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February 5, 2018 2:45 PM, EST
BNSF Joins Group Aiming to Use Blockchain in Freight
Ron Kroetz/Flickr

BNSF Railway Co. joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, making it the first Class 1 railroad in the organization whose mission is to develop standards for a blockchain for the logistics industry and supply chain as a whole.

BNSF, which is owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said Feb. 5 that it has joined the alliance, a group of more than 200 freight and logistics companies that are exploring how to use the digital-ledger technology in their industry.

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BNSF along with the other members of BiTA will work to define what data goes into the freight transportation blockchain, how that data is formatted, how the data is structured and in what cases blockchain would be used, according to the Fort Worth, Texas-based company. The group has already attracted companies such as UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp. (Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the Transport Topics list of the top 100 trucking companies in North America) as well as firms such as Schneider (No. 6 on the for-hire TT100).

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“Blockchain technology has the potential to change several aspects of the transportation industry and it is important that the industry comes together to align around a set of standards,” Muru Murugappan, BNSF chief information officer, said in a statement. “We are excited to help drive those standards forward as a member of BiTA.”

The transportation alliance sees it being used for everything from vehicle maintenance to fraud detection, according to a slide presentation on the group’s website.

BNSF operates about 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages.