IBM, the global tech giant that employees more than 3,000 people across the island of Ireland, has partnered with Maersk, the European shipping and logistics firm that has a significant commercial presence in Belfast, to develop a blockchain technology designed to help transform the global, cross-border supply chain.
Ninety per cent of globally traded goods are currently carried around the world by the ocean shipping industry each year. The new blockchain solution from IBM and Maersk will help manage and track the enormous paper trail linked to these tens of millions of containers, digitising the supply chain process through a cryptographically secure distributed ledger.
Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, Industry Platforms, IBM, said: “Working closely with Maersk for years, we’ve long understood the challenges facing the supply chain and logistics industry and quickly recognized the opportunity for blockchain to potentially provide massive savings when used broadly across the ocean shipping industry ecosystem. Bringing together our collective expertise, we created a new model the industry will be able to use to help improve the transparency and efficiency of delivering goods around the globe.”
Based on the Linux Foundation's open source Hyperledger Fabric, the two companies believe their new distributed ledger technology could save the shipping and logistics industry billions of dollars when adopted at scale.
When it’s launched later this year the new blockchain has the potential to create transparency for each party involved in the global shipping process, and is also expected to help reduce fraud and errors, cut the time products spend in transit, improve inventory management and ultimately cut costs and reduce waste.
“As a global integrator of container logistics with the ambition to digitize global trade, 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,” said Ibrahim Gokcen, chief digital officer, Maersk. “The projects we are doing with IBM aim at exploring a disruptive technology such as blockchain to solve real customer problems and create new innovative business models for the entire industry. We expect the solutions we are working on will not only reduce the cost of goods for consumers, but also make global trade more accessible to a much larger number of players from both emerging and developed countries.”