Danish shipping giant Maersk and American technology company International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) plan to develop a blockchain solution to help digitize the global supply chain for the shipping industry. 


The duo intends to work with a network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to build the new solution, which is expected to go into production later this year.

As disclosed, the solution is expected to reduce fraud and errors, reduce the time products spend in the transit and shipping process, improve inventory management and reduce waste and cost.

“We are excited about this cooperation and its potential to bring substantial efficiency and productivity gains to global supply chains, while decreasing fraud and increasing security,” Ibrahim Gokcen, Chief Digital Officer, Maersk, pointed out.

For shippers, the planned solution can help reduce trade documentation and processing costs and help eliminate delays associated with errors in the physical movement of paperwork. It can also provide visibility of the container as it advances through the supply chain, according to IBM.

For customs authorities, the solution is intended to give real-time visibility, improving the information available for risk analysis and targeting, which may eventually lead to increased safety and security as well as greater efficiency in border inspection clearance procedures, IBM explained.

“We believe that this new supply chain solution will be a transformative technology with the potential to completely disrupt and change the way global trade is done,” Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Industry Platforms, IBM, said.

The solution enables the real-time exchange of original supply chain events and documents through a digital infrastructure that connects participants in a supply chain ecosystem. Developed by Maersk and IBM, the solution is based on the open source Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric.

An industry standard API for the centralized sharing of data and shipping information via the cloud was originally conceived by Frank Heijmann, Head of Trade Relations, Customs Administration of the Netherlands, and David Hesketh, Head of Customs Research and Development, HM Revenue and Customs. In cooperation with the European Commission services, it was further developed under the EU FP7 CORE demonstrator project.