IBM Blockchain Shipping Platform a Success

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Blockchain technology reaches beyond cryptocurrency in numerous ways. One way that consumers can feel the immediate effects of blockchain technology is shipping. IBM recently launched a test program in collaboration with Pacific International Lines (PIL) to see if its blockchain platform could reduce international shipping times. The program wanted to see how quickly they could ship 28 tons of fresh mandarin oranges — a symbol of prosperity and often exchanged and consumed during Lunar New Year celebrations — into Singapore. The test was a great success and demonstrated how applicable blockchain technology can be.

How did Blockchain Technology Decrease Shipping Times?

A significant challenge in decreasing shipping times is the electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) process. A Bill of Lading, whether paper or electronic, is the legal document that is agreed upon between the shipper and carrier. It contains the type of item shipped, quantity of said item, and destination in it. When a shipment arrives at its destination, the Bill of Lading acts as a shipment receipt.

Typically, it takes anywhere between five to seven days to process a paper Bill of Lading. The paper process also is faced with the prospect of fraud and inefficiencies. Through this pilot program, IBM was able to utilize its Blockchain Platform to issue and approve an e-BL in a mere second. This is an astronomical reduction in the time often necessary to process this essential document.

According to IBM, once the document process is automated, it enables the shipment to be delivered with speed and efficiency. The e-BL system is better protected from fraud and provides a seamless and transparent outline of the e-BL from point A to point B.

Pilot Program Benefits

For the pilot program, IBM partnered with Hupco Pte Ltd, an importer in Singapore. The company agreed to become the consignee of approximately 108,000 mandarin oranges. Importers of perishable goods often need a fast document processing process in order to ensure the freshness of their cargo — which ultimately affects consumers and retailers. Benefits seen during the pilot program include:

  • Retailers experienced a lower overall risk that is usually inherent when ordering fresh foods. With a faster e-BL processing time, they were able to get even fresher mandarin oranges than ever before.
  • Consumers were able to purchase the freshest mandarin oranges, which is especially important during the Lunar New Year when they share these fruits with each other in celebration.

The consignee — Hupco, in this case — benefited from:

  • Lower operating costs. This includes the electricity to power a refrigerated cargo, the cost of storing the shipment, and other savings as a result of a fast processing time.
  • An enhanced opportunity to trace and ensure the reliability of all documents related to the shipment.
  • Improved security from fraudulent documents. In fact, document fraud accounts for 40 percent of all maritime fraud.

IBM had been working to perfect the process for some time, and this pilot program gave them an opportunity to test it in a real-life situation to determine the accuracy and validity of the e-BL and IBM Blockchain Platform process. IBM has worked with clients since 2016 in a myriad of industries to implement blockchain technology as a way to improve efficiency and security.

Matrix AI Network Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Improve Shipping and Logistics

IBM is not the only company leveraging blockchain technology to improve shipping and logistics.  Matrix AI Network, a global open-source, public, intelligent blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system combining artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, is developing proprietary technology uniquely designed to make blockchains faster, more flexible, more secure, and more intelligent.

The Hong Kong-based company recently announced a partnership with OGI Ocean Gate Transportation Company, an international freight forwarding and integrated logistics services company covering maritime, land and air transport, listed on China’s New Third Board Market, to develop an intelligent global freight shipping application platform integrating big data information processing, smart contracts, DApps, financial services and payment systems on the Matrix AI Network blockchain.

Matrix AI Network’s technology and its potential application to complex logistics challenges is attracting interest by China’s government.  In 2018, Matrix announced that it was the only blockchain-related project to be approved as a partner for China’s trillion-dollar One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.  In this partnership, Matrix will assist with training and consultation in both AI and blockchain and serve as the primary application platform in both areas for the center.  All OBOR contracts that go through the center relating to blockchain will go through the Matrix AI Network.

In May 2018, Matrix announced its second partnership related to OBOR, this time with International Digital Asset Company (IDA), an asset digitization and tracking specializing in OBOR ventures. As of today, IDA holds approximately 3 billion USD worth of assets in the form of natural resources. The partnership between IDA and Matrix will allows these natural resources to be further digitized using the Matrix blockchain. The digitization process will allow faster and easier tracking – essential elements in modernizing international shipping and logistics. 


About the Author:
Yael Dayan is a freelance technology writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.


 
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