Inspirational conference: “Why Blockchain and its applications in the supply chain” by Robert Ballart

Within the framework of the programme of activities of the Open Innovation Cycle 2021 of Som-Inn Port, Innovation Ecosystem of the Port of Tarragona, on 25 November, we held a new inspirational conference, in online format, with the title: “Why Blockchain and its applications to the supply chain”.

The talk was given by Robert Ballart, Sales and Channel Manager at Vottun. Robert Ballart has more than 20 years of experience in the IT Channel leading teams and developing business (sales and marketing) in B2B areas.
Vottun is a startup that offers traceability and certification solutions using Blockchain technology.

What is Blockchain technology?

The speaker started by explaining what Blockchain technology is and its characteristics. The Blockchain is used as a certification technology, its main advantage is that the data that enters a Blockchain circuit is impossible to falsify. This is why it is a technology that can be used for many purposes and is applicable to many fields. The Blockchain is a distributed and decentralized technology, there isn’t single a owner of the information. All transactions are immutably recorded, making it easy to obtain a detailed history of transactions. Hashing and/or cryptography is used, which allows the information to be filled in a secure, chronological and block-forming way.
The speaker also talked about 3 types of Blockchain:

  • Public: The great advantage is that it is totally transparent. Anyone can participate and become a node. In addition, the identity of the participants is anonymous. Fully and thus, it lacks speed and scalability.
  • Private: Certificates require permissions to enter here and the identity of the participants is known. The big advantage is that it is very fast and scalable.
  • Federations or consortia: Several private companies are in charge of the network. As in the case of the private ones, there are also entry requirements and the identity of the participants is known.


The main benefit of this technology is its ability to simplify procedures, which translates into a reduction of information consultation and consolidation process costs. Speeding up the activity improves the competitiveness and efficiency of the companies that use it. Moreover, it eliminates the risk of falsifications and errors by providing a single, true source of information agreed by all parties.

Blockchain Applications in the Port Industry

Robert Ballart has reflected on how Blockchain can help on moving from a Shipper-Centric model to a Network model. Blockchain technology applied to the port industry promotes connecting the ecosystem, boosting information exchange, fostering collaborations and trust, and stimulating innovation among all actors.

In recent years, platforms have been generated that have speeded up unboarding processes, and are also enabling transactions with perishable goods, making customs clearance processes and administrative issues with the export and import of goods smoother.


Case studies that could be applicable to the port world

Finally, Robert Ballart presented 3 case studies that could also be applicable to the port world. Firstly, he presented the case of the Galician company Caladero. The implementation of Vottun’s Blockchain technology has enabled Caladero to offer its customers transparency in terms of origin, ingredients, raw material suppliers, transport details, processes to which it has been subjected as well as the manner and timing in which the products have been delivered.

Secondly, he presented the case of the company Naturgy. This company needed to verify the credentials of the technicians to whom it contracted a service. This type of documentation is easy to falsify. Thanks to the application of  Blockchain in this process, it has been possible to verify the certifications of the professionals and have real-time control.

It has also allowed Naturgy to replace physical cards for digital ones that are impossible to falsify.

With AENA, in addition to validating the credentials of the people who perform certain services, it has begun to verify that the actions carried out by these people have been managed correctly.

Lastly, he presented the case of Nedgia. In this project, the solution provided by Vottun has enabled the management of SLAs between Nedgia and subcontracted companies to be managed through Smart Contracts. Through the implementation of the Blockchain in this process, it has been possible to automate the bonuses/penalties agreed in the contracts between Nedgia and subcontracted companies. This has reduced the incident management time and has made it possible to identify the subcontractors with whom the quality of service has improved.

Finally, in the question and answer session, Robert Ballart outlined the biggest challenges to be faced when implementing Blockchain technology. Firstly, it must be understood that not everything is subject to this type of technology, which makes it clear that there is a general lack of knowledge about the Blockchain. Secondly, it is sometimes difficult to understand that it is a scalable technology.

Many thanks to Robert Ballart for sharing with Som-Inn Port his experience, his knowledge about Blockchain and its possible applications in the port industry, and to all the people who joined us today in this enriching session.

We will meet again in the next activity!

3 December 2021

Research and Innovation Department

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