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Why Real-Time Data Matters to the Maritime Industry

In the face of the current 4th industrial revolution, it is interesting to take a look what changes are taking place in the virtual space of maritime transport. This month, we wanted to share with you an article, originally posted on the Sofar Ocean website, dealing with real-time data and why it matters to the maritime industry and its on-shore and off-shore actors. 

 

Logo-SofarOcean

This article originally appeared on the Sofar Ocean website

Over 90% of the world’s trade is in the hands of the international maritime shipping industry. Every year, it moves more than USD 4 trillion of goods. For shipping companies, there’s a lot of pressure to remain on schedule, protect the cargo ship and crew, and ensure profitability. It is not an easy task.
This interactive map of the world’s main shipping routes provides a glimpse of the industry’s complexity. 90,000 vessels cross paths as they transport goods from one continent to another on a daily basis.

 

The map was created by London-based data visualisation studio Kiln and the UCL Energy Institute

It’s clear from this map that the maritime industry involves an intricate system of transportation. To complicate things, ports and vessels are also subject to the forces of nature, which are becoming harder and harder to predict. With all of these obstacles in the way, shipping companies must be able to adapt to changing situations and act fast. This is where Sofar Ocean comes in. We believe that with real-time big data analytics, however, the maritime industry can better navigate these unexpected challenges.

What is Real-Time Big Data?

Big data is a field that extracts and analyses data from data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. Real-time capabilities mean that those insights are delivered immediately after collection.

How does Real-Time Big Data Help the Maritime Industry?

Maritime companies generate data from different sources and in several formats. Traditionally, these insights are fixed, siloed, and inconsistent. Actioning this information is time-consuming and a major complication point for shipping companies.

With big data tools, this inflow of data is collated and organised in a cloud-based system. This system then analyses and extrapolates the relevant data in real-time, which promotes better decision making. Nothing is left to intuition or chance—therewith unlocking opportunities to drive greater efficiencies.

Efficient Maritime Operations and Logistics

Overall operations and logistics, for example, become much more efficient with real-time data. Companies can obtain information through GPS and RFID tags to help locate containers and ships immediately. Data technology also helps synchronise communication to manage ship arrivals, berthings, and departures safely and efficiently. And in case of an emergency, non-availability of the labour, or terminal allocations, real-time data helps ships plan their routes and speeds accordingly.

Due to climate change, this ability to pivot has never been so relevant. Although the interactive map above demonstrates that the global maritime industry is a well-oiled machine, the ocean’s climate—currents, waves, and wind—are more unpredictable than ever. Real-time data streamlines decision making and supports ad hoc navigation to ensure companies maximise returns.

Fuel-efficient routing

By having access to real-time sea state observations—currents, waves, and swell—vessel operators can re-route according to current ocean and weather conditions while optimising fuel efficiency. Inefficient weather routing oftentimes leads to the increased time spent at sea, which not only disrupts and delays the supply chain but can also increase fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

In addition to increasing voyage earnings, fuel-efficient routing also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, supporting the latest GHG reduction strategy developed in 2018 by the International Maritime Organization. The initial strategy envisages that the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. What does 50% look like? The IMO calculated that vessels released 1.12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide the year before, in 2007. So we can guess that emissions need to be reduced by 560 million metric tons. That’s equivalent to emissions from 102 million cars!

So are we saying that real-time data helps reduce fuel costs and GHG emissions? Yes, yes we are. Not a bad day at the office.

Is Real-Time Big Data Safe From Cyber Threats?

We hear this question a lot, and rightly so. The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) onboard ships—and their connection to the internet—creates an increased attack surface that requires greater cyber risk management.

On the IT side, the chances of cyberattacks can be mitigated through proper implementation of encryption techniques like blockchain technology. From an operational standpoint, IMO maintains that effective cyber risk management should start at the senior management level—embedding a culture of cyber risk awareness into all levels and departments of an organisation. You can read more about this in BIMCO’s Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships.

Full Speed Ahead for the Maritime Industry

Is it possible that the maritime industry can become bigger and better? More lucrative, while emitting less GHG emissions? We believe so.

Knowledge is power. By implementing real-time insights in daily operations, shipping companies are well-positioned to navigate anything that comes their way. And how this year has gone, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an edge on the unexpected.

Curious what real-time data looks like? Take a peek at Sofar Ocean’s publicly available weather network dashboard, which offers real-time open-ocean marine weather observation data from over 500 weather sensors worldwide!

This article was originally posted on Sofar Ocean

Smart Cities

What does living in smart cities mean for privacy?

In the 2000s we are witnessing an exponential growth of the use of information technologies – smart cities or smart ports are becoming the norm. These are slowly pervading all aspects of modern life, including smart refrigerators, smart doorbells, smart plugs, smart bathrooms, etc. The revolution has also affected a larger societal section, with smart cities and smart ports also gaining traction in progress. We have already talked about certain smart technologies that affect port operations, such as Digital Twins, Drones and Smart Containers. Nevertheless, we haven’t yet asked the question: What does this spread of smart technologies mean for us as individuals?

This month, we have caught up with Brad Smith from Turn on VPN to talk about what these advancements mean for our privacy.

If you would like to know more about what VPNs are, check out the guide written by VPN Thrive.

Then, have a look at the article by Brad Smith, reproduced below: 

 

Written by: Brad Smith

Written by: Brad Smith

The idea behind a smart city is one where technology is extensively used to improve the quality of life of people living in an urban area and ease the provision of everyday services. This can mean sophisticated connectivity across the city, automated systems, highly available online resources and so much more.

However, this kind of setup also comes with a few challenges that aren’t normally so pronounced in a traditional city with privacy being the biggest one. How does living in a modern city affect people’s rights to privacy especially in places where privacy laws are not that strict?

Smart cities trends and their privacy implications

There are certainly many components that make a modern smart city in 2020, especially the ones that are built from the ground up. However, three of them do stand out in the way they affect your privacy as you go about your day to day life. Also, keep in mind that some of these technologies have been heavily deployed in traditional cities.

Increased citywide public surveillance and tracking

There is a lot of interest in using citywide public surveillance systems in smart cities across the world. These technologies have especially taken centerstage in the Middle East, China, and some European countries. Sophisticated public surveillance and tracking technologies are being deployed in smart cities to help the authorities in enforcement efforts and for other reasons.

However, such technologies, though useful in some places, do raise a lot of questions in the way they are deployed and how they are used especially with privacy and personal freedom in focus. Indeed, the debate around citywide surveillance has attracted some fair amount of controversy with some progressive governments even going as far as banning the use of these technologies in public.

Citywide connectivity and high-speed internet

The rolling out of 5G and other connectivity solutions in smart cities is integral to their development. A smart city without a stable, high-speed internet that is accessible to everyone is not a smart city. Today, even traditional cities that are trying to transition into modern cities have put a lot of resources into communication technologies such as 5G, public Wi-Fi, and other supporting infrastructure.

Government services moving to the cloud 

A smart city must have a big percentage of government services available via the internet. Indeed, most smart city projects today are geared towards moving entire government services to the cloud. This of course means an increase in data collection.

Increased popularity of smart ports

Another smart city trend is the invention of smart ports. A smart port is one that makes use of automation and innovative technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and Big Data to improve performance. The industry of container shipping and ports has been slow on the uptake in embracing change. Still, new systems, solutions, and technologies are emerging that will change the face of shipping in the future, ensuring the sector is more connected than ever before.

The smart port aims to generate transparent and efficient services that add value to the clients. An intelligent port features automated management of all entries and exits at the terminals, monitoring, and managing queues. The smart port removes the need for paperwork during container deliveries and collections, as well as automatic lighting.

In port cities like Montreal, emerging technologies provide useful real-time data for lorries to help them plan their trips and avoid traffic congestions, and lower carbon emissions.

This real-time data and smart sensors go a long way in monitoring crucial infrastructure, enabling the port operators to schedule predictive maintenance and reduce the need for yearly inspections. The data from the sensors, such as pile head sensors in the quays, allows the ports to track the eventual tear and tear and track the impact of cargo yet to be unloaded.

Privacy concerns over today’s smart cities

All of the technologies being deployed in smart cities today require the collection of data on a large scale. This, as expected, raises a lot of questions in terms of privacy going forward for people living in these so-called smart cities. How do you ensure that your right to privacy isn’t lost when everything’s made to collect your data?

Ways to protect your privacy

One way to stay private is to use tools like a VPN or encrypted messaging software. One of the major functions of VPNs is to encrypt your data and online traffic. This is especially important when you want to stay anonymous while connecting to public networks. With a messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption, you can also keep your conversations private.

There is no doubt that living in a smart city is more convenient and sustainable than in a traditional one. As you enjoy all the benefits that come with the advanced connectivity in these urban dwellings, don’t forget the importance of staying private.

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future, a window to the world

Logo - Smart Ports

Showing the world the advances in the digitalisation and sustainability of ports is necessary to promote the development and decarbonisation of maritime-port activities. Smart City Expo World Congress, an international event focused on urban evolution and innovation, has become the ideal setting in which to do this.

Therefore, in the ninth edition held in November 2019, the Port of Barcelona organised an exhibition space called Smart Ports: Piers of the Future to which it invited the most advanced ports in the world in this field. These ports were: Antwerp, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Montreal and Rotterdam.

Smart Ports - Piers of the Future 2019

Participants at the Smart Ports: Piers of the Future event at the 2019 Smart City World Congress Expo

A new edition of Smart Ports: Piers of the Future’ is being held again this year and, as a novelty, the Port of Busan —the largest on the Korean peninsula— will also be present.

This time, due to the current pandemic, ‘Smart City Expo World Congress’ will be held in a virtual format called Smart City Live 2020. Similarly, ‘Smart Ports: Piers of the Future’ has developed its own 100% online platform where you can stream the event. The event will take place on November 17 and 18 under the motto ‘Thinking Ahead, Globally’.

The Smart Ports: Piers of the Future agenda includes topics such as: Digital Playbook, Innovative Technologies, Cybersecurity, Energy Transition, Smart Piers Cities and Blockchain, among others. In addition, as a partner of Smart City Live 2020, Smart Ports is collaborating on a panel to discuss ‘smart ports’ – ‘smart cities’. Jordi Torrent (Strategy Director of the Port of Barcelona), Jens Meier (CEO of the Port of Hamburg) and Gene Seroka (CEO of the Port of Los Angeles) will take part in this debate.

Smart Ports 2020 is emerging as the ideal opportunity for the exchange of ideas, projects and initiatives related to the sector, and will act as a global partner of Smart City Expo World Congress. It is an event of global relevance that seeks to give visibility to proposals, business models and innovation, focused on ports and their relationship with the world. This event will serve to show the importance of having a smart and digitalised port, committed to the environment but, above all, connected with the inhabitants of their cities and the planet.

Improving Ocean Shipping: Blockchain Reaction

Blockchain technology is capturing interest across the supply chain, and the maritime industry is no exception. Nine ocean carriers and terminal operators are so interested that they recently formed a consortium to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), an open digital platform based on distributed ledger technology.

Participants in the consortium include CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen Marine, OOCL, and Yang Ming as well as terminal operators DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA International Ltd., and Shanghai International Port.

“The new platform, an ecosystem for the shipping community, will connect all shareholders including ocean carriers, terminal operators, customs authorities, shippers, and logistics providers to realize collaborative innovation and digital transformation in the supply chain,” according to a Yang Ming spokesman.

These goals are similar to the expectations expressed by Maersk and Kuehne + Nagel, early adopters of blockchain technology.

In January 2018, A. P. Moller-Maersk and IBM announced plans to pursue blockchain solutions. Then in August 2018, the two companies collaborated to create TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution.

Ninety-four organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate in the TradeLens ecosystem, including 20 port and terminal operators accounting for approximately 234 marine gateways worldwide, Additionally, customs authorities, freight forwarders, and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) have joined.

Freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel participates in a blockchain consortium consisting of consultancy Accenture, ocean carrier APL, and shipper AB InBev.

In its most basic form, blockchain is “shared ledger technology” enabling a single, shared, tamper-proof ledger, according to IBM. Once recorded, transactions cannot be altered. Anticipated benefits include less paper processing, increased transaction time speed, and improved efficiencies.

Although it is often used as a single technology, there are two different types of blockchain: public and private. Some of the most commonly known public blockchains are the cryptocurrency ones used for bitcoin transactions. Because these are completely transparent, participants are concerned about dealing with sensitive information, such as commercial contracts.

CARING ABOUT SHARING

Sharing the exact details of contracts and transactions is problematic for freight forwarders, ocean carriers, and shippers. These various stakeholders may collaborate with each other, but not with their competitors. This level of transparency may be an issue with supply chain strategy increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies and freight forwarders seeking differentiation in a crowded and fragmented market.

While a consistent wave of ocean carrier consolidation has occurred in the past few years, the remaining players still compete for volume. Empty containers do not generate revenue.

Private blockchains allow users different permission levels, so access can be restricted, and information can be encrypted to adapt to users’ needs.

Transporting goods internationally can become complex, both in terms of physical distribution and cross-border data exchange. Documents related to hazardous cargo, invoicing, cargo release, and other required customs information are vital to the actual movement of goods.

One missing or inaccurate form can keep freight from being delivered. Unlike domestic U.S.-based transportation, global shippers cannot immediately contact a provider and have a new truck dispatched within moments or hours to avert the supply chain implications of a missed or delayed delivery.

One reason the maritime industry is embracing blockchain is to “reform document processes of shipping management,” says a Yang Ming spokesman. The first prototype of GSBN allows shippers to digitize their documents and proceed to automatically exchange data with relevant supply chain parties. This simplifies the complicated documentation process and expedites the delivery of goods.

THE BUSINESS CASE

“Blockchain might not be able to solve, cure, or save everything as the hype suggests, but there are certainly applications where the business case makes sense,” says Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM and a supply chain technology analyst. “It makes sense in global trade because of the many different parties, documents, regulations, and financial transactions involved.”

HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS USED IN OCEAN FREIGHT

Kuehne + Nagel’s first blockchain activities date back to 2016, when the concept received board-level support and it began case identification workshop.

“Our approach is to work with customers and business partners on real-world use cases in open and collaborative consortia,” says Inge Ole Ottemoller, senior IT https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/improving-ocean-shipping-blockchain-reaction/consultant and blockchain expert for Kuehne + Nagel. “Using new technologies such as blockchain is an element of business strategy to continuously improve our processes as well as the business model.”

Fast forward to 2019, and Kuehne + Nagel states there is much work still to be done to achieve the promise of blockchain technology. “Blockchain has the potential to enable further digitalization of existing processes,” Ottemoller notes. “But the technology is still at a very early stage.” .

“With the experience already gained, the technology used at the present time does not yet have the maturity for productive use in extensive, complex applications,” he adds. “In particular, the requirements for maintainability and automated operation are hardly met.”

However, some successes have come from its blockchain consortium, which has focused on one central document in ocean freight: the bill of lading. “The consortium already developed a proof-of-concept for an electronic bill of lading use case from export and import to a common blockchain-based ledger,” reports Kuehne + Nagel.

This group effort “demonstrated how the application of blockchain for issuing and exchanging bills of lading can unleash huge efficiencies for the industry due to seamless and tamper-proof data integration,” says Ottemoller. “The need for printed shipping documents is rendered obsolete.”

Maersk also reports benefits from its adoption of blockchain technology, and specifically, the TradeLens application.

The platform has captured more than 154 million shipping events, including arrival times of vessels and container “gate-in,” and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices, and bills of lading. In the past, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems shared some of this data in the supply chain.

The TradeLens platform has already proven to be effective. One example Maersk reports is a 40 percent reduction in transit times to ship packaging materials to a production line, avoiding thousands of dollars in costs.

The GSBN consortium hopes to achieve these types of real-world supply chain enhancements. “We are always willing to try innovative technologies to keep up with the digital transformation of the shipping industry in collaboration with others,” says a Yang Ming spokesman.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCKCHAIN

The blockchain “revolution” has also lured new players to the market, such as CargoX, a company that created a neutral, open, independent platform available to ocean carriers and other stakeholders. While other consortiums may be limited in the ability to expand or onboard new carriers, “Our platform solves these issues, as it is based on a neutral, open, public Ethereum blockchain network,” notes Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX.

Although public, the CargoX platform is secure because the transparency it provides, “only relates to the transparency of time-stamps of certain transactions,” Kukman says. “What is being translated is completely invisible, as the content of the documents and data fields is encrypted and secured from unauthorized viewing.”

Recently, CargoX customer ShipChain completed a successful blockchain-based pilot shipping initiative with Perdue Farms. During the pilot, ShipChain tracked Perdue fleet data and recorded it in the Ethereum blockchain.

Early adopters such as Kuehne + Nagel remain optimistic about the future of blockchain and the maritime industry. The freight forwarder is using the application in the areas of workflow, trade finance, provenance, and visibility.

THE RIGHT DIRECTION

“The development points in the right direction, so it can be assumed that the technology will reach the required level of maturity in the future,” says Ottemoller. “Thanks to the project experience already gained, Kuehne + Nagel is in a position to have an educated judgement on the state of play for this new technology.”

The many companies adopting blockchain platforms share a common vision of the technology’s benefits to the supply chain, and the ocean freight sector specifically. These include:

  • Reduced paper-based processes
  • Reduced waiting time
  • Faster transit times
  • Transparency across processes and company boundaries

QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

As additional new entities enter the same space with unique platforms, however, reaching these goals may be a challenge for shippers.

With providers ranging from ocean carriers to freight forwarders to software companies offering different options for blockchain platforms and consortiums, how does a shipper that does not want to work with only one provider deal with the challenge of enabling integration and interoperability between those platforms? With multiple groups working to establish global shipping standards, which standards will ultimately benefit shippers most?

Gonzalez also raises another area of potential concern: Can any technology, new or dated, overcome bad data? “It’s important to note that blockchain doesn’t erase the fact that supply chains still suffer from crappy data,” Gonzalez cautions. “It doesn’t erase the integration challenge of aggregating, cleansing, and linking together data that is spread out across many different applications.

“Some were built in the 1970s, across many companies and countries, some with limited or no IT capabilities and stored in many different formats, including email and faxes,” he adds. “In short, blockchain by itself does not solve the problem of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ data quality problems, but it is a distributed ledger that is better encrypted and traceable.”

DIGITALIZATION AGENDA

Other issues beyond the scope of blockchain alone need to be resolved to improve efficiency in the ocean freight industry. “Digitalization and blockchain are not synonyms,” notes Kukman. “They are tightly connected because the shipping industry is lagging behind in its digital processing.

“But blockchain implementation is just a part of the whole digitalization agenda,” he adds. “And digitalization as such is inevitable—it is time that the paper processing machinery is transformed into modern, trustworthy digital solutions.”

Whether using a CargoX platform or another application for blockchain, the ocean freight industry must embrace technology to “deal with the problems that arise from the snail’s pace of transferring paper documents,” Kukman states. Paper documents can be damaged, lost, or even forged or stolen.

“Those ocean carriers that don’t embrace digitalization will start losing their market share,” predicts Kukman. “Global trade relies on digital data and new services, and this reliance will just get stronger. The carriers that decide to adopt blockchain know what the advantages are.”

End customers will have the greatest benefit in knowing where existing documents, transactions and goods are located, as well as whose turn it is to make the next step in the process,” Kukman adds.

Additional benefits for end users are likely to be realized in the area of forecasting. “The CargoX platform provides new ways of analyzing past business events to support forecasting loads and volume, identifying throughput bottlenecks, and other issues,” Kukman says.

One of the biggest impediments to blockchain and other forms of digitalization is the fact that many companies still rely on paper processes because “that’s the way it has always been done.” That kind of thinking is what will determine winners from losers in the future because, says Kukman, “We don’t ride horses for transportation anymore, do we?”

Source: Inbound Logistics

Automation forces Spain to introduce structural changes in logistics

The transport and logistics sectors are currently in the process of automation. In the coming decades it will undergo deeper transformations, which will test the reaction capacities of countries such as Spain. “We must be creative in changing our way of thinking. There is a lot of work to be done in the short term, in short electoral cycles, by survey, and there are structural changes that must be applied in the medium and long term, “says Inprous CEO and president of Pimec Logística, Ignasi Sayol.

For his part Miquel Serracanta, the founder of the consulting firm Solutions & Decisions, put the emphasis on how the increase in competition “has caused a very important fall in prices both in the trunk and in capillary transport”, so that the carriers that have increased in size have started to search for synergies and efficiencies in their supply chains in parallel. For this reason, he considers that it is necessary to prepare for changes such as the electric and autonomous vehicles, since “they will substantially modify our environment in the next ten years”.

Globally, transformations will involve changes in jobs and new trends will be developed that will improve the efficiency of deliveries. Although technological advances will be inevitable, they will occur gradually and will vary according to the region. These are some of the results published in the new report prepared by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU).

Evolution vs Revolution

Although the report foresees that the automation of global transport is more “evolutionary” than “revolutionary”, Sayol affirms that “the irruption of technology in logistics will radically change the way we do things”. Gradual changes are expected in transport patterns that will affect the different regions of the world. According to Serracanta, autonomous vehicles “will not arrive for another five or ten years and will do so progressively, coexisting therefore, with difficulties, with vehicles driven by humans.”

The partner founder of Solutions & Decisions foresees that automation will make roads safer and that fewer accidents and traffic jams will occur, “with which the reliability of compliance with deliveries will increase”.

Sayol points out that logistics 4.0 will be an opportunity for developing countries, “because they can implement it without the mortgages that exist in developed countries.”

“Automation will probably reduce the differences between developed and developing countries in the medium and long term, once the latter can be added to the technology train,” says Serracanta. However, it considers that in the short term it is possible to increase them, especially in terms of road and rail transport: “Those who are in the process of development may not be able to start this road yet due to previous pending issues, as indispensable basic infrastructures”.
Worldwide, it is expected that transportation routes will also change if situations such as a hypothetical stagnation of China or the growth of Mexico are consolidated. If confirmed these trends, directly affect the GDP of the countries. However, this forecast does not apply to long-distance maritime transport, which will continue to be the main means in terms of scale and volume of goods transported. In contrast, a reduction in road transport is expected both in the EU and in the countries of Southeast Asia, as well as growth in the maritime sector, because “it is still in an early stage of transformation,” according to the study.
The Impact of Automation on employment
Automation will impact the transport sector through the destruction, displacement and creation of jobs. Workers will be affected differently according to their level of skill and preparation, with the least educated being the most affected. This will require the retraining of professionals such as cargo agents and crane operators so that they can work complementarily with this technology, notes the report of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU). However, despite the high levels of automation, human resources will still be necessary, especially in cases where people provide additional value.
“The challenge will be twofold, for the companies that have them on staff and for the worker himself, who must improve his own employability with additional training if he does not want to lose possibilities in his current and future position,” says Serracanta. “The repetitive tasks and added low value are the first at risk of being replaced by robots, and workers who today are the first to be recycled.” In fact, today automated metro lines are already operating, such as the one that connects the city of Barcelona with its airport, or the one that connects the two passenger terminals of the Frankfurt airport in Germany.
Logistics 4.0
In addition to the automation of vehicles, infrastructures and processes, the new logistics 4.0 will allow technologies such as Big Data or artificial intelligence to be progressively applied to know what the client wants, anticipate demand and position stocks at the suitable point. “It sounds like science fiction, but it’s already a reality,” says Sayol.
The CEO of Inprous also includes the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain in this group, which “will enable the creation of dis-intermediated and efficient marketplaces that allow for optimisation and secures the available transport resources”. Finally, “more complex technologies to apply in reality” will exist, including platooning. “Here the time horizon of implementation is more difficult to get right, as it is subject to the legislation of each country and investments in infrastructure that inevitably must be made,” he explains.
According to Serracanta, this automation and logistics 4.0 will also allow for the “reduction of consumption and fuelling of large trucks, because they are more efficient than humans, with which there will be less CO2 emissions and the environment will appreciate it”. Thus, an evolution is foreseen in the logistics transport sector that will bring economic benefits and that will entail new regulations, a greater technological preparation and the development of new skills and dynamics in the labor market.
Source: El Mercantil

The Evolution of Maritime Blockchain

The market for blockchain-based solutions, especially with regard to container shipping and the global supply chain, has become highly competitive.

This PTI Insight will explore the range of options available to businesses operating within the maritime sector, and how industry leaders are staking their own claim in the quest for an optimal platform to transfer documentation, data, and ultimately reconfigure trading practices themselves.

An Overview

While Maersk and IBM’sTradeLens platform has garnered the most headlines in recent months, promising to deliver more efficient and secure global trade, major companies are not the only players dictating the progress of the technological development.

Start-up organisations, such as CargoX, are providing neutral solutions for businesses of any size, allowing shippers, freight-forwarders and logistics companies to benefit from the more reliable and trustworthy trade networks facilitated by blockchain.

Leading ports and terminals, which play a pivotal role in the global supply chain, are also joining the wave of new companies integrating blockchain into their business operations.

This includes the Port of Veracruz in Mexico, which is inaugurating a blockchain project to improve the safety and security of freight transportation. It is not the only centre of trade taking this step.

The Major Players

It is not surprising that the most prominent members of the shipping community want to shape the future of the industry.

The aforementioned Maersk and IBM clearly harbour an intention to lead the way on blockchain. Not only has Maersk secured the cooperation of 94 ‘early adopters’, but 234 marine gateways around the world have also agreed to use the platform, which will offer real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data.

Although this solution has received massive support, other leading carriers, terminal operators and supply chain specialists have shown they are prepared to challenge the status quo.

In November 2018, news of a nine-party consortium to develop blockchain, including COSCO, CMA CGM, DP World and PSA International, emerged from Shanghai.

While this assembly of companies has not yet formulated a product to contend with the TradeLens service, such a powerful union of influential maritime leaders could represent the first serious challenge to Maersk and IBM’s potential blockchain dominance.

A Start-Up Challenger

Despite the sheer scale of Maersk and IBM’s TradeLens initiative, and the possible implications of a multi-party blockchain consortium, there are companies independent of those major players attempting to secure their position in the blockchain marketplace.

One of those businesses is CargoX, a Slovenia-based company specializing in the ‘Smart Bill of Lading’. In November 2018, it officially launched the Smart B/L platform, which is described as “the first open and neutral blockchain platform in the shipping industry for real-world commercial use”.

CargoX has emphasized the difference between its platform and TradeLens, which “relies on a private blockchain infrastructure” that is “much more prone to manipulation”.

As for a nine-party blockchain consortium, CargoX has suggested that “decision-making processes” could “run much slower than expected”.

So what are the benefits of an alternative platform like Smart B/L? According to CargoX, which highlights how “the real-time market is becoming more and more dynamic”, its own blockchain service is “simple to use” and can be adapted to “virtually any workflow or process”.

The company, a prominent member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), has also offered a vision of the future: “In five to ten years, most maritime shipping documentation will be provided through blockchain technology, just like people switched from sending paper letters to sending email for important, business-critical messaging”.

Ports and Blockchain

As the future of logistics and trade curves towards the digital, including the rising prominence of blockchain platforms, ports and terminals are aiming to adapt to this new landscape.

For many of these vital supply chain nodes, Maersk and IBM’s TradeLens has proven the most attractive proposition, with Valenciaport, the Port of Montreal and multiple APM Terminals locations recently connecting to the solution.

According to Valenciaport, “the developers of TradeLens have indicated that the information contained in this system grows at the rate of one million daily data shipments”, underlining the vast distribution capabilities of the service.

On the other hand, some ports are taking it upon themselves to develop viable blockchain solutions.

Working alongside Samsung SDS and ABN AMRO, the Port of Rotterdam is trying to leverage blockchain technology to boost transparency and efficiency.

A pilot project, set to commence in January 2019, involves the multi-modal transport of a container from a factory in Asia to the Netherlands, testing the three companies’ cooperative network and forming the basis for “an open, independent and global platform that operates from the perspective of shippers”.

Emphasising the importance of collaboration, Sanghun Lee of Samsung SDS revealed that “for the first time in the rather short history of this technology, we can have different blockchains operating together”.

Future Developments

As Nadia Hewett of the World Economic Forum suggested at PTI’s recent Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies Conference (SPSCT) 2018, “blockchain within the supply chain is a solution still managed by IT teams”. So why must the rest of the industry become more aware of this technology?

Oliver Haines, Vice President of BiTA Europe, has revealed that “widespread adoption will not be driven by one or two platforms alone no matter how big the companies involved are, particularly with the industry being so fragmented”.

Instead, as Haines asserts, the industry must collaborate to “drive forward standards and best practices which will, in turn, maximise benefits.”

BiTA, the largest commercial blockchain alliance in the world, has also expressed its delight that “major international shipping companies” are deciding to leverage blockchain technology as an essential part of their logistics operations, although the speed of progress remains uncertain.

Whether a uniform solution develops sooner or later, Haines predicts that “the market will go through significant changes”, bringing about “more transparency, trust and efficiency than ever before.”

Source: Port Technology

Blockchain Solution for Shipping has Ports, Container Lines, Forwarding Agents and Customs On Board

However Not All Are So Enthusiastic About Who Handles Their Data

DENMARK – US – WORLDWIDE – Having initially announced their collaboration on a blockchain technology project two year’s ago, partners in the arrangement AP Möller Maersk and IBM, have finally go round to christening it, TradeLens, and since formally launching the ‘joint collaboration’ as they call it, at the beginning of this year, it seems they have been busily signing up interested parties, from port operators to logistics agencies, customs authorities and even rival ocean container freight carriers.

So far ninety four different organisations have put their faith in the project which is being marketed as a neutral platform which, having been trialled up to this point, is intended to become commercially viable by the end of the year. To emphasise this is not a joint venture in the true sense of the term each of the two founding partners will retain the revenue from the operations which they sign up.

Whilst TradeLens is what is becoming the classic model for a blockchain project within the industry, and based on the well proven Linux open source operating system coupled with Linux developed Hyperledger technology, similarly open sourced, doubtless not everybody will be comfortable with the management strategy. Maersk and IBM say the system establishes a single view of a transaction en route whilst maintaining security enabling participants to establish the exact status of a consignment.

The information is as detailed as possible, with sensors checking and relaying geographical, temperature and mass information remotely whilst establishing customs status, document and data specifics etc. The delays inherent in current systems could be seen immediately by all interested parties and Maersk and IBM claim delays reduced on trial shipments amounted to up to 40% time savings, with consequent cost reductions.

Obviously with Maersk and subsidiaries Hamburg Süd and APM Terminals involved the amount of data which has been processed since trials began is huge. Over 150 million shipping activities have been recorded on the platform in the one year period and the partners now say this has grown to approaching one million events every day.The system has received praise from some of its earliest participants which include freight forwarders and logistics specialists Damco, Agility and Ceva. Xavier Urbain, CEO of Ceva Logistics commented recently:

“We see great potential in TradeLens because it provides real-time access to all parties involved in the supply chain. It’s a big step in building a global market standard for blockchain solutions.”

However not everyone who is a possible stakeholder is quite so enthusiastic at handing over all their confidential data to a potential rival, particularly in the light of the cyber attackswe have seen against major players, including Maersk, in the industry of late. Both CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd have expressed reservations about TradeLens in its current form with Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen commenting:

”Technically the solution 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. And 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, without a joint solution, we’re going to waste a lot of money, and that would benefit no one.”

Source: Handy Shipping Guide.

Blockchain use for fuel supply traceability

Blockchain technology looks set to increase transparency and traceability in the marine fuel supply chain to create better compliance and stronger governance.

A new consortium will demonstrate the application of blockchain as a means of facilitating transparency as part of the maritime-focused Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL) initiative

“We are delighted to be involved with a consortium that could play an important role in realising the transformative potential of blockchain within shipping, beginning with a timely and relevant first use case in the bunker industry,” said Grant Hunter, head of contracts & clauses at BIMCO, one of the consortium partners.

“Blockchain “Smart Contracts” based on harmonised terms and conditions like the BIMCO Bunker Terms 2018 could be a stepping stone for the industry to achieve greater transparency and efficiency.”

Evaluation

The consortium will bring together Lloyd’s Register, Precious Shipping, Bostomar, BIMCO, International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), and GoodFuels.

It will evaluate how blockchain technologies could help to provide an efficient, tamper-resistant and auditable chain of custody on quality and quantity recording activities, together with a reputation system of the compliance of fuels prior to purchase, benefitting both buyers and regulatory bodies.

Such characteristics help to provide greater confidence in the fuel being purchased, ultimately resulting in reduced safety risk and creating a more trustworthy framework for accurately monitoring emissions from shipping such as sulphur and carbon.

The project represents the initial stage of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation-funded MBL initiative, the first true industry collaboration for the creation of blockchain technology in the maritime space.

Source: The Motorship

blockchain

Blockchain potential in Transport and Logistics

Blockchain could become very useful in eliminating intermediaries in the supply chain and in improving collaboration with traffic authorities in the management of incidents and crises.

Blockchain can provide solutions today and in the near future in different areas, though in the case of transport it still has long way to go to become a useful technology.

This has been highlighted during the information day organised by the Center for Transport Studies in the Western Mediterranean, Cetmo, which seeks to deepen new practical applications in transport and logistics.

In the case of ports, this technology can make a big difference if the bill of lading is digitised, which would bring decentralisation, security and immutability and would significantly reduce the costs and risks in port operations.

In terms of electric vehicles, it can play a relevant role in both mobility and energy through smart contracts, which make management of last mile routes possible.

The application of this technology in the energy field is linked to the creation of solar communities that take advantage of the sun’s energy to complement their electricity consumption by creating community micro-networks. Taking advantage of this surplus energy to recharge electric vehicles, a really renewable source of energy for mobility would be created.

Open and decentralised mobility

In the transport sector, there are both small companies trying to gain market share and companies with a monopoly vocation. In this context, blockchain can contribute to the creation of an open, decentralised, multimodal and multi-provider mobility market.

Motorways, as well as roads in general, are undergoing a necessary process of digitisation that will help them address traffic growth, innovation in road technology and smart mobility.

Blockchain could be useful when eliminating intermediaries in the supply chain or for monitoring works, and to improve collaboration with traffic authorities in the management of incidents and crises. Finally, it will open the door to new payment systems that could be more accurate, applying discounts according to the weather or the state of the roads.

In the more immediate present, the processes have begun to have an impact in areas such as freight transport and logistics, thanks to the reduction of procedures, while in passenger transport, they do not cause prominent disruptions.

Source: Cadena de Suministro