI is a demonstration of our commitment to technical innovation and finding new ways to improve the UK’s supply chains.”

Parties involved in a supply chain, starting from shipper to haulier and from port operator to carrier, currently use different systems, leading to a gap in effective communication among the parties.

MTI’s blockchain technology will be used to securely integrate different ways of working and could enable the silos to reduce time spent on manually re-entering data.

ABP commercial director Jens Skibsted Nielsen said: “We handle almost 100Mt of cargo across all sectors every year so we are a significant gateway for our customers’ supply chains.

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“This MoU with MTI is a demonstration of our commitment to technical innovation and finding new ways to improve the UK’s supply chains.”

ABP also intends to deploy enterprise-level solutions quickly and securely to its customers leveraging the new deal.

MTI founder and CEO Jody Cleworth said: “Blockchain is the buzzword of the logistics industry at the moment.

“Yet some of the projects making a big splash are blockchain in name only. Blockchain-enabled technology has the potential to provide a transparent, secure and accurate way of capturing and sharing data with key parties, but for MTI the critical part is interoperability – it has to be able to openly connect with existing systems.

“The logistics industry is awash with proprietary technology that forces users to work in a certain way – with blockchain, we can connect all those systems to ensure data is accurately and quickly shared, helping speed-up and simplify the flow of trade in and out of the UK.”

MTI primarily provides digital logistics solutions that enable customers to control their cargo worldwide.