Hong Kong’s Modern Terminals To Trial IBM-Maersk Blockchain Shipping Platform

Blockchain, News | November 26, 2018 By:

Container terminal operator Modern Terminals is participating in the trial of TradeLens, a blockchain solution jointly developed for the global shipping industry by AP Moller-Maersk and tech giant IBM.

Modern Terminals, the second largest container terminal operator in Hong Kong, operates terminal 1, 2, 5 and 9 (South) in Kwai Tsing Container Terminals in Hong Kong, and also sets up joint-venture in container terminals in Shenzhen, Guangdong and Taicang, Jiangsu in Mainland China. It aslo holds an equity stake in V-LOGIC, a company which provides global retailers with cost-effective logistics infrastructure, warehousing and MIS support.

First announced in January of this year, TradeLens seeks to digitize and streamline processes in the global supply chain to deliver higher efficiency and lower cost. the platform brings together various parties to support information sharing and transparency, and spur industry-wide innovation. TradeLens is scheduled for a roll-out at the end of this year.

The objective of Modern Terminals’ participation as a network member is to evaluate the performance of TradeLens and to offer suggestions on where the technology can improve.

“That is the Holy Grail – one place to see the whole [supply chain] in one spot,” said Modern Terminals’ managing director Peter Levesque, during an interview with the South China Morning Post. “The platform would be the single system that shippers, freight forwarders, imports and terminal operators can all work with.”

TradeLens uses blockchain to create an industry standard for the secure digitization and transmission of supply chain documents around the world. A Maersk spokesperson said that an estimated 1 million ship movements are captured everyday in the system, with nearly 240 million customs releases, invoices and bills of lading on the system as of November 23.

Levesque said they decided to embrace blockchain because it will allow them to speed up customs clearance.

“Without blockchain, you’re going on faith that what’s on the document is what’s in the container,” Levesque said. “We shouldn’t walk away from our history [as a port city]. We need to go on the offence and being part of a smart city makes sense.”

While the TradeLens ecosystem currently includes more than 20 port and terminal operators across the globe, it was reported last month that the platform was struggling to gain traction with other carriers as Maersk’s rival shipping carriers are concerned about joining the initiative on a less than equal footing. Execs at carrier giants Hapag Lloyd and CMA CGM had warned against platforms that one firm controlled, calling for wider governance.

“Technically the solution (by Maersk and IBM) could be a good platform, but it will require a governance that makes it an industry platform and not just a platform for Maersk and IBM,” Hapag Lloyd CEO Rolf Jansen is reported to have told a conference. “This is the weakness we’re currently seeing in many of these initiatives, as each individual project claims to offer an industry platform that they themselves control. This is self-contradictory.”