The world’s two largest container vessels have announced a full merger of the blockchain platform IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens. CMA CGM, a French container and freight company, has joined the TradeLens network with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company to enable a complete digital transformation of their supply chains.
Marvin Eardley, head of TradeLens at IBM Blockchain, told Cointelegraph that when supply chains are digitized, manual paper-based processes are removed as waybills from the equation. “These operations are now embedded in blockchain networks and smart contracts that all parties involved trust,” he said.
Eardley also said that CMA CGM and MSC, together with Maersk, will act as the main carriers for the platform, launching nodes on the TradeLens network. These organizations will authenticate transactions on the network, and ensure that the documents exchanged between the participants are genuine and valid.
The addition of CMA CGM and MSC also provides data on almost half of the world’s container freight to the TradeLens network, which has already tracked 30 million container shipments and almost 13 million published documents since its launch in 2018.
COVID-19 highlights the need for blockchain-based supply chains
While it is noted that CMA CGM and MSC have joined the TradeLens network, it also shows how the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for digital supply chains.
Automating complex business processes is more important than ever in the wake of the pandemic, Eardley said. Blockchain is slowly but surely becoming a necessary component to ensure the future success of the global supply chain, a $ 50 trillion industry:
“The first challenge for the TradeLens network was to achieve critical mass. The more objects we have in the network, the more valuable the network is. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the platform towards critical mass. Other devices will now be included, which will eventually create a network impact. This is why joining CMA CGM and MSC is a very important milestone. ”
By joining TradeLens, CMA CGM and MSC will be able to exchange authorized digital shipping information between participants in the supply chain. The platform, based on the IBM Blockchain and IBM Cloud, allows organizations to access data while keeping sensitive business information private. This gives network members a complete and transparent overview of the data on goods movement around the world.
As Don Tapscott wrote in his book The Supply Chain Revolution, this again opens up the Value of the Internet, where assets can finally be transferred digitally between the parties:
“Blockchain can enable digital processing of commercial documents such as purchase orders and waybills. Sharing and verifying blockchain business documents in real time will also help simplify asset tracking and provide transparency for freight forwarders. ”
Finally, blockchain represents an important business opportunity for companies working with multiple organizations, as it provides transparency, trust and collaboration for complex transactions that are usually paper-based. A milestone in the installation of CMA CGM and MSC was, for example, a pilot project with 15 clients that includes over 3,000 unique shipments, 100,000 events and 6,000 containers. This pilot explained how the TradeLens platform quickly and accurately distributes and communicates freight traffic data across different supply chains.
André Simcha, Director of Digital and Information Technology at MSC, noted that TradeLens is an important initiative in the digitalisation of global shipping and logistics, noting that the platform can help carriers and their customers increase transparency and reduce errors and delays. “All of this is happening at a critical time when the industry is rethinking and improving the resilience of the supply chain,” he said. Simha also noted that by integrating with TradeLens, the company can begin to show its customers and business partners how to create value using the blockchain platform.
Ironically, the pandemic has made it easier for customers to understand the value of the blockchain network. Vincent Clerk, CEO, Oceans and Logistics, A.P.Moller-Maersk, said that TradeLen’s ecosystem is already gaining traction at a time when customers and players in the supply chain are increasingly turning to digital and online solutions. The clerk noted that organizations are beginning to recognize the value of digital products and platforms to keep supply chains in order during interruptions, leading to complex manual and physical interactions between supply chain stakeholders.
The clerk also noted that since the start of the pandemic, Maersk has increased the number of mobile business transactions in the Maersk app by 27%.