A blockchain-based IBM partnership with global shipping colossus Maersk has now expanded to include 94 partners, Big Blue said Thursday. That includes shippers, customs houses, ports and others who have to wrangle paperwork as containers full of goods move around the world.
The result is shipping times that dropped a whopping 40 percent on average, according to Marie Wieck, who leads IBM’s 1,600-employee blockchain work.
That’s the kind of improvement that every inventory manager and bean-counter in accounting loves — and ultimately, lower prices for anyone buying that TV or those flowers.
Six decades ago, the standard-size shipping container famously revolutionized shipping. Blockchain could do the same thing. “We believe it has the potential to have the same amount of impact on the process,” Wieck said.
Under its new strategy, which includes the creation of an industry-wide blockchain-based trading platform, Maersk aims to expand its transport and logistics business in areas such as freight forwarding and trade finance.
It wants to provide end-to-end solutions for customers rather than just shipping a container from port to port.
Success of the platform depends on whether Maersk and IBM can convince industry players to sign up.
Port operators in Singapore, Hong Kong and Rotterdam, customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru, and container carrier Pacific International Lines (PIL) are among the companies and organizations that have joined the platform, Maersk and IBM said in a joint statement.
The platform named TradeLens aims to help manage and track the paper trail by digitizing the supply chain process from end to end.
More than $4 trillion in goods are shipped each year, and more than 80 percent of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry, Maersk said earlier this year.