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Carrefour mise sur la blockchain pour optimiser sa chaîne logistique

Comment assurer une traçabilité sans couture de la chaîne logistique ? La question est des plus épineuses pour les grands retailers dont la supply chain peut faire intervenir des centaines d'acteurs : producteurs, grossistes, transporteurs, entrepôts, etc. La problématique n'échappe pas au numéro 1 européen du secteur.

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Carrefour relies on blockchain to optimize its supply chain

How to ensure a seamless traceability of the supply chain? The question is difficult for large retailers whose supply chain can involve hundreds of actors: producers, wholesalers, carriers, warehouses, etc. The issue is clear for the number 1 European of the sector. Like its competitors, Carrefour is confronted with a very complex logistical environment generating a number of hazards: delays due to saturation of vehicle flows at warehouse entrances, truck routing errors, badly closed refrigerated doors (leading to breaks in the cold chain), theft of goods ...

To meet this challenge, Carrefour has decided to turn a few months ago to a French start-up: visible.digital. Its offer ? A platform based on a chain of blocks, cut to trace flows from one end of the supply chain to the other.

At the beginning of the summer, the brand launches a first experimentation of the solution on its Salon de Provence site. Registering a truck departure every 90 seconds in high season, it is its main logistics platform in France. No less than 38 carriers transit each week. "It's a site that we have trouble managing because of the very high density of the flows, the trucks spend a lot of time waiting at the guardhouse, looking for the right dock door," says Estelle Piot, chief innovation project at Carrefour.

A deployment started

Covering about sixty trips, the test gives Carrefour first visibility on these flows. "The initial use case is simple but powerful: if a transport's travel time exceeds the target, the tool saves all the details, which then allows us to make optimizations and know who is responsible for the delay », says Estelle Piot.

With this first step, Carrefour is currently launching the implementation of the environment with a leading producer (still on its Salon de Provence site). A number of volunteer carriers are also welcomed in the loop as well as a sample of stores in order to cover the entire chain. As part of the project, the group intends to evolve towards real-time control. With each problem detected, the idea is to send alerts to the field staff and to automatically reconfigure the workflow to take into account the hazard." If the truck is positioned on a wrong dock for example, the driver will be notified, and the app will give him instructions on where to go," explains Estelle Piot. Here, visible.digital leverages Salesforce myIoT to orchestrate the process in regards of the context and manage the gaps with the expected behavior.

"Carrefour helped us build our technology, it was our very first customer," says Sébastien Lemoine, Founder and Executive Chairman of visible.digital. "This co-creation project lasted about six months, then we put the solution in the hands of internal logistics users of the group to refine." The specificity of Carrefour is to have chosen to share a lot of information with all involved actors in order to promote collaborative problem management."

"The initial use case is simple but powerful: if the travel time of a transport exceeds the target, the tool saves all the details"

Under the hood, the offer of visible.digital revolves around a private blockchain through which each link in the supply chain stores the traceability data on its own register. "If necessary, we can also involve a trusted third party to certify the process," says Sébastien Lemoine. Hosted on Microsoft's Azure cloud, each registry is isolated in a Docker container. Downstream, a Platform as a Service (PaaS), based on Salesforce's Heroku cloud, allows the various IoT operators to share their data (vehicle geolocation, truck temperatures, detection of door openings, etc.) and sell them at the same time.

To collect information from the equipment, PTC's IoT platform (aka ThingWorx) enters the dance. Through APIs, visible.digital's PaaS also connects to the Transport Management (TMS) and Warehouse Management (WMS) systems of the various actors in the running. "It is also a real added value for carriers who will get a vision on their drivers' travel times, unplanned breaks, etc.," added Sébastien Lemoine.

Towards BtoC services

The start-up prices its offer to all players in the supply chain (not just retailers) in the form of a monthly or yearly subscription. "Knowing that everyone can find benefits in terms of operational supervision," promises Sebastien Lemoine, before confiding: "By the end of 2018, we plan to launch a BtoC application to allow retailers to distribute their traceability data to their customers end. "

With 20 employees, visible.digital has raised 1 million euros since its creation at the end of 2016. Located in Puteaux in the Paris suburbs, the company is present in Italy, Spain, Singapore and Vietnam. It plans to open an office in the United States in early 2018. Alongside Carrefour, the young company claims to have signed with other major French retailers.

Independent translation by visible.digital

Aliments : avec la blockchain, tout se transforme mais rien ne se perd

La blockchain ne concerne pas que le bitcoin et la finance. La grande distribution travaille aussi sur cette technologie, qui permet de stocker des données de manière transparente et sécurisée. "Nous avons toujours eu des cahiers des charges stricts sur la traçabilité et l'origine des produits de nos fournisseurs.


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Food: with the blockchain, everything is transformed but nothing is lost

Casino, Carrefour, Walmart ... Large retailers adopt the blockchain for the products’ traceability. A progress that will eventually improve the management of food scandals.

Blockchain is not just about bitcoin and finance. Retailers are also working on this technology, which allows data to be stored transparently and securely. "We have always had strict specifications on the traceability and the origin of the products of our suppliers.In case of food crisis, the blockchain will bring an additional guarantee thanks to the unfalsifiable information taken in real time by all the actors of the distribution chain ", summarizes Virginie Robert, director of innovation of the Casino group who organized a hackathon at Ecole 42 on this subject last February and launched various tests in partnership with start-ups in 2017.

Other large retailers also phosphor on the blockchain. In the United States, Walmart announced a partnership with IBM in December 2017 for food traceability. In France, Carrefour launched on March 6, 2018 its first blockchain on a chain of farm chickens in Auvergne, selling a million units per year, according to Les Echos. The goal: to provide customers with the maximum information on the products of its "quality channels" via QR codes containing all the information of the blockchain. The distributor wants to extend this mechanism to 8 other sectors of this type by 2018. In China, the juggernaut of e-commerce JD.com launched in late February a dedicated start-up accelerator. And in early March Alibaba signed a partnership with Cainiao to adopt the blockchain in its cross-border logistics.

Carrefour launched its blockchain on a chain of farm chickens.

These are just beginnings but some retailers see real potential. The blockchain could notably facilitate the management of food scandals. Infant milk contaminated with salmonella this winter, eggs containing fipronil last summer, chickens with dioxin in 1999 ... Each time, contaminated products remain difficult to remember for the whole distribution chain: where are the lots concerned? Who is responsible ? "Delays during which consumers sometimes continue to buy products dangerous to their health", regrets Gregory Nain, co-founder of Tagsparency, a Luxembourg start-up of the sector. These reminders also have an economic cost and sometimes judicial consequences. They also destroy consumer confidence.

"The blockchain will not prevent these scandals, but it will allow the actors to demonstrate that they had the right attitude on the traceability", promises Brendan Smyth, development director of Arc-net, a British start-up that counts among its customers a large retailer in the UK, who does not wish to communicate yet. How? Simply because the blockchain will gather data. Data provided by the producers (origins of the product, batch numbers, compositions, labels, expiry dates, pesticide or GMO content, name and location of the producer) and data provided by the carriers and retailers (temperature, humidity or geolocation). "Our blockchain records all the parameters that can influence the integrity of the product.This technology has really emerged thanks to the cloud and IoT platforms that can ingest a huge amount of data in real time," puts in perspective Sébastien Lemoine, founder and executive chairman of visible.digital, a French start-up partner of Carrefour.

The blockchain will also act before disasters. "Most of the solutions are moving towards simple food traceability, that is to follow the product to go back to the origin in case of a problem." We consider that we must act before and compare in real time the data to the specifications thanks to the artificial intelligence ", shades Stefano Volpi, co-founder of Connecting-food, a startup partner of two major French distributors who also wish to remain discreet.

"Retailers are now analyzing these new opportunities, but I do not yet see the blockchain spread quickly," Sébastien Lemoine predicts. The brakes are indeed multiple. First of all, the paper format, which is not very transparent, is still very much used throughout the distribution chain. Then, it is difficult to publish all this sensitive information in a public blockchain, that is to say accessible to all. This explains why distributors are rather oriented towards a private blockchain, between actors concerned.

But start-ups see this another way. "We hope to become a label, and our integrity as a technological company will make us a reference in traceability," says Sébastien Lemoine. That is why visible.digital will propose, with the agreement of the retailers, to open its platform to the end consumers during 2018. It is to accompany the retailers who wish to communicate on the traceability of their products. This will include QR codes printable by producers and distributors, as proposed by Carrefour now. Today, these QR Codes are very little used, static, poor in content and little scanned in stores. Tomorrow, customers will be able to scan them with a smartphone to obtain an individualized identity card of the product.

Some solutions envisage that the consumer participates in the blockchain

Some solutions even consider that the consumer participates in the blockchain. In case of problems (vomiting ...), he can report if he thinks he has been intoxicated. "We will wait to have a group of several reports for the same product, on a specific geographical area, to trigger an alert," says Gregory Nain, co-founder of Tagsparency. After verification, the distributor will know which lots to remove accurately. Conversely, if a retailer or producer triggers a containment plan, buyers of contaminated products will be able to scan the QR code of the product with their smartphone before eating it. The latter will indicate a message to bring back the product as soon as possible, to guarantee the health of the customers.

Independent translation by visible.digital

visible.digital: la traçabilité augmentée pour des économies tangibles

Tracer les flux, d’un bout à l’autre de la chaîne de valeur, pour éviter les gaspillages. La start-up visible.digital a développé une solution unique pour accroître l’efficacité de la logistique. «Nous faisons de la traçabilité de produits et de processus, résume Sébastien Lemoine, fondateur et président exécutif de visible.digital.

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visible.digital: increased traceability for tangible savings

The goal of the start-up, gathering data from different sources, is to avoid all losses, from the producer to the consumer through the transport, storage and distribution.

Trace flows on the complete value chain to avoid waste. The visible.digital start-up has developed a unique solution to increase the efficiency of logistics. "We are tracing products and processes," says Sébastien Lemoine, Founder and Executive Chairman of visible.digital. Our goal, based on data from different sources, is to avoid all losses, from the producer to the consumer through transportation, storage and distribution. And in the spirit of Silicon Valley, the leaders of visible.digital do not hesitate to give a messianic dimension to their activity: "The elimination of food waste would feed the planet, even in 2050."

Geolocation of vehicles, truck temperatures, detection of door openings ... all data are used. The offer is based on a private block-chain, an innovative form of "smart-contracts" through which each actor stores his data, on his own instance hosted on Microsoft's Azure cloud and isolated in a container thanks to Docker. The collection and use of information from equipment is provided by PTC's IoT platform. Sébastien Lemoine says: "We have a special relationship with PTC. They accompanied us at the beginning of the adventure, during the summer of 2016, for the first proofs of concept at Carrefour. Since then, we have been implementing a strategy of co-selling and co-marketing in a spirit of innovative partnership. "

In front office, users have access, through Salesforce, to a collaborative platform, called control tower. This client-owned ecosystem enables real-time data management, shared but secure visibility, while generating a chain of trust between stakeholders. Patrice Ravaud, vice-president of value co-creation, notes: "We connect people and existing systems, preventing our customers from having to reinvest in new systems; objects, such as warehouses, trucks, trailers or smartphones for the drivers, to cross the information and make it intelligent, intelligible and actionable. "

Improved process. The goal of the subscribers of visible.digital: to reduce their costs by an improvement of the processes, without being flooded by the data. "We are no longer in the logic where a contractor imposes on its subcontractors its traceability system," explains Sébastien Lemoine. With data sharing, the return on investment is immediate for all stakeholders; everyone wins. " And the gains are significant - a factor of 8 to 40 depending on the employment cases.

The next step for visible.digital is to bring even more benefits to its customers and consumers by leveraging the Vuforia PTC augmented reality solution. "A logistician will be able to allocate docks in dynamicly (taking context into account) when receptioning », says Patrice Ravaud.

Created in France by a team of seniors from different backgrounds, already established in Italy, Spain, Benelux, Asia and since this year in the United States, the start-up is for the moment alone in its niche. In one year, its workforce has grown from 4 to 22 people and agreements have already been signed with major players in the world of retail. With a central objective: independence, the only way to make credible a certification in the eyes of consumers.

Independent translation by visible.digital



"Un'app per allungare la vita agli alimenti". In Valsamoggia è nata visible digital : dalla Francia l'angelo custode dei furgoni frigo

Quanto sarebbe bello inventare una tecnologia in grado di monitorare i furgoni per il trasporto alimentare? Un sistema intelligente, ovvio. Che sappia dire in tempo reale ai gestori dei supermercati quante volte il portellone del mezzo frigorifero è stato aperto, per quanto tempo, quali sbalzi di temperatura ciò ha comportato, quanto sta durando il viaggio e dove è nato, dunque, l'inghippo che ogni anno fa arrivare il 40% di frutta e verdura nei punti vendita già marcita.

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How good would it be if we had a technology capable of monitoring trucks transporting food? An intelligent, clear system. A system that allows shop managers to know how many times the refrigerator’s door has been opened, for how long and what the consequences were for the goods, when and where the journey of the product started. The fact is, every year, 40% of fruits and vegetables are already rotten when they arrive at the shop. “But the amazing part is, - explains Renzo Roli, CEO at visible.digital – all this information exists, but nobody has ever exploited it so far”.

Hence the name of the startup, which comes from France and has just landed in Valsamoggia with the objective of showing the way (indeed, the data) to large retailers to avoiding food waste. Roli, at the helm here, has spent his life in Carrier, a French multionational of refrigeration vehicles and decided, once retired, to meet with former colleagues to improve the food transport system. A team of three people is covering the ground here in Italia. Amongst them, Marco Calzolari, 28, a degree in agriculture, a career as a commercial and the desire to launch headlong into this new adventure. The objective ? Change the world. For the best, of course : “We can not but consider – emphasizes Calzolari – that in 2050 the world’s food demand will be 70% more than today’s, because the population will have reached 9,1 billion people and that food wastage is no longer admissible”.

How, then ? “The point – warns Roli – is that most of refrigerated vehicles are already equipped with sensors that can monitor temperature and transport conditions in real time. What the world is missing is a platform to use this data easily, and that is why we are here”. With an app runing on any smartphone, the driver and the people waiting for the goods can monitor the trip’s conditions to adapt in real time and avoid the deterioration of the goods.

Not solutions, therefore, but tools. “A large retailer in France – Roli and Calzolari explain – is already using our system on 300 trucks, and it has allowed us to understand that most of the goods are not damaged when the truck is actually moving, but rather when the warehouse is congested and waiting times are high.” Solution? “Being able to monitor trucks in real time allowed us to give priority entry to those transporting goods most at risk to reduce waiting time and waste”. All of that with a simple app that “in the future – explains Calzolari – retailers could decide to open to consumers too, in order to have a label that shows, in addition to history and composition, the journey of the product.”

Independent translation by visible.digital

SEBASTIEN LEMOINE FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, VISIBLE.DIGITAL


Sébastien LEMOINE is the Executive Chairman and founder of visible.digital. Before that, he has been working 17 years within the United Technology Corporation (UTC) group, member of the ExCom during the last 7 years. In his last role at Carrier Transicold Truck & Trailer, a 100% subsidiary of the UTC group, he was the Product & Sustainable Development Vice President for EMEA & Russia. He is the President of the Connected Cold Commission at the French Cold Association (AFF).

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s837 - Rebalancing the World With The Chain of Trust© and The IoT: visible.digital's Innovation Story With a Large Retailer

visible.digital’s mission is to rebalance the world by enabling trustful and fair relationships with all the players of the value chain. As a starting point visible.digital is helping their customers identify and eliminate operational inefficiencies and associated costs. This is achieved with an unprecedented mix of technologies and seasoned professionals. Like the IoT is connecting things, visible.digital connects the dots between physical and digital through a smart value co-creation process...

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visible.digital at PTC Forum Europe 2017