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Maersk and IBM launch blockchain platform Featured

A.P. Moller-Maersk and IBM have announced the launch of their new blockchain venture TradeLens, following on from the companies’ January announcement of their intention to work together to leverage blockchain technologies to improve the efficiency of the global supply chain.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Based on feedback gathered since that January statement the companies have modified their go to market model and will now deliver the system through an extension of their pre-existing collaboration agreement, instead of creating a joint venture as was originally announced. TradeLens is expected to be fully commercially available by the end of this year.

“Our joint collaboration model allows us to better address key feedback from ecosystem participants while ensuring TradeLens interoperability and data protection among Maersk, IBM and all ecosystem participants. We strongly believe this will maximise industry adoption,” said Mike White, TradeLens leader for Maersk.

TradeLens uses IBM blockchain technology to create ‘digital supply chains’, allowing multiple trading partners to access a single shared view of a transaction without compromising privacy or confidentiality, and giving stakeholders real-time access to shipping data and documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight.

The platform incorporates blockchain smart contracts to underpin its trade document module, released under a beta programme and called ClearWay, which will allow importers/exporters, customs brokers, and other trusted third parties to collaborate in cross-organisational information exchange, backed by an immutable audit trail.

TradeLens is built on open standards to encourage standardisation across the sector. As part of the system’s early adopter programme 94 organisations have agreed to participate on the platform, an ecosystem that currently includes more than 20 port and terminal operators across the globe, as well as major container lines, customs authorities, beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), freight forwarders and logistics companies.

Maersk and IBM say they have worked with dozens of their ecosystem partners during a 12-month trial of the system to identify opportunities to prevent delays in the supply chain using blockchain technologies, with one example demonstrating how the platform could reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States by 40 per cent.

More than 154 million shipping events have been captured on the platform, including data such as arrival times of vessels and container ‘gate-in’, as well as 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, the partners note.

“We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitising global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves four trillion dollars of goods every year,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain.

“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.”{/mprestriction}

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