Two more carriers join the “blockchain-enabled” shipping platform developed by Maersk and IBM.
CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) on Tuesday announced they will join TradeLens, a “blockchain-enabled” digital shipping platform jointly developed by A.P. Møller – Maersk and IBM.
The companies said the “addition of CMA CGM and MSC will provide a significant boost to the TradeLens vision of greater trust, transparency and collaboration across supply chains to help promote global trade” and that “data for nearly half of the world’s ocean container cargo will be available on TradeLens.” Other container carriers such as Seaboard Marine, ZIM, PIL, KMTC and Namsung are users of TradeLens.
In total, there are over 100 organizations that use the platform. TradeLens said there are now more than 50 ports and terminals connected to TradeLens and more than another 30 in the process of connecting. They include PSA, APM Terminals, Modern Terminals and the Port of Halifax.
Logistics companies such as CEVA and Agility are TradeLens users, as are railroads, trucking companies and beneficial cargo owners such as Procter & Gamble. TradeLens said it has active pilots underway with eight customs agencies, including those in Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
Mike White, head of Maersk TradeLens, said other carriers are expected to join the platform this year.
“Participants in TradeLens can connect to other participants in TradeLens for shipments they are party to. It’s a permission blockchain solution,” he said.
TradeLens said each week it is processing more than 10 million discrete shipping events and over 100,000 documents updated in a secure manner.
“I see this as a significant development if TradeLens is to be successful,” said Lars Jensen, the chief executive officer of SeaIntelligence Consulting. “The value in any of the major blockchain initiatives both inside and outside shipping is the scale of adoption across many stakeholders, and this is a solid step in that direction.”
He noted this is not the only blockchain initiative in the shipping industry. Last year CargoSmart announced the formation of a consortium called the Global Shipping Business Network to connect and enable collaboration among carriers, terminals, shippers, and forwarders throughout the supply chain.Participants include ocean carriers CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen, OOCL, and Yang Ming and terminal operators DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA International Pte Ltd, and Shanghai International Port, according to the software company Oracle, which is providing technology to CargoSmart.
“It is interesting that CMA CGM is part of both,” said Jensen.
Ocean carriers have stepped up cooperation in creating common information technology standards for the shipping industry. In April, a new organization called the Digital Container Shipping Association was formed by Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express (ONE) and were quickly joined in May by CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Yang Ming and ZIM.
Standards are good for TradeLens, said White, and TradeLens is also working with other standard-setting organizations such as the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and openshipping.org.
White, formerly president of Maersk Line North America, said there is value for both carriers and other companies that are part of the shipping ecosystem in joining TradeLens as they can replace bi-lateral with a “one to many” communication system.
Better information allows carriers to optimize operations, reduce the cost of moving empty equipment and giving customers better service.
When he was head of Maersk Line North America, he said that “80 percent of our frontline staff questions were all related to the same issues” such as the status of cargo — if a shipment had arrived at a port, if it had been discharged from a ships, if it had it cleared customs.
“TradeLens provides better visibility and document-sharing capabilities in a more efficient, effective and secure manner,” said White.
Rajesh Krishnamurthy, executive vice president of IT and transformations at CMA CGM, said, “Digitization is a cornerstone of the CMA CGM Group’s strategy to provide an end-to-end offer tailored to our customers’ needs. We believe that TradeLens, with its commitment to open standards and open governance, is a key platform to help usher in this digital transformation.
“TradeLens’ network is already showing that participants from across the supply chain ecosystem can derive significant value,” Krishnamurthy said.
André Simha, chief digital and information officer for MSC, said, “Digital collaboration is a key to the evolution of the container shipping industry. The TradeLens platform has enormous potential to spur the industry to digitize the supply chain and build collaboration around common standards. We think that the TradeLens Advisory Board, as well as standards bodies such as the Digital Container Shipping Association, will help accelerate that effort.”
TradeLens said beneficial cargo owners will benefit from the addition of more carriers onto the platform.
Michelle Eggers, director of global logistics purchases at Procter & Gamble, said, “We are convinced that the industry will benefit from the transparency and accuracy of blockchain solutions and we are pleased to see MSC, CMA CGM and Maersk all on the TradeLens platform. We have been testing TradeLens for the P&G business and see potential as the solution scales. We look forward to industry-wide adoption to benefit all network members.”