MPA signs Tuas Terminal Phase 2 contract, autonomous vessels MOU and more

Source: MPA signs Tuas Terminal Phase 2 contract, autonomous vessels MOU and more

SINGAPORE – The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced the signing of the Tuas Terminal Phase 2 contract at the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) on Wednesday (April 25).

The $1.46 billion contract was awarded to a consortium of Dutch dredging giant Boskalis , Penta Ocean Construction Company and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company.

The project will include the dredging of the Tuas basis, construction of wharf structures and reclamation of 387 hectares of land, which will be bounded by 9.1 km of cassion walls (excavation support structure).

Construction of Phase 2 will commence at a later date, but it is scheduled to be completed in the mid-2020s, said MPA.

MPA also said that more than 70 per cent of Phase 1 of Tuas Terminal has been completed as of now. When the entire Tuas Terminal is completed, it will have a total capacity of up to 65 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) annually.

At the SMTC, MPA also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) and Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) to jointly develop autonomous vessels.

These autonomous vessels will be used for harbour operations, such as channelling, berthing , mooring and towing operations. Keppel O&M will be using its remote vessel monitoring and analytics programme, VesselCare, as the base platform. The programme is able to perform data consolidation, condition based monitoring and maintenance, mining and analytics of vessels.

MPA also signed an MOU with Finnish tech group Wartsila to promote the development of maritime technologies, and renewed another MOU with the Research Council of Norway for maritime research and development, education and training. This marks the seventh term between the two organisations, and the term will last for three years till 2021.

MPA also signed a memorandum of intent with eight classification societies to develop the Singapore Maritime Data Hub, which will serve as a one-stop centralised data repository and collaborative platform for the maritime community.

It also awarded the Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund to the consortium of ST Electronics and Norwegian maritime surveillance solutions provider Kongsberg Norcontrol for its next generational vessel traffic management system innovation programme (NGVTMS).

On the sidelines, NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of National University of Singapore (NUS) and a partner of MPA, also signed a MOU with Dutch maritime-only accelerator PortXL, to develop the maritime innovation ecosystem of Singapore.

A total of seven agreements were signed at SMTC on Wednesday, involving MPA, local and international partners.

Finnish Shipowners to reinforce One Sea

Source: Finnish Shipowners to reinforce One Sea

The Finnish Shipowners’ Association (FSA) has started an intensive cooperation with the international One Sea Ecosystem, striving to enable commercial autonomous maritime traffic by 2025. The aim is to create better conditions for significantly more energy-efficient and safer shipping. ‘We want to be part of the leading edge of digitalizing shipping with One Sea’, states CEO Tiina Tuurnala of the FSA.

‘We’re extremely satisfied to gain the competence of the Finnish Shipowners’ Association for our rapidly developing cooperation. The One Sea Ecosystem already presents the absolute top in developing international seafaring, but the FSA raises our cooperation to an even higher and robust level’, assesses the leader of the One Sea Ecosystem, Päivi Haikkola from DIMECC Ltd.

The now a hundred years old FSA represents 25 Finnish shipping companies and over a hundred ships. One Sea gathers together leading international companies from the top of their individual fields, leading the way towards enabling autonomous shipping by 2025. The ecosystem consists of cutting edge competence offered by its partners: ABB, Cargotec, Ericsson, Finferries, Finnpilot Pilotage, Meyer Turku, Rolls-Royce, Tieto and Wärtsilä, lead by DIMECC.

‘Our agreement with One Sea offers us a momentous possibility. Digitalization and automation are rapidly revolutionizing seafaring, and we want to be part of the leading edge of digitalizing shipping with One Sea’, reasons CEO Tiina Tuurnala the commencing intensive collaboration.

Energy efficiency and safety are the goals

‘The most important visions for us are the positive possibilities of digitalization and automation. We’re heading towards a future where seafaring is considerably more energy-efficient and more sustainable. Digitalization also means constantly improving safety. One Sea is a uniquely qualified ecosystem to which we’re now able to bring our own remarkable seafaring expertise and the perspective of shipowners. This is a win-win equation, if any’, CEO Tuurnala sums up.

In addition to safety and energy efficiency, shipowners pursue more efficiency and optimization as well as improved cost-effectiveness through digitalization and automation.

One Sea’s leader DIMECC is the most important innovation platform of Finnish Industry. The ecosystem is financed by Business Finland and the participating companies. The workings of the ecosystem are international.

‘Our goal is extremely ambitious: We aim to be the guiding star of international shipping. The possibilities are there, all the participants in the ecosystem are the best in their fields. The input of the shipowners to our joint developing is invaluable’, praises One Sea leader Päivi Haikkola.

The Finnish Shipowners’ Association (FSA) has started an intensive cooperation with the international One Sea Ecosystem, striving to enable commercial autonomous maritime traffic. Picture: Rolls-Royce.

Kongsberg To Develop Automating Technology For The Ferries Of Future

Source: Kongsberg To Develop Automating Technology For The Ferries Of Future

Kongsberg Maritime plans to develop a system for automating the crossing between Horten and Moss and for moving ferries to and from the quay. Bastø Fosen will provide a ferry and crew to assist with the development.

The system is due to be ready for testing by autumn 2018. The objective is to increase safety and improve passenger experience, in addition to reducing fuel consumption. Shipping company Bastø Fosen has concluded a cooperation agreement with Kongsberg Maritime for developing and testing new technology and functionality set to enable safer operation of vessels, reduced energy consumption and enhanced fleet management for the ferries of the future.

Y1A0281Image Credits: kongsberg.com

The project will focus on developing and integrating a system that supports navigators with improved situational awareness and decision-making. The system is designed to automate arrival and departure movements in combination with close monitoring by the navigator, and will also ensure that the ferries follow the optimum route between Horten and Moss, based on traffic volumes and weather conditions.

Longer term, Bastø Fosen and Kongsberg plan to explore solutions for automatic interaction between vessels, the idea being that the system will allow the six ferries in the Bastø Fosen fleet to learn from each other.

“The collaboration with Kongsberg Maritime for developing new technology is a part of our commitment to delivering safe ferry services of the highest standard. More automated operations will contribute significantly to sustainable development of our offering by improving the service we provide to passengers. The safety and comfort of everyone on board is our main consideration and we are committed to exploring the potential of new technology in combination with the expertise of our dedicated and professional crew. Our employees are looking forward to exploring the new ways of working that our partnership with Kongsberg will introduce”, says Øyvind Lund, CEO at Bastø Fosen.

This April, Kongsberg Maritime is already installing sensors and logging equipment on board one of the newest Bastø Fosen ferries. Data from this equipment, combined with the crew’s experience, will form the basis for the functionality in the new system. The automated docking and sailing system is expected to be ready for testing later this year.

“At Kongsberg, we believe it is vital to have good dialogue with professional, forward-thinking shipping companies. This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for Kongsberg. By collaborating with an active and engaged end user, we can gather elements from our established technology, put them together with developments from other on-going projects and create new solutions for the ferries of the future. Bastø Fosen is an experienced, innovative and customer-focused operator, and together we can test the solutions while they are being developed, thus ensuring quality and ease of use”, explains Morten Stanger, Vice President Subsea Sales at Kongsberg Maritime.

Press Release: kongsberg.com

Fjords Takes Delivery Of Groundbreaking Zero Emission Vessel

Source: Fjords Takes Delivery Of Groundbreaking Zero Emission Vessel

Tourist ship owner and operator The Fjords has taken delivery of a vessel it believes sets new standards for environmentally responsible passenger transport. Future of The Fjords, a42m long carbon fibre 400 PAX all-electric catamaran, will begin operation in mid-May, making around 700 yearly round tripsalong the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage listed fjord route between Flåm and Gudvangen. It is the first vessel of its kind to offer completely emission free transport through the beautiful, yet fragile, Western Norwegian landscape.

Future of The Fjords is the sister ship to Vision of The Fjords, a diesel electric hybrid launched to universal acclaim in 2016. Although both ships are designed and constructed by Norwegian shipyard Brødrene Aa, with hulls that mirror the zigzagging mountain paths they sail beside, they are very different once you scratch the surface, as The Fjords CEO Rolf Sandvik explains:

“It is our mission to safeguard the vulnerable environment we give access to, while providing the absolute optimal experience for our passengers,” he notes. “With Future of The Fjords it’s mission accomplished.

“Vision of The Fjords was an important development for us, but we had the ambition to take it one step further and replace the diesel electric propulsion with all-electric – thus eradicating all noise and emissions to air for the entire route. Future of The Fjords does just that, minimising its impact on the environment while maximising the experience of passengers who can now glide silently over the water and come closer to nature than ever before. Taking this delivery is a very proud day for us, and for our progressive owners Fjord1 and Flåm AS. The Future has arrived!”

The NOK 144 million vessel is propelled by two 450kW electric motors, enabling cruising speeds of 16 knotsalong the spectacular 90 minute each way voyage. In another first, The Fjords has, in partnership with Brødrene Aa, developed a unique charging solution called the Power Dock.

This 40m long, 5m wide floating glass fibre dock will sit in the water at Gudvangen, housing a 2.4 MWh battery pack. This charges steadily throughout the day via connection to the local grid network, which does not have the capacity to charge the Future of The Fjords directly. The innovative solution allows the vessel to stably, efficiently and cost effectively ‘refill’ in just 20 minutes.

What’s more, the dock also stores consumables, fuel for sister vessels, and allows black water to be offloaded for treatment on land. This makes Future of The Fjords the only passenger vesselnot to discharge sewage directly into the fjords.

“We can’t wait to welcome our first passengers on-board for the trip of a lifetime,” Sandvik concludes. “We now hope Future of the Fjords can become a benchmark for environmentally responsible vessel operators worldwide, ushering in a new breed of clean, green and spectacular passenger transport.”

The Fjords
The Fjords is dedicated to moving its passengers. Operating a fleet of seven tourism and transport vessels on the Western Norwegian fjords of Nærøyfjord, Sognefjord, Hjørundfjord Geirangerfjord and Lysefjord, the company aims to connect customers not just to their destinations, but also to the unique natural beauty that surrounds them. The Fjords is co-owned 50/50 by Fjord1, Norway’s largest ferry company, and Flåm AS, which works to promote Flåm’s world-class tourism opportunities.
www.thefjords.no

The Fjord1 Group
The Fjord1 Group is one of the major transportation companies in Norway. The core operational area for the company is sea-based transport, by ferries- and passenger vessels. In addition, the company has operations in relation to catering, travel agency and property management. Fjord1 AS is owned by Havila AS and the County council of Sogn and Fjordane.
www.fjord1.no

Future of the FjordsImage Credits: hellenicshippingnews.com

Flåm AS
Flåm AS is a leading provider of tourist attractions in the fjords and mountains of western Norway and the global marketing and sales arm of the Flåm tourist business cluster including world class attractions such as the Flåmsbana railroad and The Fjords’ cruises in UNESCO world heritage fjords. Flåm AS is owned by SIVA (a Norwegian state business development company), Aurland municipality and Aurland Savings Bank.

Press Release: Fjord

Rotterdam may see first ship-to-ship LNG refuelling in June

Source: Rotterdam may see first ship-to-ship LNG refuelling in June

SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) – The port of Rotterdam expects to see its first ship-to-ship (STS) liquefied natural gas (LNG) refuelling operation in June, marking an important milestone in the use of the cleaner burning fuel in shipping.

The opening of STS marine refuelling, also known as bunkering, is significant because it makes the cleaner fuel more accessible to shippers, said Cees Boon, senior safety adviser at the Port of Rotterdam.

“A lot milestones will follow,” said Boon in an email on Tuesday.

In June, it is expected that short-haul sea vessels will be the first to undergo LNG bunkering through STS operations in the port of Rotterdam, followed by LNG-fuelled cruise ships in November and then larger deep-sea vessels by the end of 2019, said Boon.

Short-haul LNG-fuelled shipping vessels have so far only been able to refuel with LNG in Rotterdam through truck-to-ship transfers while at dock.

Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and bunkering hub, and is actively promoting the use of LNG as a marine fuel.

Rotterdam sold 1,500 tonnes of LNG bunker fuels in 2017, up from just 100 tonnes the year before, data on the port’s website showed.

Shippers are looking to LNG to help them meet stricter emissions regulations in 2020 and beyond. (Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gopakumar Warrier)

From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life

Source: From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — They came from Russia, Poland, Germany and Ukraine, bearing tickets bought in the field offices of the Holland America Line passenger ships. They were fleeing the pogroms, escaping tyrants, running from war or just seeking a better life. About two million people made their way to Rotterdam harbor during the peak years from 1880 to 1920 to begin a trans-Atlantic journey that would often end at Ellis Island.

The stories of these migrants inspired the former Rijksmuseum director, Wim Pijbes, and the group he leads, Stichting Droom en Daad (Foundation Dream and Do), to transform a crumbling warehouse on the Rotterdam piers into a kind of Dutch sister-site to Ellis Island. The nonprofit organization he directs, founded in 2016 to support arts in Rotterdam, acquired a city permit in March to turn the old Holland America Line warehouse into an institution that will commemorate those journeys.

“I won’t call it a museum,” Mr. Pijbes said recently as he showed a reporter around the 108,000-square-foot concrete and steel building on a windswept pier, which is home to a number of ragtag hipster start-ups, including an organic food court, galleries and arts groups. “A museum is a phenomenon that has a very strict idea and image in most people’s minds. I want to find a word that has a kind of hybrid function, a place, a platform, an agora.”

The new multiuse facility, called the Fenix, will include restaurants, shops and galleries on the ground floor, while the entire top floor will be devoted to exhibitions related to immigration, past and present.

A ship docked at the warehouse around 1925.Collection Stadsarchief Rotterdam/Municipal Archives, Rotterdam

In 2020, when their leases expire, the current shops and businesses will move out to make way for renovation, which is expected to cost upward of 5 million euros ($6.14 million), though some will return.

“Culturally and historically, this will be of amazing value for the city,” Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor, said of the Fenix project, adding that it would serve as “a bridge” between the north and south sides of Rotterdam.

Through a partnership with several local museums and the Rotterdam City Archives, the exhibition space will combine historical presentations, based on three million records related to the immigrants who passed through here, and ship data, along with contemporary art.

Mr. Pijbes said he would like to show the Mexican artist and filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s high-tech art installation “Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible)” (2017), which allows one visitor at a time to experience crossing the United States-Mexico border in the desert, through virtual reality.

“What we want to show is that this is a universal story,” Mr. Pijbes said. “People at some point of their lives make a decision, whether it’s forced by war, poverty, religious reasons or something else. They decide to put everything they have into one or two suitcases and to make this journey to a new world and start all over again. The same thing happens to Jews from Russia and people from African continents crossing the Mediterranean, or Syrians fleeing the war. What we want to do is to understand the emotion and to show the emotion.”

Hundreds of thousands of those who left through Rotterdam were victims of pogroms, anti-Semitic riots that swept the Russian Empire, killing thousands and propelling mass Jewish migration. But among the 3.5 million people who took the Holland America Line from its inception in the 1870s to the 1960s, when air travel became significantly cheaper, were every conceivable kind of immigrant.

Mr. Pijbes intends to make the passenger lists, and details about those who traveled, available to the public online within a couple of years, before the Fenix opens.

The Holland-America Line built what was said at the time to be the largest warehouse in the world on this pier in 1923, using it as a passenger terminal and goods transport center, according to Droom en Daad. In those days, some 2,000 to 4,000 people would board a single ship — first steamers and later ocean liners — for the weekslong voyage to the United States or Halifax, Nova Scotia, with poorer émigrés cramming into steerage and the wealthier passengers banqueting in first class.

An entire industry sprang up around the travelers who passed through this port, to house them, provide them with papers and check them for diseases like rheumatic fever and trachoma (pink eye) that would prevent their entering the United States.

Rotterdam was heavily bombed by German forces before the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 and again as the Germans retreated, hoping to cut off Allied access to supplies.

The warehouse was blown up with dynamite, but rebuilt at half the size after the war. It was named the Fenix, or phoenix, rising from the ashes.

Today, large ocean liners dock at these piers, and glass office towers dwarf the Art Deco building, once the tallest at the harbor, that had served as the headquarters of the Holland America Line (now the charmingly historic Hotel New York).

“It takes more than a hundred years to rebuild a city that has been bombed to the ground,” Mr. Pijbes said. “You see now in places like Syria and Iraq what happened here.

“If you see the city as a body, what happens to the body is a trauma. What people tend to do when they have a very serious trauma is to turn their back on it. The people from Rotterdam did not look back in history. Don’t think about the past, they said, look at the future.”

But Mr. Pijbes said that his foundation felt it was time to look back, because the history of Rotterdam was rich and fascinating.

Mr. Pijbes served as the general director of the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum, for eight years before he stepped down in 2016 to run the Museum Voorlinden, a private contemporary art center in Wassenaar founded by a chemical company executive and art collector, Joop van Caldenborgh.

The Voorlinden job lasted only a few months.

Soon afterward, Mr. Pijbes said, he was approached by the Van der Vorms, one of the wealthiest families in the Netherlands, who asked him to establish a foundation devoted to Rotterdam-based cultural activities and projects.

The Van der Vorms owned shares in the Holland America Line from the 1930s until it was sold to the American Carnival Corporation in 1989, but this project was not born of that connection, Mr. Pijbes said.

After spending about a year meeting with some 200 Rotterdam-based artists, architects, developers and city leaders, Droom en Daad settled on the Fenix as its first major undertaking.

“If you go to Amsterdam or Leiden or Delft, you go to the city center, and you see the Middle Ages and you see the 17th century and the 19th century, you see history,” Mr. Pijbes said. “In Rotterdam, you have history, but you can’t see it physically. Everything that is built in the city center was built after 1950. There’s a lack of history. There’s a gap in the memory.

“Our goal is to fill that gap, or refill that gap, by focusing on culture and heritage.”

Simwave maritime simulator centre officially open

Source: Simwave maritime simulator centre officially open

Simwave officially opened its 5,000-square-metre maritime training centre in Barendrecht yesterday. Naturally, the opening was simulated. On all the screens of 59 simulators, four vessels sailed at the same time through an opening ribbon in an imaginary port with the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza and the Burj Khalifa on the quays.

It was clear to see how hundreds of guests, including the mayor of Berendrecht Jan van Belzen, enjoyed the simulated opening spectacle and the subsequent look behind the scenes at the simulators. The centre has already been in use for some time now. The ‘site acceptance test’ was successfully completed on 29 January in collaboration with the supplier of the simulators, the Norwegian company Kongsberg Digital. Since then, the entire ‘maritime centre of excellence’ has been operational and there are plenty of training courses being organised for and with customers such as Genting Hong Kong, Crystal River Cruises and Viking Cruises.

 

Opening offer
To celebrate the opening, Simwave immediately announced an offer. ‘Clients who book an Open Course before 16 May will receive a 15% discount on the registration fee,’ announced Marcel Kind, the managing director and co-founder of Simwave.

Simwave offers the shipping industry an exception concept: ‘Simulator as a service’. A simulator or several different interfaced simulators can be booked straightforwardly to train or assess crews, with or without support from the shipping company’s own instructors. Thanks to a team of professionals in the field of maritime modelling and a team for visual databases, clients can practise with their own vessels in any desired sailing environment. The Simwave centres are available 24/7 and they include extensive accommodation facilities.

 

Port congestion: There’s an app for that

Source: Port congestion: There’s an app for that

Dive Brief:

  • A new app from the Port of Rotterdam, called Pronto, will reduce waiting time by 20% for the 30,000 vessels it receives yearly, the port said in a press release.
  • Pronto’s dashboard allows shippers and terminals to monitor developments and make necessary adjustments. A timeline specifies every event the vessel will be involved in during its port call, from arrival through departure.
  • Port congestion is a global problem that creates serious repercussions throughout the supply chain.

Story continues below

Dive Insight:

The International Chamber of Shipping estimates 90% of global trade is carried by sea. With that much traffic arriving, unloading and departing from the world’s ports, congestion is almost inevitable.

Ports quite often have limited docking space, and with the size of today’s ships, capacity can be strained. Vessels line up and wait, many times in an anchorage at sea, until they’re able to access the port.

The waiting ships are using up fuel, and goods that need to be off-loaded for further transport aren’t going anywhere, setting off a logistics chain reaction as trucks and rail scheduled to receive those goods also sit idle. End-users who rely on on-time deliveries will be forced to scramble to meet their needs and, more important, their customers’ needs.

Pronto’s app is designed to make more effective use of capacity at the terminals while also coordinating vessel services, such as bunkering (storage of fuels fueling services), maintenance and provisioning of ships. When a vessel’s estimated arrival time is known, it is assigned a timeline within Pronto. The timeline specifies every event the vessel will be involved until its departure.

As Europe’s largest business port, and a primary destination for goods from Asia, Rotterdam includes one fully automated, technologically advanced terminal that can handle today’s megaships and their capacities of up to 20,000 twenty-foot-equivalent Units (TEUs).

However, the app alone won’t solve the congestion problem. For example, barge operator Contargo has told its customers there is a waiting time of 12-72 hours at Rotterdam and it would be adding a €19.50 per container (full and empty) surcharge to shipments. The operator said it had identified four causes for the congestion: larger ocean-going vessels, limited handling windows for inland operations, additional seaport terminals and growing numbers of feeder vessels.

Port congestion is a global issue. Rotterdam has taken a first step with its app, but much more remains to be done.

Blockchain is about to revolutionise the shipping industry

Blockchain is about to revolutionise the shipping industry The Business Times Full coverage

Source: Blockchain is about to revolutionise the shipping industry

GLOBALISATION has brought the most advanced trading networks the world has seen, with the biggest, fastest vessels, robot-operated ports and vast computer databases tracking cargoes. But it all still relies on millions and millions of paper documents.

That last throwback to 19th century trade is about to fall. AP Moeller-Maersk A/S and other container shipping lines have teamed up with technology companies to upgrade the world’s most complex logistics network.

The prize is a revolution in world trade on a scale not seen since the move to standard containers in the 1960s – a change that ushered in the age of globalisation. But the undertaking is as big as the potential upheaval it will cause. To make it work, dozens of shipping lines and thousands of related businesses around the world – including manufacturers, banks, insurers, brokers and port authorities – will have to work out a protocol that can integrate all the new systems onto one vast platform.

Should they succeed, documentation that takes days will eventually be done in minutes, much of it without the need for human input. The cost of moving goods across continents could drop dramatically, adding fresh impetus to relocate manufacturing or source materials and goods from overseas.

“This would be the biggest innovation in the industry since the containerisation,” said Rahul Kapoor, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Singapore. “It basically brings more transparency and efficiency. The container shipping lines are coming out of their shells and playing catch-up in technology.”

The key, as in so many other industries, from oil tankers to cryptocurrencies, is blockchain, the electronic ledger system that allows transactions to be verified autonomously. And the benefits wouldn’t be confined to shipping. Improving communications and border administration using blockchain could generate an additional US$1 trillion in global trade, according to the World Economic Forum.

APL Ltd, owned by the world’s third-largest container line CMA CGM SA, together with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Accenture Plc, a European customs organisation and other companies said last month that they have tested a blockchain-based platform. South Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine Co held trial runs last year using a system developed with Samsung SDS Co.

The shipping paper trail begins when a cargo owner books space on a ship to move goods. Documents need to be filled in and approved before cargo can enter or leave a port. A single shipment can require hundreds pages that need to be physi-cally delivered to dozens of different agencies, banks, customs bureaus and other entities.

In 2014, Maersk followed a refrigerated container filled with roses and avocados from Kenya to the Netherlands. The company found that almost 30 people and organisations were involved in processing the box on its journey to Europe. The shipment took about 34 days to get from the farm to the retailers, including 10 days waiting for documents to be processed. One of the critical documents went missing, only to be found later amid a pile of paper.

“The paperwork and processes vital to global trade are also one of its biggest burdens,” according to Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, which has teamed up with International Business Machines (IBM) Corp to enable real-time tracking of its cargo and documents using blockchain. “The paper trail research that Maersk did uncovered the extent of the burden that documents and processes inflict on trade and the consequences.”

That plethora of paper processors has been one of the reasons shipping has lagged behind other industries in moving to electronic forms. The variety of different languages, laws and organisations involved in moving cargoes in the past made standardisation a slow process.

Instead the industry has relied on advances in transport technology and cargo handling to improve efficiency, with the great Clipper sailing vessels replaced by steamships and then modern oil-powered leviathans – the largest ships on the oceans. In the 1850s, it took more than three months to move chests of tea from southern China to London. Today, that journey would take about 30 days.

The biggest change came in the 1960s, when the industry adopted the standard-size steel boxes in use today, replacing the wooden crates, chests and sacks that stevedores had hauled on the docks for centuries.

With these containers sometimes holding products from different suppliers, and ship cargoes sometimes ending up with thousands of customers in dozens of countries, the transition to a uniform electronic system presents major challenges.

“Not all stakeholders are looking at deploying the same blockchain solution and platforms,” APL said in response to questions. “This can pose as a challenge if stakeholders are expected to trade via a common platform or solution.”

And the shipping lines will also need to persuade the ports and other organisations involved in cargo trading to adopt their systems. Maersk said Singapore-based port operator PSA International and APM Terminals, based in The Hague, Netherlands, will use its platform. APL and Accenture said they plan to pilot their product by the end of this year. Accenture said it has tested its technology with other pilot shipments that range from beer to medical supplies.

The cost savings could be visible in the companies’ financial statements in about two years, Mr Kapoor of Bloomberg Intelligence said.

“Shipping needs to stop thinking about itself as this standalone middle sector,” said KD Adamson, chief executive officer of Futurenautics Group. “It needs to start thinking about how the different elements of shipping fit into other ecosystems.” WP