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Efforts to migrate logistics companies towards blockchain systems are increasing, with Maersk and IBM’s collaborative effort having recruited 94 organisations.
The joint-venture was yesterday given its first public airing, when the shipping and IT giants formally launched TradeLens.
Tradelens leader for Maersk Mike White said: “Our joint collaboration model allows us to better address key feedback from ecosystem participants.
“Ensuring TradeLens interoperability and data protection among Maersk, IBM and all ecosystem participants, we strongly believe will maximise industry adoption.”
Among those participating are more than 20 port and terminal operations, including Antwerp, Bilbao, Halifax and Hong Kong, as well as Maersk’s own APM Terminals network.
Forwarders include Agility, Ceva and Maersk sister operator Damco, with Ceva Logistics chief investment officer Christophe Cachat describing it as an “important step”.
He added: “We see a unique opportunity in TradeLens, joining forces to promote global standards around an open and neutral solution, delivering the promise of blockchain.
“It is an important step in our relentless journey to deliver increased value to all our customers and making business flow.”
TradeLens uses blockchain technology to provide a platform for multiple partners by establishing a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.
During a 12-month trial, IBM and Maersk worked with various partners, identifying ways to prevent delays caused by, among other things, documentation errorsand information delays.
“One example showed TradeLens reducing the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the US by 40%, saving thousands of dollars,” it said.
“Some participants estimate they can reduce the steps taken to answer operational questions such as ‘where’s my container?’ from 10 steps to one.”
More than 154 million events have been captured on the platform, including arrival times and container “gate-in”, and documents such as customs releases, invoices and bills of lading.
However, Lars Jensen, CEO of SeaIntelliegnce Consulting, questioned whether the lack of carriers joining the scheme – so far only PIL has signed up – may cause it to falter.
“If one was to be a pessimist, it could be argued that Maersk and IBM have now spent more than half a year to get stakeholders onboard,” he said. “Apart from PIL, they’ve yet to succeed in doing so.
“Although, one could argue, carriers might not necessarily need to jump into bed directly with TradeLens.”