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IBM-Maersk blockchain shipping consortium expands

With shipping, containerization is an important factor in how goods travel around the world. Control and traceability of containers is key to ensuring safe transfer of goods, and blockchain provides a powerful means to ensure that this process happens effectively, assessing everything from ship-to-ship transfer, to temperature control, to traceability and the avoidance of fraud (blockchain is an encrypted block, that cannot be altered or deleted).

Blockchain for shipping links with a vast computerized database of shipping routes and activities, for which the power of big data analytics is also being utilized. In addition, other new technology measures include the use of robots for handling cargo and the application of tag and trace readers..

The advantages of blockchain for shipping were behind the IBM-Masersk initiative. Based on the robustness of the technology, in May 2019 it was announced that global container carriers CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will join TradeLens. This decision means that the TradeLens consortium now encompasses almost half of the world’s cargo container shipments, according to data supplied by IBM.

Commenting on this key aspect of the digital transformation of shipping, André Simha, Chief Digital & Information Officer, MSC states: “Digital collaboration is a key to the evolution of the container shipping industry. The TradeLens platform has enormous potential to spur the industry to digitize the supply chain and build collaboration around common standards.”

He adds: “We think that the TradeLens Advisory Board, as well as standards bodies such as the Digital Container Shipping Association, will help accelerate that effort.”

TradeLens is currently processing over ten million discrete shipping events and thousands of documents each week, adding a new level of control to the world’s shipping and cargo process. Used correctly, Blockchain can lower costs, eliminate delays and avoid discrepancies that are accompanied by paperwork records, across the maritime sector.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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