Walmart Canada IoT-blockchain system nearly eliminates shipping discrepancies


The retail giant said the DL Freight supply chain invoice and payment platform is managing 500,000 carrier shipments annually.

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Walmart Canada says its deployment of what it calls “the world’s biggest industrial IoT/blockchain roll-out” has reduced shipping discrepancies by 97%. The retailer is using the DL Freight supply chain invoice and payment platform.

The platform automates all transactions and data points using GPS and IoT to track everything, including checking truck refrigeration temperatures for food shipments, said Walmart Canada, one of the country’s largest employers.

The freight and logistics industries are plagued with high administrative costs, lengthy payment delays, and costly invoice reconciliation, said Walmart Canada, which operates more than 400 stores serving more than 1.5 million customers a day. There are overpayments, underpayments, and nonpayments; the one thing all parties can agree on is that there are delayed payments.

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DLS Labs’ DL Freight platform is now managing 500,000 carrier shipments annually between Walmart and its suppliers, Walmart Canada said.

“The essential service of moving a massive quantity of goods, many of which are perishable, across borders, time zones and different climates, is an enormous operational challenge,” the retailer said in a statement. “The information, particularly costs and charges, have historically been extremely difficult to calculate. Despite good intentions, there are often vastly different understandings and dueling calculations, over the amounts due under invoices.”

One common, pervasive issue is the discrepancies over variable costs, or accessorial charges, Walmart Canada said.

“For example, each of the 500,000 loads at Walmart Canada requires tracking over 200 data points from diverse and often conflicting sources and systems, simply to prepare, or check, an invoice,” the retailer said. “Compounding this complexity, service providers each have their own information systems, business practices, and networks. Understandably, there were serious reconciliation challenges and complications.”

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The DL Freight platform automatically captures all applicable information from each carrier, IoT devices, and Walmart Canada in real time. The information is shared and synchronized on a single distributed ledger, which is visible only to the parties involved in the transaction, the two companies said.

Instead of trying to change legacy systems or business practices, the platform captures the information generated by each party. Previously, there were concerns over multiple records and reconciliation, and now there is a single, unified source of information–referred to as the single source of truth, Walmart Canada said.

The platform also automatically and continuously performs all necessary fintech calculations, while also providing automated checks and balances including, for example, using the integrity of objective IoT data, according to the retailer.

The process is now managed from start to finish, and all parties have full visibility. “In fact, the shipping charges due at any point in time during a delivery can be accurately assessed,” Walmart Canada said.

“The biggest change for Walmart Canada since using DL Freight is the reduction in manual work to resolve disputes,” said John Bayliss, senior vice president of logistics and supply chain at Walmart Canada, in a statement. “The cost and the waste associated with chasing dispute resolution has come down dramatically from over 70% disputes of our invoices at peak times to under 2% … We are seeing the proof of the waste that can be wrung out of the system.”

“The invoice disputes that are prevalent throughout supply chains are a pure and unmitigated waste of valuable resources, which DL Freight solves,” added Loudon Owen, CEO of DLT Labs, in a statement. 

The implementation has been selected as one of six finalists for the Council for Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Supply Chain Innovation Award.

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