ZIM Trials Blockchain Bill of Lading


Published Nov 20, 2017 6:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

Israeli container shipping company ZIM has conducted a pilot test of a paperless Bills-of-Lading based on blockchain technology, the first of its kind led by an ocean carrier.

The test was conducted in cooperation with Sparx Logistics and Wave Ltd. During the trial all participants issued, transferred and received original electronic documents using the Wave Application. The containers, shipped by Sparx Logistics from China to Canada, were successfully delivered to the consignees.

An electronic substitute to the traditional Negotiable Ocean Bill-of-lading has been the industry’s Holy Grail for many years, says ZIM. The company is convinced that blockchain technology and the Wave application will drive the trade into the digital era.

The new blockchain-based system developed by Wave uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties can issue, transfer, endorse and manage shipping and trade related documents through a secure decentralized network. The application is free for shippers, importers and traders and requires no IT or operational changes.

The Maersk and IBM Collaboration

Earlier this year, Maersk and IBM announced a new collaboration to use blockchain technology. The technology will be made available to the shipping and logistics industry to help manage the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers across the world by digitizing the supply chain process from end-to-end.

It is expected to enhance transparency and facilitate secure sharing of information among trading partners. It is designed to help reduce fraud and errors, reduce the time products spend in the transit and shipping process, improve inventory management and ultimately reduce waste and cost.

Maersk found in 2014 that just a simple shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through nearly 30 people and organizations, including more than 200 different interactions and communications among them. The costs associated with trade documentation processing and administration are estimated to be up to one-fifth the actual physical transportation costs.

The solution, developed by Maersk and IBM, is based on the open source Linux Foundation's open source Hyperledger Fabric. IBM hosts the solution on the IBM Cloud and the IBM high-security business network, delivered via IBM Bluemix.

In order to prove the potential value of a commercial trade digitization solution, IBM and Maersk have worked with a number of trading partners, government authorities and logistics companies. For example, goods from Schneider Electric were transported on a Maersk Line container vessel from the Port of Rotterdam to the Port of Newark in a pilot with the Customs Administration of the Netherlands under an E.U. research project.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are participating in this pilot. Damco, Maersk’s supply chain solutions company, supported origin management activities of the shipment while utilizing the solution.

The international shipment of flowers to Royal FloraHolland from Kenya, Mandarin oranges from California and pineapples from Colombia were also used to validate the solution for shipments coming into the Port of Rotterdam.