A shipment of mandarin oranges has been successfully shipped from Singapore to China using an electronic bill of lading (e-BL) built on the IBM blockchain platform for real-time tracking.
The trial was carried out by Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), which said the technology reduced the administrative process of transferring the title deed from several days to just one second.
The bill of lading is one of the most crucial documents used in international trade, typically issued by a shipping carrier to document the title or ownership of goods. It also functions as a receipt of goods and a contract of the shipment.
Combining e-BL with blockchain technology promises to help companies reduce their document processing times to almost zero, with an instantaneous digital transfer of the bill of lading for their cargo, IBM said.
Hupco Pte, a major importer of mandarin oranges, took part in the e-BL trial as the consignee of 3,000 cartons of the fruit.
Tay Khiam Back, chairman and CEO of Hupco, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the trial. By using the e-BL, we have seen how the entire shipment process can be simplified and made more transparent with considerable cost savings.
"Our customers can expect their orders in a more timely manner, and, importantly, with freshness assured.”
As well as being about to collect its goods faster, IBM said Hupco also benefited from lower operating costs, stronger provenance and real-time visibility of documents which is both traceable and tamper-proof, and greater security by helping prevent document fraud, which comprises 40% of all maritime fraud.
The live trial follows the e-BL Proof of Concept which was announced in October 2018. The live trial is an important milestone because it validates how the system works in real-time conditions, IBM said.
Lisa Teo, executive director of PIL, said: “We are pleased with the steady progress of our blockchain collaboration with IBM. To-date, we have received very positive feedback from the industry and authorities, and we are enthused by the possibilities of how our blockchain developments can transform and inject a much-needed boost in efficiency and innovation into the industry.”
Harriet Green, CEO and chairman of IBM Asia Pacific, said: “A blockchain-based trade network will be a game-changer, and we have a great opportunity here with our partner PIL to revolutionize the documentation processes in a way that benefits the entire industry.
"Powered by blockchain, the e-BL developed by the IBM Research Singapore will be critical in helping to establish an extensible ecosystem for trade, thus expectedly enhancing trade efficiency and building trusted trade relationships among the industry players.”