Maersk, IBM creat blockchain for shipping
10 August 2018
A.P. Moller-Maersk and IBM on Thursday announced the creation of TradeLens, jointly developed by the two companies to apply blockchain to the world's global supply chain to promote more efficient and secure global trade, bringing together various parties to support information sharing and transparency.
The two companies said that 94 organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate on the TradeLens platform built on open standards. TradeLens uses IBM Blockchain technology as the foundation for digital supply chains, empowering multiple trading partners to collaborate by establishing a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.
Shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities can interact more efficiently through real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight.
Using blockchain smart contracts, TradeLens enables digital collaboration across the multiple parties involved in international trade. The trade document module, called ClearWay and released under a beta program, enables importers / exporters, customs brokers, trusted third parties such as customs, other government agencies, and NGOs to collaborate in cross-organisational business processes and information exchanges, all backed by a secure, non-repudiable audit trail.
During the 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM worked to identify opportunities to prevent delays caused by documentation errors, information delays, and other impediments. One example demonstrated how TradeLens can reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States by 40 per cent, avoiding thousands of dollars in cost. Through better visibility and more efficient means of communicating, some supply chain participants estimate they could reduce the steps taken to answer basic operational questions such as "where is my container" from 10 steps and five people to, with TradeLens, one step and one person.
More than 154 million shipping events have been captured on the platform, including data such as arrival times of vessels and container "gate-in", and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices and bills of lading. This data is growing at a rate of close to one million events per day. Traditionally, some of this data can be shared through the EDI systems commonly used in the supply chain industry but these systems are inflexible, complex, and can't share data in real-time. Too often, companies must still share documents via email attachment, fax and courier. TradeLens can track critical data about every shipment in a supply chain, and offers an immutable record among all parties involved.
The TradeLens solution is available today through the Early Adopter Program. TradeLens is expected to be fully commercially available by the end of this year.