April 19, 2018 149By Frankie Crowhurst
“This would be the biggest innovation in the industry since the containerisation…It basically brings more transparency and efficiency. The container shipping lines are coming out of their shells and playing catch-up in technology.”So just how will using blockchain technology help? It is essentially a ledger system which will allow the transactions to all be verified autonomously. The great news is that applying this would create benefits that wouldn’t be just assigned to the shipping market. The shipping market is notorious for its huge paper trail, which begins as soon as a cargo owner actually books space on a ship, resulting in one single shipment requiring hundreds of pages that have to be physically delivered to different agencies, banks and customs bureaus. This was evident when a refrigerator container was tracked travelling from Kenya to the Netherlands. Almost 30 people and organisations were involved in the whole process, which took about 34 days to complete. This process was delayed when a vital document went missing along the way – eventually to be found amid a pile of papers. Instead of transitioning into electronic forms, the industry has instead relied on advances in transport technology, such as the vessels used, along with the boxes used to carry the cargo. This transition will not be without problems though, due to the fact that ships will often hold thousands of products from different suppliers to customers in many countries moving to a uniform electronic system will present some major challenges. Even if the shipping lines can come to an agreement about using a uniform electronic system, the shipping lines will then have to persuade the ports and organisations involved in the trading to also adopt their systems. Some companies have agreed to this though, and it is estimated that the costs savings could be visible in approximately two years time.