Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd and IBM Singapore are to collaborate in a blockchain trial to design and create an electronic bill of lading which will enhance the shipping documentation process.
According to PIL, the collaboration was supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Singapore Shipping Association, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore Customs and the Singapore branch of the Bank of China.
“This is a big step forward for PIL,” said Lisa Teo, executive director of PIL. “As an international shipping company, we believe we have a role to play in enhancing efficiencies within the intermodal transport logistics ecosystem. Working with a complex 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.”
The bill of lading contains crucial legal and commercial information such as evidence of contract of carriage, receipt of goods and title of the goods. It is a physical document which banks rely on to provide trade financing and is usually mailed to the relevant parties, leaving it open to potential fraud or loss, handling costs and inefficiency.
To improve the process, PIL and IBM have proposed using an electronic bill of lading to streamline and replicate the paper trail online using a secure blockchain ledger created by IBM, doing away with hard copies and unnecessary handling costs.
The team plans to extend the electronic bill of lading to shadow an end-to-end shipment in real time.
“Traditionally, information flow is predominantly handled via manual processes and the supply chain is slowed down when there are many points of communication within its framework,” said Teo. “The use of blockchain technology to allow for the direct exchange of documents and information via the decentralized network to boost transparency, eliminate disputed forgeries and unnecessary risks will be key for this industry to progress.”