Grant Steinfeld
Jan 28 · 2 min read
Ship in dry dock for yearly inspection by specialized instrumentation.

I am a developer advocate at IBM specializing in blockchain, and I recently spoke to a good friend whom is also a surveyor for the Maritime division of a global assurance company. Assurance companies underwrite risk and ensure safety of materials and heavy equipment and vessels like ships. He was curious about blockchain technology and how it can make his job more efficient and understand the current activity and research around blockchain going on at his Company.

Currently he needs to evaluate ships and their constituent parts with respect to their integrity for the safety of the vessel and its occupants. This task is complex and time consuming. Records are often incorrectly entered in multiple log books and electronic systems.

Typically inspection is visual as well as based on other scientific processes like ultrasound and electron microscopy. If a part appears damaged he needs to follow a time consuming and often convoluted trail of paper and electronic records of that part’s maintenance, installation and manufacturer.

We talked about how blockchain could help is this scenario?

The promise of say a private permissioned blockchain such as Hyperledger Fabric or one of our IBM Cloud Blockchain code patterns could potentially help improve this process. This use case could also implement other blockchain solutions, say, for example, VeChain.

If all events in the acquisition, installation, maintenance and inspection of the parts are committed to the blockchain, the following key benefits would be gained:

  1. As the ledger is distributed to all parties, then access to the history of the parts would be immediately visible and quickly accessible. Saving time looking up records would allow for more time for him to perform his job as inspector and engineer.
  2. Events are entered into the ledger once as a single source of truth as to what happened, by whom and when. This not only prevents out of date data, but also improves it’s accuracy and provides a tamper-proof, immutable audit trail.
  3. Only vetted participants can join the blockchain. Typically a quality assurance / certification materials and components officer goes out to visit factories and repair facilities to confirm use of industry standards and high quality materials are used.
  4. Not only the parts themselves can be stored on the chain, but also the contractors and manufactures reputation, associations and credentials and qualifications. This would also help streamline the process.

Essentially, blockchain could provide the transparent, immutable, distributed records about the provenance and life cycle of the essential components that contribute to the fitness, safety and efficient operation of ships.

To learn more about some of the other work IBM is doing in blockchain, visit the site IBM Blockchain.

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Grant Steinfeld

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Grant is a Developer Advocate at IBM, specializing in Blockchain, NodeJS and Java. An accomplished and innovative senior Software Architect and Engineer, he is

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