Maersk and IBM have launched what they call the TradeLens blockchain-based freight management system in a follow up to their January announcement of an industry-wide collaboration - which is expected to be fully commercially available by the end of this year.
TradeLens is the result of a collaboration agreement between the two companies and is designed to promote more efficient and secure global trade, bringing together various parties to support information sharing and transparency, and spur industry-wide innovation.
As part of the TradeLens early adopter programme, IBM and Maersk said that 94 organisations are actively involved or have agreed to participate on the TradeLens platform, which is built on open standards. The TradeLens ecosystem currently includes:
· More than 20 port and terminal operators across the globe, including PSA Singapore, International Container Terminal Services Inc, Patrick Terminals, Modern Terminals in Hong Kong, Port of Halifax, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect, PortBase, and terminal operators Holt Logistics at the Port of Philadelphia, join the global APM Terminals' network in piloting the solution. This accounts for approximately 234 marine gateways worldwide that have or will be actively participating on TradeLens.
· Pacific International Lines (PIL) has joined Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd as global container carriers participating in the solution.
· Customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru are participating, along with customs brokers Ransa and Güler & Dinamik.
· Participation among beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) has grown to include Torre Blanca / Camposol and Umit Bisiklet.
· Freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies including Agility, CEVA Logistics, DAMCO, Kotahi, PLH Trucking Company, Ancotrans and WorldWide Alliance are also currently participating.
A statement from Maersk explained that using blockchain smart contracts, TradeLens enables digital collaboration across the multiple parties involved in international trade. The trade document module, released under a beta programme and called ClearWay, 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”.
More than 154M shipping events have been captured on the TradeLens 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. Maersk said that this data is growing at a rate of close to 1M events per day.
"TradeLens uses blockchain technology to create an industry standard for the secure digitisation and transmission of supply chain documents around the world," commented Modern Terminals chief executive Peter Levesque. "This initiative will generate tremendous savings for our industry over time while enhancing global supply chain security. Modern Terminals is pleased to participate as a network member in testing this exciting shipping industry innovation."
IBM Global Industries, solutions and blockchain senior vice president Bridget van Kralingen said "We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitising global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves US$4Trn of goods every year. However, success with the technology rests on a single factor -bringing the entire ecosystem together around a common approach that benefits all participants equally.
“Our work with Maersk and other enterprises in the shipping ecosystem has shown that blockchain can be used to form a strong, connected network in which all members gain by sharing important data and that together we can transform a vital part of how global trade is conducted."