Maersk, IBM open blockchain platform to world as they seek additional partners

The world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, says its blockchain platform is a go for wider use. ( Photo: Maersk )

Blockchain project moves from drawing board to wider use as platform already captured 154 million data events

Maersk and IBM said today their blockchain bid for the transportation industry is live with some 90 organizations planning to participate.
After announcing the joint project eight months ago, the world’s largest shipping company and information technology giant the new blockchain platform, TradeLens, has captured more than 154 million events. 
TradeLens aims “to promote more efficient and secure global trade, bringing together various parties to support information sharing and transparency, and spur industry-wide innovation.” 
The announcement also includes a host of other shippers, terminal owners, freight forwarders and customs authorities that will be using the TradeLens, which it says is built on open standards. 
Among other shipping participants are Pacific International Lines and Hamburg Sud. Maersk’s own APM Terminals subsidiary will also be using the TradeLens platform, along with other terminal operators, representing a total of 234 marine gateways. 
Freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies including Agility, CEVA Logistics, DAMCO, Kotahi, PLH Trucking Company, Ancotrans and WorldWide Alliance are also currently participating.
TradeLens allows the participants to establish “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 ad shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight,” the company said in a release.
Trade documents are available under a beta program called ClearWay, allows customs brokers and government agencies to collaborate in cross-organizational business processes and information exchanges, all backed by a secure, non-repudiable audit trail.
Maersk and IBM said one TradeLens trial reduced the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States by 40%. 
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. 
“We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitizing global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves four trillion dollars of goods every year,” Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain. “
IBM and Maersk are now soliciting additional partners for the project through standards discussions with and work to align the TradeLens APIs with UN/CEFACT standards is in progress. 
The TradeLens APIs are open and available for developer access and feedback from participants in the platform. 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.

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.