TradeLens Gives IBM Blockchain Traction

In August IBM and Maersk, the global shipping company, announced the launch on TradeLens, a secure open network for the exchange of shipping information among the multiple parties involved in a shipment. TradeLens is expected to eliminate shipping’s information blind spot by delivering end-to-end information about each shipment.

Since the announcement, Trade Lens has attracted over 140 participants to the network. By the end of 2019 IBM expects the network to handle  over 50% of global shipping volume. Competitors like Oracle, however, have recently jumped in with its own blockchain platform as a cloud service. Expect more to come.

TradeLens uses blockchain technology, specifically HyperLedger, to create an industry standard for the secure digitization and transmission of supply chain documents around the world. TradeLens will generate savings for participants and enhance global supply chain security.

TradeLens connects all participants using  public facing, documented apps that connect into same API. Third parties can develop their own apps for the network. While blockchain/hyperledger is the primary technology for IBM and Maersk it is not the only one. TradeLens can accommodate legacy comm and data formats too.

Global trade is big, generating $16 trillion annually.  Just squeezing some efficiency out of what amounts to a cumbersome process bogged down with paper and handoffs should generate an attractive payback in terms of efficiency and speed. During the 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM worked with dozens of ecosystem partners to identify opportunities to prevent delays caused by documentation errors, information slowdowns, and other impediments.

One example demonstrated how TradeLens can reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States by 40 percent, avoiding thousands of dollars in cost. Through better visibility and more efficient means of communicating, some supply chain participants estimate they could reduce the steps taken to answer such basic operation questions as “where is my container” from 10 steps and five people to, with TradeLens, one step and one person.

Apps are the key to using TradeLens. TradeLens apps all connect into same public facing and documented API. Underneath network is blockchain-hyperledger. Blockchain is just one of the technologies  being used. TradeLens can accommodate legacy comm formats. Data models, supply chain reference models, consignments, heirarchical models get shared.

During the 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM worked with dozens of ecosystem partners to identify opportunities to prevent delays caused by documentation errors, information delays, and other impediments. One example demonstrated how TradeLens can reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the United States by 40 percent, avoiding thousands of dollars in cost.

Looking ahead, IBM and Mearsk envision a future roadmap that brings new capabilities. These may include shipping instructions, bills of lading with specific language.  As it turns out, you need an original bill of lading to take possession of shipped items. Solving that alone could eliminate a major bottleneck.

Currently, the platform handles 10 million events and more than 100,000 documents every week, and it is growing rapidly, according to IBM.  Similarly, the system handles about 20% of trade volume. With more shippers joining the network, IBM expects to reach 65% volume, And it can grow more. TradLens is not limited to ocean transport only. TradeLens could support other transport modes.

Blockchain is ideal for the z, with its security, scalability, and performance. There is no reason that only the biggest shippers should run TradeLens.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

One Response to “TradeLens Gives IBM Blockchain Traction”

  1. Riley Benzee Says:

    Thank you for another fantastic article. The place else could anybody get that type of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such information.|

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: