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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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    ShipChain has launched a new solution called ShipChain Mainnet to help drive complete supply chain transparency, improve security and the transactional capacity to serve the needs of the largest Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies.

    This launch is a significant milestone toward achieving a modular system across the entire supply chain. It gives supply chain decision-makers the incentive to move from considering how blockchain might be used in global supply chains to realising its evident promise across transport modes and continents.

    “Put simply, we can now fully deliver on blockchain's promise to enable those in the business of trade and logistics to do business with anyone or anything in the world at any transaction size and without an intermediary,” said John Monarch, CEO of ShipChain.

    U.S.-based ShipChain provides an end-to-end logistics platform that delivers full visibility to the global supply chain via the blockchain platform, Ethereum, with a sidechain built on Loom for scalability.

    The launch of ShipChain Mainnet, a public delegated Proof of Stake sidechain of the Ethereum network, means that ShipChain’s blockchain system is now fully developed and deployed, with blockchain transactions now being broadcast, verified, and recorded with full transparency.

    “ShipChain Mainnet vastly increases our transaction capacity, which is essential in an industry such as transportation and logistics,” said Mr Monarch. “This means ShipChain can now support the supply chain tracking and transaction needs of the largest Fortune 500 and Global 500 level enterprises in the world, with capabilities that significantly exceed other alternatives.

    “And this is supported by our Track and Trace blockchain-based system, which brings complete transparency and visibility to the supply chain.”

    ShipChain Mainnet reduces costs by avoiding the congestion and higher pricing users encounter when using the Ethereum mainnet. It also moves the cost of deployment and contract use away from end-users, simplifying and improving the blockchain user experience.

    ShipChain Mainnet also uses a public blockchain rather than a private blockchain. “The lack of trust across companies and actors in shipping today partly stems from a fractured environment - there are no unified systems to truly bring the industry together on one independent platform without competitive risk,” said Monarch. “We believe a public blockchain is safer than operating on a private network controlled by competitors. ShipChain Mainnet provides a protected, permanent ledger of transactions that everyone has their eyes on all at once.

    “That doesn’t mean everyone knows exactly what you’re doing - corporations can still preserve privacy on public blockchains very easily. It just increases trust between your company, suppliers, vendors, and even regulatory bodies if needed.

    “ShipChain’s public blockchain ecosystem also removes the risk of antitrust legal threats, as well as creating a level playing field for all involved.”

    Another benefit of ShipChain’s Mainnet launch is the opportunity it gives to developers to build on top of the ShipChain platform rather than directly on the Ethereum blockchain. This opens up new possibilities for digital freight marketplaces using smart contracts, tokenized inventory management, and robust document management.

    “ShipChain will continue to develop for and enhance the offerings on the Mainnet and encourages others to develop and work collaboratively to make it better and more secure every day,” added Mr Monarch.

    ShipChain has key partnerships with firms including ScanLog, CaseStack, Zinnovate, ParcelLive, KeepTruckin, DistiChain, GTX Corp, and the World Economic Forum. More key partners will shortly be announced.

    “We’ve had a steady flow of new partners, and we hope to be able to announce more soon, including an upcoming deal with a significant Global 500 company, which will significantly expand our modular capabilities even further. We are very excited to begin this next chapter and watch the logistics industry fully embrace the public blockchain.”

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