Pacific International Lines, IBM Partner To Create Electronic Bill Of Lading Using Blockchain

Blockchain, News | October 4, 2018 By:

Singapore-based shipping company Pacific International Lines (PIL) has teamed with IBM to explore how blockchain technology can enhance the documentation process in supply chain management.

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Chang Yun Chung in 1967, PIL is the world’s ninth top containership operator and one of the largest ship-owners in South-east Asia. It owns and operates with a fleet of around 180 container and multi-purpose vessels. It employs over 18,000 staff globally, regularly serving about 500 ports in nearly 100 countries worldwide.

PIL and IBM will be conducting a blockchain trial to design and create an electronic bill of lading, a legal document between a shipper and a carrier that details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried. The trial is supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore Shipping Association, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore Customs (National TradePlatform), and the Bank of China’s Singapore branch.

Under present practices, the seller issues the bill of lading which may take weeks to be delivered to the owner of the cargo, who then uses it to claim the cargo. PIL said this process is vulnerable to fraud and loss of the document, resulting in much inefficiency across the supply chain. To improve the process, PIL and IBM will create an electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) to streamline and replicate the paper trail online on IBM’s blockchain platform.

Lisa Teo, Executive Director of PIL, said that as an international shipping company, they believe they have a role to play in enhancing efficiencies within the intermodal transport logistics ecosystem, adding that the e-BL project is a big step forward for the company.

“Traditionally, information flow is predominantly handled via manual processes and the supply chain is slowed down when there are many points of communication within its framework,” Teo said. “The use of blockchain technology to allow for the direct exchange of documents and information via the decentralised network to boost transparency, eliminate disputes forgeries and unnecessary risks will be key for this industry to progress.”

A number of companies have also proposed migrating the bill of lading creation and distribution process to a blockchain. In July of this year, shipping blockchain solutions provider CargoX successfully completed the electronic issuance of a bill of lading for a shipment of garments from China to Slovenia. At the time, CargoX said that the cost to produce and transfer the bill of lading to relevant parties via its public blockchain solution was 85 percent less expensive than the traditional means of doing so through courier services.