Blockchain Bill of Lading: from one week to just one second

An electronic Bill of Lading pilot has reduced the time to transfer shipment documents from seven days to one second, enabling 28 tonnes of fresh mandarin oranges, a symbol of prosperity, to arrive early for Lunar New Year
Pacific International Lines (“PIL”) has used an electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) built on the IBM Blockchain Platform in a successful real-time pilot tracking shipment of mandarin oranges from China for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
With the use of IBM Blockchain powered e-BL, the trial has produced a significant reduction in the administrative process of transferring the title deed from five to seven days to just one second.
This is significant because the Bill of Lading is one of the most crucial documents used in international trade, typically issued by a shipping carrier to document the title or ownership of goods. It also functions as a receipt of goods and a contract of the shipment.
Combining e-BL with blockchain technology promises to help companies reduce their document processing times to almost zero, with an instantaneous digital transfer of the bill of lading for their cargo. Document handling is automated, and goods delivered more quickly and efficiently. Hupco Pte Ltd (“Hupco”), a major importer in Singapore of mandarin oranges for the upcoming Lunar New Year, took part in the e-BL trial as the consignee of 3,000 cartons of mandarin oranges (approximately 108,000 mandarin oranges).
Chairman and CEO of Hupco (Mr) Tay Khiam Back said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the trial. By using the e-BL, we have seen how the entire shipment process can be simplified and made more transparent with considerable cost savings.
“Our customers can expect their orders in a more timely manner, and, importantly, with freshness assured.”
As a symbol of prosperity, mandarin oranges are a common – and welcome – sight during the Lunar New Year in Asia, with people exchanging them as greeting gifts and eating them during the festive celebrations. Companies shipping perishable items like these mandarin oranges require faster document processing and expedited cargo clearing for delivery. This shortens the overall shipping time – reducing potential risks for retailers and providing fresher options to consumers.
For this trial, the consignee (Hupco) benefited from collecting their goods faster with the immediate receipt of the electronic Bill of Lading.
They also benefited from:

  • Lower operating costs such as electricity costs (charging for refrigerated cargo containers at the port while waiting for collection), storage costs (at port) and cost savings from enhanced equipment utilisation.
  • Stronger provenance and real-time visibility of documents that is both traceable and tamper-proof.
  • Greater security by helping prevent document fraud, which comprises 40% of all maritime fraud.

The live trial follows the e-BL Proof of Concept which was announced in October 2018.* PIL and IBM collaborated to digitize the lifecycle of negotiable and non-negotiable Bills of Lading on top of distributed ledger technology. The live trial is an important milestone because it validates how the system works in real-time conditions.
Executive director of PIL Lisa Teo said: “We are pleased with the steady progress of our blockchain collaboration with IBM. To-date, we have received very positive feedback from the industry and authorities, and we are enthused by the possibilities of how our blockchain developments can transform and inject a much-needed boost in efficiency and innovation into the industry.”
CEO and chairman of IBM Asia Pacific Harriet Green said: “A blockchain-based trade network will be a game-changer, and we have a great opportunity here with our partner PIL to revolutionise the documentation processes in a way that benefits the entire industry. Powered by blockchain, the e-BL developed by the IBM Research Singapore will be critical in helping to establish an extensible ecosystem for trade, thus expectedly enhancing trade efficiency and building trusted trade relationships among the industry players.”
The e-BL platform gives various ecosystem players the convenience to manage a Bill of Lading digitally with accuracy and speed, including banks. A similar trial from Singapore to Brunei has taken place for negotiable e-BL with key stakeholders participating including Bank of China Limited Singapore Branch (BOC). The negotiable e-BL network establishes an extensible ecosystem which facilitates trade transactions and settlements, as the process of issuing Letter of Credit and Guarantee is enhanced.

Maersk and IBM joint venture to apply blockchain to global supply chains

Logistics company and container shipping giant A.P. Moller – Maersk and technology company IBM have announced their intent to establish a joint venture to provide efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology.
The new company is to be built on open standards, offering a global trade digitisation platform designed for use in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones to provide more transparency and simplicity.
A distributed ledger technology, blockchain establishes a shared, unalterable record of all transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time.
Maersk and IBM will use blockchain technology to power the new platform, as well as employ other cloud-based open source technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders.
“This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitisation of global trade,” said Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer, Maersk, and future Chairman of the board of the new joint venture. “The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit.
“By joining our knowledge of trade with IBM’s capabilities in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade.”
Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain, added: “The major advances IBM has made in blockchain have shown that the technology can foster new business models and play an important role in how the world works by building smarter businesses.
“Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organisations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain. We believe blockchain will now emerge in this market as the leading way companies seize new untapped economic opportunities.”
IBM and Maersk began a collaboration in June 2016 to build new blockchain- and cloud-based technologies. Since then, several companies have piloted the platform, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands and the US Customs and Border Protection.
The joint venture will now enable IBM and Maersk to commercialise and scale their solutions to a broader group of global corporations. General Motors and Procter and Gamble and Agility Logistics have already reportedly expressed their interest.
 
 

Enterprise blockchain collaboration launched

 
GS1 has announced a collaboration with IBM and Microsoft to leverage GS1 standards in their enterprise blockchain applications for supply chain clients.
GS1’s global standards for identification and structured data enable blockchain network users to scale enterprise adoption and maintain a single, shared version of the truth about supply chain and logistics events — increasing data integrity and trust between parties, and reducing data duplication and reconciliation.
GS1 Australia’s executive director and chief executive officer Maria Palazzolo said: “Blockchain, like any other technology designed to exchange data across organisations, must be established on strong foundations. At its core, any supply chain implementation needs to be based on all involved parties agreeing on a common way to uniquely identify any item, location, shipment, consignment, asset or any other ‘thing’ to which blockchain transactions relate.
“Trading partners must also adhere to common data definitions to ensure all parties in the chain can correctly interpret, and integrate, the ‘meaning’ of data in the blockchain. This is what GS1 has been doing for over 40 years across the globe.”
Data stored or referenced by blockchain networks can be structured for shared communications and interoperability through the use of standards. For example, the GS1 and ISO open standards of Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) and Core Business Vocabulary (CBV) enable standardised exchange of data and item-level tracking.
Peter Carter from Data61 (CSIRO) said: “A blockchain is a generic technology platform. The data we store in the blockchain still needs to follow supply chain data standards, and integrate with existing systems that use those standards. We have already started research into the use of GS1 EPCIS standards on blockchain, and we are exploring how we can integrate smart sensors and packaging into the supply chain on blockchain.”
Global businesses use standards in the supply chain
GS1 standards offer global businesses like Walmart the ability to expand blockchain networks to suppliers, distributors and other ecosystem partners, unlocking the business value of data sharing, transparency, visibility and trust. IBM and Walmart have successfully used blockchain technology in a pilot test to enhance the traceability of two food commodities in two different countries: mangoes in the US and pork in China.
“Our pilot projects in the US and China demonstrated that blockchain can strengthen existing food system safeguards by improving traceability. Using blockchain, we were able to track a product from retail shelf back through every stage of the supply chain, right to the farm gate, in seconds instead of days or weeks,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart. “Building blockchain traceability on a common set of standards can help us scale across our complex, global supply chain and build networks based on transparency and trust.”
“One of the key benefits to blockchain in the enterprise is the trust it delivers, which enables more efficient and complete sharing of the critical data that drives enterprise transactions. By removing the barriers that can be caused from disparate entry systems, that trust is solidified even further,” said Brigid McDermott, vice president, blockchain business development, IBM. “That’s why we are working with clients like Walmart and collaborating with other industry leaders to implement GS1 open standards into the work that we do.”
“Leveraging existing GS1 standards to structure event information will enable blockchain-based supply chain implementations to be more interoperable and will simplify the capture and description of events that are written against smart contracts,” said Yorke Rhodes III, global business strategist, Blockchain, Microsoft. “Collaborating with partners to implement solutions on blockchain using standards already in place for item-level tracking is the quickest path to production.”
 

ANC appoints National Projects Manager

Fleet services company ANC has appointed Kylee Bidwell to the new senior position of National Projects Manager.
ANC is a privately owned company specialising in dedicated fleet home delivery and dedicated fleet corporate delivery services in metropolitan areas around Australia.
Bidwell has held a number of roles during her 24 years in transport and logistics, and has been at ANC since 1993. Most recently, she was the Western Australian State Manager, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations of the state, including management of over 50 staff and contractors servicing clients such as Bunnings, Fantastic Furniture, Telstra and IBM.
The newly created role of National Projects Manager will oversee the implementation of new client operations, with a focus on the development of internal and external processes for maximum efficiency and effectiveness of resources, reporting to the National Manager Operations, Roger Cengarle.
Cengarle commented, “Setting up a new dedicated fleet delivery service takes time, experience with continuous assessment and improvement in the first critical months of operations. ANC has appointed this highly experienced senior resource to manage and seamlessly coordinate ANC and the client’s various departments. We have invested in the role to ensure we quickly and efficiently develop the most suitable delivery service, so that the client sees the best results as soon as possible, and the customer delivery experience is consistently excellent.
“Kylee has excelled in her role of WA State Manager over the past three years and has shown her flair for project management and leadership. She has a natural talent for seamlessly transitioning new clients to ANC services and we are excited about the positive impact this role will have on all new clients at a national level.”

Textbook supply chain management software

Leading educational institutions are opting for supply chain software developed by Mid-Comp as a key teaching tool.

Victoria University’s (VU) Industry Skills Training, which has built a strong reputation for innovation, has become the latest addition to the growing list of organisations to sign up for the Melbourne-based company’s education initiatives program.

Under the new agreement, VU will utilise Mid-Comp’s Odyssey corporate distribution and accounting software for teaching purposes.

The company’s managing director Steve Bridges said that as an advanced enterprise resource planing program with a strong focus on distribution, Odyssey was compatible with the organisation’s educational objectives.

With the help of the program, VU’s transport and logistics student will have access to a real-world warehousing and distribution environment, working in a modern warehouse using barcode and RFID technologies.

Students are expected to gain practical hands-on exposure, lifting their employability when they complete their course.

Mr Bridges said the breadth of the Odyssey software application would enable course graduates to go into any distribution company operating modern workflow processes and become productive immediately.

VU Industry Skills Training head of school Peter Jacobson said the software would form a pivotal part of courses, offered to local and international students for either academic or commercial industry-based learning.

“The courses encompass the full gambit of supply chain, business administration and financial applications,” Mr Jacobson said.

VU Industry Skills Training recently won an Australian Supply Chain and Logistics Award (training, education and development category) for its ‘Ready to Work’ program, a four-week course that aimed to tackle Australia’s shortage of logistics transport workers by fast-tracking students into the industry.

Mid-Comp, under a strategic partnership with IBM, develops and supplies business software to organisations in 26 countries, including a substantial number of Fortune 500 companies.

Westpac to join IBM at Smart breakfast seminar

Corporate social responsibility is a key to boost supply chain performance, and two industry leaders will speak at the Smart breakfast seminar on the topic.

Westpac sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) manager Yvonne Goldsmith joins IBM’s global corporate social responsibility leader Jeffrey Hittner at the first instalment of the Smart breakfast seminar series on October 14 in Sydney.

The seminar will revolve around the theme of corporate social responsibility and supply chain’s role, with Mr Hittner presenting an international perspective on how companies can improve their brand image and competitive advantage through reducing carbon emissions via supply chain management.

Ms Goldsmith will outline how Westpac is working with suppliers in the region to influence the development of supplier sustainability performance, encouraging marketplace change.

Westpac’s SSCM process is now rated by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as exemplifying world’s best supplier management practice for banks.

Smart 2009 organising committee chairman Warwick Hughes says: “Westpac is clearly showing how embarking on a corporate sustainability program is not only good for the environment, but has a positive impact on the whole organisation and how it is viewed in the broader business community.”

Tickets for “Corporate social responsibility and the supply chain: supply chain’s role in reducing carbon and contribution to growth” are $66 inc GST and include a hot breakfast.

Register online at the Smart 2009 website: www.smartconference.com.au.

About Smart Conference

Smart 2009 Conference is organised by a committee of independent advisors and representatives from leading industry associations: Logistics Association of Australia (LAA), APICS (Australasian Production and Inventory Control Society), Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Australia (CIPSA), The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Australia (CILTA), and The Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA).

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