Digital Container Shipping Association on Electronic Bills of Lading

Digital Container Shipping Association(DCSA)
Digital Container Shipping Association(DCSA)

Published Feb 26, 2023 11:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

DCSA’s member carriers commit to a fully standardized, electronic bill of lading by 2030

Nine ocean carriers commit to converting 50% of original bills of lading to digital within five years and 100% by 2030 to accelerate the digitalization of container trade.

Digital Container Shipping Association(DCSA) announces its nine ocean carrier members commit to 100% adoption of an electronic bill of lading (eBL) based on DCSA standards by 2030. Switching away from the transfer of physical paper bills of lading could save stakeholders $6.5 billion in direct costs, enabling $30-40 billion in annual global trade growth¹, transforming the customer experience, and improving sustainability.

The bill of lading is one of the most important trade documents in container shipping. It functions as a document of title, a receipt for shipped goods, and a record of agreed terms and conditions. Ocean carriers issue around 45 million bills of lading a year. In 2021, only 1.2%of these were electronic.²

Manual, paper-based processes are time-consuming, expensive, and environmentally unsustainable for stakeholders along complex supply chains. Paper-based processes break down when cargo in ports cannot be gated out because original bills of lading or title documents fail to arrive or cannot be manually processed. In contrast, digital processes enable data to flow instantly and securely, reducing delays and waste.

Transforming document exchange through the eBL will accelerate digitalization to benefit customers, banks, customs/government authorities, providers of ocean shipping services and all maritime supply chain stakeholders.

Thomas Bagge, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DCSA, said: “The digitalization of international trade holds vast potential for the world economy by reducing friction and, as trade brings prosperity and the eBL will further enable trade, helping bring millions out of poverty. This heralds the start of a new era in container shipping as the industry transitions to scaled automation and fully paperless trade. Document digitalization has the power to transform international trade and requires collaboration from all stakeholders. I applaud the leadership of our members in coming together to achieve this important milestone.”

The signatories to today’s commitment said:

Soren Toft, CEO, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company: “I am delighted that carriers are taking this big step towards paperless trade. Our industry needs to accelerate digitalization to help make shipping more efficient, secure, and a better customer experience. On top of these benefits, moving to 100% eBL will contribute towards our climate goals, as we move towards net zero 2050.”

Vincent Clerc, CEO of A.P. Moller -Maersk: “This is an important step in the journey towards creating a digital standard of one of the most cost-heavy and troublesome components in the shipping industry. A fully digitized bill of lading enables a more seamless customer experience across the supply chain. It will help democratize trade and reduce time and costs for all involved parties. Digitization in logistics is urgent, and the industry needs to speed up the process.”

Olivier Nivoix, Group Executive Vice-President, Shipping, CMA CGM Group: “The 100%eBL goal is an important milestone for the shipping industry, paving the way for the digitization of the entire value chain. It will help reduce lead times and costs, improve customer satisfaction, and achieve CSR goals. As a company committed to a reliable, transparent, and sustainable supply chain, CMA CGM will play an active role in this initiative.”

Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO, Hapag-Lloyd: “We have been offering our customers electronic bills of lading since last year to simplify and streamline document handling for all stakeholders and to reduce our carbon footprint. The feedback from our customers has been very positive. The target of having 100% eBL by 2030 is an important part of digitalizing global supply chains and will require a collective effort from the industry to make it a reality.”

Jeremy Nixon, CEO,ONE: “With digitization gaining ground ever faster, the maritime industry must continue to evolve and adapt by embracing new global standards and transaction efficiency. A significant acceleration in eBL usage will pave the way for ever-greater interoperability across global supply chains. As ONE, we are pleased to be a key part of this and provide a better customer service experience overall.”

Eric Hsieh, President, Evergreen Marine: “Evergreen is committed to the advantages offered by a universal eBL system —efficiency, innovation, reliability, sustainability. Each party will play a critical role in enabling the transition to digital trade documentation, and Evergreen is proud to be doing its part to help get us there. We’re very pleased to see DCSA members support this initiative that will bring tremendous benefits not just to container shipping, but to the entire supply chain and everyone who relies on international trade.”

Cheng-Mount Cheng, Chairman and CEO, Yang Ming: “Digitalising the bills of lading is an inevitable trend that will undoubtedly benefit the supply chain. However, the transformation requires the support from all stakeholders and carriers. Yang Ming recognises DCSA’s efforts to accelerate maritime digitisation, and is proud to be a part of the 100% eBL goal.”

Kim, Kyung Bae, President and CEO, HMM: “I am pleased to join the collaborative effort on the pathway to the digitalization of the shipping industry. Adopting electronic bills of lading will be a significant milestone in improving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing security in the transportation service. HMM will continue to team up with all industry stakeholders to promote the digitalization process.”

Eli Glickman, President and CEO of ZIM: “As an innovation-driven company, we were very proud to pioneer electronic Bills of Lading as early as 2017 on our WAVE platform. Since then, we have come a long way, digitalizing customer documentation in many countries. Being part of this industry-wide effort to set the standards and reach 100% eBL is a natural outcome of our digitization efforts, ESG commitments, and core values.”

Visit the DCSA website to view the full commitment statement.

About DCSA

Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) is a neutral, non-profit group founded by major ocean carriers to digitise and standardise the container shipping industry. With the mission of leading the industry towards systematic collaboration, DCSA drives initiatives to make container transportation services transparent, reliable, easy to use, secure and environmentally friendly. DCSA’s open source standards are developed based on input from DCSA member carriers, industry stakeholders and technology experts from other industries. DCSA member carriers include: MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM. Please download DCSA standards at dcsa.org.


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