Singapore shipper rips up history with new eB-L tech

October 04, 2018
Chris Wheal

Singapore’s biggest shipping operator Pacific International Lines (PIL) is to collaborate with IBM on digitising a vital shipping document, the bill of lading. 

This document – its roots stretch back to 19th century sea trade and the novels of Joseph Conrad – is the receipt of cargo shipment – type, quantity, ultimate destination – of all goods transported. 

Goodbye Bill of Lading, hello e-BL

Often abbreviated to BL, this information is usually the responsibility of multiple parties. So a blockchain solution – or an e-BL – offers clear communication and cost pluses.

Go with the flow

With a logistic network comprising ports and terminals, agencies, government entities, banks and shippers “systematic supply chain management is increasingly important to lower costs through the chain by cutting unnecessary expense, movements and handling”, PIL said in a statement on Thursday.

Information flow, said Lisa Teo, executive director of PIL, is too often handled manually – and the supply chain slows when so many points of communication have to be acknowledged.

Shipping’s last revolution dated back to the 1960s with shipping containers

Forgery risks down, speed up

Teo said: “The use of blockchain technology is to allow for the direct exchange of documents and information via the decentralised network to boost transparency, eliminate disputes, forgeries and unnecessary risks.”

PIL says there are plans to extend the e-BL to shadow an end-to-end shipment in real time. PIL is the world’s ninth-biggest containership operator with a fleet of around 180 container and multi-purpose vessels serving close to 500 locations. 

South Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine Co have pursued trial blockchain runs with Samsung SDS Co while the world’s third-biggest container line CMA CGM SA and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV are also looking hard at blockchain solutions. 

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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