Industry-led collaboration advances blockchain solution

Industry-wide collaboration advances as 94 organizations participate in the global trade solution. More than 154 million events captured on the platform and growing by one million per day.

Maersk and IBM have jointly developed TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution.  It is gaining traction as more companies have come onboard.
As part of the TradeLens early adopter program, IBM and Maersk also announced that 94 organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate.
The TradeLens ecosystem currently includes:

  • More than 20 port and terminal operators across the globe.  These include PSA Singapore, International Container Terminal Services Inc, Patrick Terminals, Modern Terminals in Hong Kong, Port of Halifax, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect, PortBase, and terminal operators Holt Logistics at the Port of Philadelphia, join the global APM Terminals’ network in piloting the solution. This accounts for approximately 234 marine gateways worldwide that have or will be actively participating on TradeLens.
  • Pacific International Lines (PIL) have joined Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd as global container carriers participating in the solution.
  • Customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru are participating, along with customs brokers Ransa and Güler & Dinamik.
  • Participation among beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) has grown to include Torre Blanca / Camposol and Umit Bisiklet.

Moreover, freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies including Agility, CEVA Logistics, DAMCO, Kotahi, PLH Trucking Company, Ancotrans and WorldWide Alliance are also currently participating.

Spur industry-wide innovation

TradeLens is designed to promote more efficient and secure global trade. Certainly, it aims to bring together various parties to support information sharing and transparency, and spur industry-wide innovation.
TradeLens uses IBM Blockchain technology as the foundation for digital supply chains.  It empowers multiple trading partners to collaborate by establishing a single shared view of a transaction.  Most importantly, this is without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.
Therefore, shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities can interact more efficiently.  This is through real-time access to shipping data ad shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight.
Using blockchain smart contracts, TradeLens enables digital collaboration across the multiple parties involved in international trade.

Secure, non-repudiable audit trail

The trade document module, released under a beta program and called ClearWay, enables importers/exporters, customs brokers, trusted third parties such as Customs, other government agencies, and NGOs to collaborate in cross-organizational business processes and information exchanges, all backed by a secure, non-repudiable audit trail.
During the 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM worked with dozens of ecosystem partners.  They identified opportunities to prevent delays caused by documentation errors, information delays, and other impediments. For example, TradeLens can reduce transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the US by 40%.  This results in avoiding thousands of dollars in cost.
Better visibility and more efficient means of communicating enable supply chain participants to reduce the steps taken to answer basic operational questions.  These include “where is my container” from 10 steps and five people to, with TradeLens, one step and one person.

Industry standard

The platform has captured more than 154 million shipping events.  This include arrival times of vessels and container “gate-in”, and documents like customs releases, commercial invoices and bills of lading.
This data is growing at a rate of close to one million events per day. Traditionally, some of this data can be shared through the EDI systems commonly used in the supply chain industry.  But these systems are inflexible, complex, and can’t share data in real-time.
Too often, companies must still share documents via email attachment, fax and courier. TradeLens can track critical data on every shipment in a supply chain.  It offers an immutable record among all parties involved.
“TradeLens uses blockchain technology to create an industry standard for the secure digitization and transmission of supply chain documents around the world,” commented Peter Levesque, CEO of Modern Terminals.
“This initiative will generate tremendous savings for our industry over time while enhancing global supply chain security. Modern Terminals is pleased to participate as a Network Member in testing this exciting shipping industry innovation.”
“We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitizing global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves four trillion dollars of goods every year. However, success with the technology rests on a single factor –bringing the entire ecosystem together around a common approach that benefits all participants equally,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain.
“Our work with Maersk and other enterprises in the shipping ecosystem has shown that blockchain can be used to form a strong, connected network in which all members gain by sharing important data and that together we can transform a vital part of how global trade is conducted.”

Joint collaboration model to maximize industry adoption

Based on feedback, IBM and Maersk have modified the go to market model.  They will now deliver their solution through an extension of their pre-existing collaboration agreement instead of a joint venture.
“Our joint collaboration model allows us to better address key feedback from ecosystem participants while ensuring TradeLens interoperability and data protection among Maersk, IBM and all ecosystem participants,” said Mike White, TradeLens leader for Maersk. “We strongly believe this will maximize industry adoption.”
Standards discussions are actively underway with and work to align the TradeLens APIs with UN/CEFACT standards is in progress. The TradeLens APIs are open and available for developer access and feedback from participants in the platform.
The TradeLens solution is available today through the Early Adopter Program.  It is fully commercially available by the end of this year.
For more information about TradeLens and what ecosystem participants are saying about this solution, please visit

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