The shipping companies’ digital ecosystem is growing very fast since they committed to taking the lead on the maritime industry’s digital transformation some time ago. Through this process, they have created digital ecosystems based on the use of blockchain technology that allows all players related to the global supply chain to participate. But, what benefits do they have to offer to their members?
The top shipping companies’ digital ecosystem and that is currently booming is undoubtedly the one represented by TradeLens, a platform based on blockchain technology created by Maersk and IBM, a pioneer in this segment and that debuted just a year ago.
TradeLens relies on relevant companies of the industry, such as Hapag-Lloyd, CMA-CGM, MSC, ONE, and PSA International, in addition to the main ports of Spain (Valencia, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Algeciras), and more than 90 total participants. This includes financial institutions, private companies, governments, ports, and terminals in the world, etc.
But TradeLens is not the only digital ecosystem made by shipping lines that exists. Nor are the carriers the only ones to develop this kind of ecosystems based on blockchain. Ports and others related to the maritime industry are doing it as well. It is the case of eB/Ls, the shipping company ZIM’s digital ecosystem (Israel), DELIVER Blockchain driven by the Rotterdam’s port, Infotech Baltika’s Edge.port in Russia, TradeTrust developed by the government of Singapore, and Silsal developed by Abu Dhabi Ports.
The fact that there are more and more digital ecosystems related to the maritime industry based on blockchain, is due to the confidence that this technology prints on a business that moves millions of dollars around the world. And this represents the main benefit of participating in them.
Having a blockchain base, the transparency and the possibility of exchanging data in real-time is what gives the confidence on a shipping companies’ digital ecosystem that works. In addition, it saves time, resources, and operating costs. Plus, there is an immediate answer to questions about locations, content conditions, cargo handling, customs procedures, etc., because everything is digitized, automated, and protected through encrypted contracts that guarantee immutability, decentralization, and safety in the international logistics process.
What role does a freight forwarder play in a shipping companies’ digital ecosystem?
There has been much speculation about digital shipping lines leaving the digital freight forwarders out of the business by implementing blockchain technology in their operations. Nothing is further from reality. It is necessary to have something very clear, although the shipping companies have taken the first step in the digital standardization of the maritime industry, they alone would not have been able to do it. The learning that they have been gaining from the technological companies, startups and the digital freight forwarders themselves, is what allowed them to reach the level of modernization that the industry has today.
Recently, Maersk expressed its commitment to work with freight forwarders as part of its TradeLens digital ecosystem. And if the industry leader does it, the other players will surely follow on its footsteps.
On the other hand, there is CargoSmart who, in partnership with Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, created the GSBN consortium (Global Shipping Business Network), a digital ecosystem that initially involves carriers (COSCO, OOCL, Hapag-Lloyd, and CMA-CGM) and ports (Hutchison, PSA International, Qingdao, Shanghai International Ports Group). It also emphasized that it will involve other parts of the global supply chain, which includes freight forwarders who want to take on the chance to participate.
Certainly, freight forwarders cannot fall asleep, nor skip the fast change that the industry is making. If they want to belong to a shipping companies’ digital ecosystem, they must have updated digital tools that facilitate their day-to-day work.
Tools such as the one we offer at Cargofive, which allows them to have a faster quoting process, not only to be part of the digital era but also of the shipping companies’ digital ecosystems and others related to the international logistics industry. So, if you are a freight forwarder, it is your choice: would you like to be part of it or not?