By Liisa Rajala
Published New Hampshire Business Review: March 1st, 2019
A Nashua startup is seeking specialty food businesses to further test its cloud-hosted private blockchain solution, which the company says will bring efficiency and accountability to the supply chain. In partnership with an Internet of Things vendor, BlockSyte places a 3-inch by 1-inch tag on pallets to record in real-time humidity, air pressure, light, orientation and temperature of products enroute to major shipping hubs. In addition to monitoring a shipment in real-time, customers can also streamline key documents and smart contracts, enabling them to cancel a contract if the shipment was not delivered properly. “For high end artisanal products, that’s just not been possible before,” says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, CEO and co-founder of BlockSyte. “If you [the manufacturer] have contracted to move cheese to Manhattan and it hasn’t been transport properly, you can void the contract in real-time. It’s a radical transformation of supply chain practices. I don’t think our customers realize how accessible this technology is – that they can move from a high cost, inefficient, paper heavy loss damage dispute heavy system to a very streamlined and basically argument free system very quickly.
Pelz-Sharpe says the supply chain industry has been moving toward this level of oversight, and BlockSyte is an early player. The company has already become an official IBM Partner and communicates with the companies Food Trust division, which applies blockchain solutions to the supply chain. While IBM is focused on the large retailers, BlockSyte is focused on the network of small and medium distributors and retailers, which are important pieces of the network, says Pelz-Sharpe. “Hopefully we’re one of the conduits if not the conduit to connect those smaller links,” he says, noting retailers like Wal-Mart rely on tens of thousands of small suppliers and third-party trucking companies. “Wal-Mart has decreed that by September 2019, all green food stops, so kale, cabbage and lettuce, have to be tracked by blockchain. That’s for food safety. That’s a big hurdle for a lot of people to get over,” he says. “These are small companies with small revenues, they don’t have a large IT team.”
Northeast supply chain hub. When the company was formed last year, one of its founders suggested New York for the location. “It was me who said, ‘Why? Let’s go for New Hampshire,” says Pelz-Sharpe. “There’s tax advantages, real estate here is lower, so we know that but we really wanted to tap into the community that’s a little bit closer to the food supply chain.” Bordering Quebec and Montreal, New Hampshire is a key hub for the supply chain of the Northeast. “This is a region that’s famed for its cheeses,” says Pelz-Sharpe. “It’s really important that you have a really good eye on how it’s transported and stored. If it’s transported in a truck in 90 degree heat, it’s not going to taste too good.” And sometimes small manufacturers “can’t distribute out of limited area because they don’t have visibility or control over how those products are transported and stored.”
This article appears in the March 1 2019 issue of New Hampshire Business Review
Blocksyte, an early stage company focused on the mid-market supply chain, today announced the nationwide availability of its Version II SaaS-based blockchain application.“Blocksyte is open for business, helping mid-market food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers embrace the benefits of blockchain,” said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Blocksyte CEO and co-founder, a nationally recognized expert on blockchain.“More importantly, the easy-to-use Blocksyte application, running on our proprietary enterprise-class technology platform, is designed to help our customers run their businesses more efficiently, reduce costs, and meet the demands of supply chain partners.”The company is initially focusing on the $1.4 trillion food industry, whose recent produce recalls underscore the problems of a fragmented and technically-outdated supply chain.With industry leaders like Wal-Mart pushing their suppliers to implement blockchain applications, mid-market companies require a cost-efficient option that they can easily integrate into their existing operations while earning a quick return on their investment.
Blocksyte is operating several successful pilots of its application with customers representing different parts of the supply chain.One of these, Haverhill, Massachusetts-based CF Cold Storage, operates a 107,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse, and has experienced a measurable increase in efficiency since deploying the Blocksyte application.“By choosing Blocksyte, we gained the ability to monitor our shipments in real-time,” said Costas Flessas, Founder and President of CF Cold Storage.“The result is that we spend less time each day manually tracking items, and have reduced losses and improved our delivery times.”The Blocksyte customer dashboard displays the current and historic location of products along their route, monitors the temperature and humidity of the products, and alerts the customer when a shipment veers off its route or is otherwise disturbed, helping the customer save time and money.The Blocksyte application provides an auditable, non-disputable record of every shipment, providing mid-market customers and their clients with chain of control assurance, enabling them to go paperless and still have a secure proof of delivery (POD).
Additional features of the Blocksyte application include the ability for customers to incorporate smart contracts and electronic invoices integrated to cloud-based accounting systems and enabled by blockchain, meaning the data entered is immutable and cannot be altered, an important factor when products change hands several times as part of the typical supply chain journey.This traceability can, for example, facilitate targeted product recalls instead of cumbersome national recalls, such as happened with romaine lettuce in November 2018.Blocksyte’s technology advancements are one of the reasons the company was recently named technology runner-up in the 2018 Flatley Challenge Tech Startup Competition, held annually to recognize startups and emerging businesses in the southern New Hampshire area, a hotbed for tech startups due to the area’s highly-educated workforce and business-friendly economic environment.Added Pelz-Sharpe, “being recognized in the Flatley Challenge is a positive reinforcement of Blocksyte’s capabilities and an important milestone as we look to grow and help more customers in 2019.” - NASHUA, NH - 02/05/2019 (PRDistribution.com).
As an established trade association serving foodservice manufacturers for over 65 years, IFMA works to improve industry practices and relationships while equipping every foodservice manufacturer with the tools to navigate their future with confidence. By providing insights, developing best practices and fostering connectivity through events, we enlighten members and motivate change that leads to the betterment for the individual member organization and the industry at large.