PIL, IBM to Create Electronic Bill of Lading

Singapore shipping company Pacific International Lines (PIL) plans to collaborate with IBM Singapore (IBM) in another blockchain trial to design and create an electronic bill of lading which is expected to enhance the documentation process in supply chain management.

The PIL-IBM collaboration is supported by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore Shipping Association, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore Customs (National TradePlatform), and Bank of China Limited Singapore Branch (BOC).

A bill of lading is the crucial piece of documentation in the facilitation of international trade as it contains legal and commercial information including the evidence of the contract of carriage, receipt of goods and title of the goods.

Traditionally, it is a physical document which banks rely on to provide trade financing. The bill of lading is usually mailed to various parties leaving it open to fraud, loss of the original document and document handling costs resulting in much inefficiency across the supply chain.

To improve the process, PIL and IBM have proposed using an electronic bill of lading (e-BL) to streamline and replicate the paper trail online on a blockchain ledger created by IBM.

The e-BL will do away with the hard copy paper trail, cut unnecessary handling costs and the possibility of fraud.

“This is a big step forward for PIL. As an international shipping company, we believe we have a role to play in enhancing efficiencies within the intermodal transport logistics ecosystem. Working with a complex logistic network comprising ports and terminals, agencies, government entities, banks and shippers; systematic supply chain management is increasingly important to lower costs through the chain by cutting unnecessary expense, movements and handling,” Lisa Teo, Executive Director of PIL, said.

“Traditionally, information flow is predominantly handled via manual processes and the supplychain is slowed down when there are many points of communication within its framework. 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,” Teo added.

The team plans to extend the e-BL to shadow an end-to-end shipment in real time. The creation of the electronic bill of lading will be in line with PIL’s goal of creating the intermodal transport logistics ecosystem which incorporates the use of blockchain. 

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