Digitization Takes Another Step Forward With DP World and TradeLens

Terminals operated by DP World in Cochin, India have connected with TradeLens (file photo)

Published May 28, 2020 8:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The push towards digitization in the shipping industry took another step forward with the announcement by ports operator DP World that it has completed the early stages of integration with TradeLens, a blockchain-based digital container logistics platform.

The announcement from DP World, which handled more than 71 million TEU containers in 2019, came just days after the non-profit industry group, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), announced an initiative to drive digitalization. Calling for collaboration to establish protocols and standards, the DCSA noted an increasing effort by ports around the world to achieve the long-held goal of developing a standardized e-bill of lading.

The public health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 virus is seen as a contributing factor to the efforts to adopt digitization. The DCSA reported that cargo ports are having problems processing shipments due to delays in manual paperwork and the efforts to reduce human-to-human contact.

According to DP World, its collaboration with the TradeLens platform will help accelerate the digitization of global supply chains. The goal is to connect the 82 marine and inland container terminals operated by DP World, as well as feeder companies and logistics divisions with TradeLens. DP World said as part of the announcement that it has already connected Cochin Port (India) with the TradeLens platform via API technology. As a next step in the process, efforts are underway to establish collaboration with other DP World business units, including the feeder line Unifeeder.

The data from DP World’s integration with TradeLens will improve operational efficiency creating earlier visibility of container flows across multiple carriers. This visibility will include confirmation of the transport modality that follows the port stay for each container, which in heavy transshipment or rail ports will enable better yard planning according to DP World. It will also expand the capabilities of DP World’s digital platforms created to move online the management of logistics. Shippers will be able to move cargo to and from anywhere at the click of a mouse. 

Jointly developed by A.P. Moller – Maersk and IBM, TradeLens brings together data from the global supply chain ecosystem, including shippers, port operators, and shipping lines.  The goal is to replace manual and paper-based documents with blockchain-enabled digital solutions. 

TradeLens provides visibility across the entire supply chain, from booking to clearance to payments.  The platform was created with input from the industry and incorporates direct integration with more than 110 ports and terminals, as well as customs authorities around the world, and an increasing number of intermodal providers.

DP World’s efforts to develop these electronic systems across its operations is seen as an important next step to achieve universal digitalization for the global shipping industry.