IBM and Maersk launch global blockchain shipping supply chain

The new IBM-Maersk alliance aims to reduce oceanic shipping times and costs

IBM and Maersk have developed an innovative new blockchain-enabled shipping solution. Titled Tradelens, the project intends to enable digital collaboration across the global trade workflow.

The initiative aims to “promote more efficient and secure global trade, bringing together various parties to support information sharing and transparency.” According to the press release, the solution will “spur industry-wide innovation.”

The platform includes 94 active organisations and over 20 port and terminal operators across the globe. Tradelens relies on blockchain as the foundation for digital supply chains.

Blockchain is a constantly growing list of records linked and secured by cryptography. It can be used to manage online identity verification, aid manufacturing growth, and even implemented in innovative e-commerce platforms.

Blockchain smart contracts enable digital collaboration between various partners on Tradelens. As a result, each party can interact more efficiently through real-time access to shipping data.

Trading partners share important sensor data like temperature control and container weight. The IoT is also utilised to promote digital cooperation and empower individual parties.

Over 154 million shipping events were captured on the platform during the 12-month trial. These included crucial information such as arrival times of vessels, commercial invoices, and customs releases documents. 

Modern Terminals is one of the Network Members testing the initiative. CEO of Modern Terminals, Peter Levesque, said “this initiative will generate tremendous savings for our industry over time while enhancing global supply chain security.”

IBM are championing industry innovation and diversity. The firm’s 1,500 member blockchain team is led by women, a decision that sits in direct opposition to most other blockchain businesses.

Marie Wieck, GM for IBM blockchain said the product provides a way to digitise every step of the global trade workflow. Wieck told Forbes that users can cut as much as 40% on shipping by reducing the time between each step, saving “thousands of dollars” per transaction.

Wieck insists that blockchain provides a safer way of distributing data, securing it with digital encryption built in. Visibility is also key, and any user can check every aspect of the flow in real-time.

However, Wieck highlights that “if you had fraudulent data at start, blockchain won’t help prevent that.” Instead, “what it does help with is that you have multiple people validating every data set and you get greater visibility when something doesn’t look right.”