Maersk and IBM Blockchain Project Welcomes Agility As New Member

A blockchain collaboration between IBM and shipping giant Maersk has announced a new partner on the project, in the form of third-party logistics firm Agility.

The project, which saw the release of the first model global trade digitization platform in January, has been developing on the Hyperledger 1.0 Fabric framework, in a move the companies hope will help reduce costs and inefficiencies in the shipping sector.

Now, with Agility confirmed to be working on the development, the project will benefit from shared data around specific shipping events, which will be used to aid the development of a more functional, responsive system.

Early versions of the IBM-Maersk model have been trialed by a number of organizations, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Tetra Pak, Dow Chemical and DuPont.

By sharing its internal data as part of the collaboration, Agility says the company is helping to minimize administration costs, thought to amount to as much as 20 percent of the total of $1.8 trillion annually.

Essa Al-Saleh, Agility’s CEO, told the media that their involvement in the project was a recognition of the value of blockchain technology to the shipping and logistics sector.

“Blockchain technology is going to make shipping cheaper, safer and more reliable. As early adopters, companies like Agility can help Maersk and IBM understand the needs of shippers and develop standards that will make trade more efficient.”

Al-Saleh continued, spelling out how standard shipping forms like bills of lading and customs clearance forms could be tracked on the blockchain, for live status updates, quicker inspection times, and opportunities in risk assessment and analysis.

The news comes in the same week as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway-owned BNSF Railway became the latest major rail operator to work on a blockchain collaboration, in joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance.

Transport and logistics are expected to benefit significantly from the development of blockchain technologies, as one of the archetypal examples of an industry set to benefit from this emerging technology in the near future.

With a diverse group of firms across the sector already working to develop blockchain projects, and others piloting early blockchain models already, the technology looks set to play an increasingly important role in the sector over 2018 and beyond.