Warren Buffett's BNSF joins BiTA, looks to set technology standards of future

BNSF Railway Co, a unit of the billionaire's conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, on Monday said it has become the first major U.S. railroad to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance

Marcus Zallman
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BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) recently became the first Class I railroad to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance(BiTA). BiTA is comprised of more than 200 freight transportation companies working to develop blockchain standards for the logistics industry and the supply chain as a whole.

Among its members are shippers FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service IncBridgestone Corp, SAP SE, United Parcel Service Inc, Schneider National Inc, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc, Worldwide Express and some banks and brokers, according to the alliance’s website.

“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,” said Muru Murugappan, BNSF vice president of technology services and chief information officer. “We are excited to help drive those standards forward as a member of BiTA.”

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.

Blockchain is the technology behind bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that makes national headlines daily as its rises and falls in market value. Industries, like logistics, have been examining what uses blockchain could have in other applications.

Blockchain functions as a distributed ledger, wherein all members of a particular blockchain have access to all the data within it. By housing information with each member, altering the information within a blockchain is difficult – requiring 51 percent of the blockchain’s participants to approve the change.

“BNSF is one of the most important members of the North American transportation network, providing the backbone of American commerce. Their embracement of technology standards for the future of the industry will have a profound impact on the future of customer supply chains,” said Craig Fuller, managing director, BiTA.

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

BiTA was formed by experienced tech and transportation executives to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. BiTA’s goal is to bring together leading companies in the freight technology industries that have a vested interest in the development of blockchain technology.