Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), an independent, not-for-profit technology consortium building a blockchain-enabled operating system designed to redefine global trade, has announces its collaboration with COSCO SHIPPING Lines (COSCO SHIPPING), Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), and the Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry Testing Co., Ltd (SICIT), to improve the safe transportation of chemical cargo by harnessing blockchain technology.

Together, the four companies have leveraged blockchain technology to achieve an industry first proof-of-concept that helps enhance transportation safety in the shipping industry. As industry best practice, special cargo with designated goods, such as chemicals and lithium batteries, should be certified as safe to transport before they are handed over to logistics and shipping companies for export. This is important because carriers will manage the transportation based on the corresponding certification to mitigate the risk of potential accidents and protect crew.

For exports from China, SICIT is one of the main organisations authorised to test and issue safe transportation certificates. Traditionally, shippers would collect the certificate from an accreditation body and provide the document either as a hard copy or as a scanned copy to the carriers. However, for the carriers and subsequent transportation companies in the supply chain, certificates shared in this form can be hard to verify, thus carrying risks such as mislabelling and fraud.

By harnessing GSBN’s blockchain-enabled platform, a new streamlined process has been designed to ensure that safe transportation certificates and the information they contain can be verified from the original source, and the information is accurate and reliable. To demonstrate this, the four named companies have been developed a successful proof-of-concept with shipper Midea, one of the largest electrical appliances manufacturers in the world. Over GSBN, both COSCO SHIPPING and OOCL will be able to verify certificates obtained by Midea for their cargo directly with SICIT.

GSBN’s secure, blockchain-enabled infrastructure ensures that the certificate data is immutable and structured, which can be verified as the single source of truth. This helps reduce human mistakes, enhance security of the cargo and accelerate the process overall. In the future, it can also facilitate the advancement in automated verification, as well as the circulation of reliable certificate data stored on the blockchain among multiple parties.

With IoT (Internet of Things) technology increasingly being integrated into shipping, the data generated from connected devices can further be utilised to provide real-time visibility and traceability. The combined capabilities of different technological solutions deployed will ultimately help drive the enhancement of transportation safety.

Bertrand Chen, CEO of GSBN said, “The shipping industry is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime digital transformation leap. As part of this, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to share information whilst retaining full control of who it is shared with as well as ownership of that data. The use of blockchain infrastructure in this proof-of-concept with SICIT allows for systematic and trusted verification to happen directly with SICIT, which, combined with the future application of data from IoT devices, will make a significant difference in risk reduction and efficiency enhancement overall.”

Gaojun Wang, Director of Information Technology Department at SICIT said, “Redefining the Safe Transportation certification process by harnessing GSBN’s blockchain infrastructure is a significant breakthrough in verification. Aside from enhancing transportation safety, the streamlined digital process also increases the overall efficiency, minimises human error caused during manual data entry, as well as provides greater transparency to all parties across the supply chain.”

Yoyo Ju, Lead of Order Fulfillment Center – Doc Management at Midea, said, “This proof-of-concept is changing how we manage the shipment of goods that require special handling. Increasingly we are looking for streamlined, paper-free and digitised process that can help us improve efficiency and visibility, while reducing risks and associated costs. The new process enabled by GSBN and SICIT provides us with the assurance that other goods loaded upon the same vessels have also been tested, properly certified and handled correctly, to minimise potential risks to our own cargo. We believe this is a milestone for the industry and will quickly gain wider adoption.”

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