Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Agility joins IBM-Maersk partnership to bring blockchain to container tracking

Steve Rogerson
February 13, 2018

Swiss logistics provider Agility has become the first freight forwarder to collaborate with the Maersk-IBM partnership to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade by using blockchain technology to manage and track container shipments.
Agility has agreed to identify events associated with individual shipments and to share and receive information about them via the distributed ledger blockchain technology developed by IBM and Maersk.
Agility’s goal is to reduce costs and increase shipping efficiency by integrating information about shipments onto a secure platform accessible to shippers, carriers, freight forwarders and others in the supply chain.
“Blockchain technology is going to make shipping cheaper, safer and more reliable,” said Essa Al-Saleh, CEO of Agility Global Integrated Logistics. “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. We can help customers understand how to use blockchain to improve shipment visibility, eliminate paperwork, reduce errors, and shorten transit and clearance times.”
Blockchain is a secure, immutable and tamper-resistant ledger that can be used to track shipments, documentation and payment transactions. Its digital infrastructure can connect parties in the supply chain, giving them access to information and real-time visibility based on their level of permission.
Documentation and administration are estimated to be one-fifth of the $1.8tn spent annually to move goods across borders. In addition to showing the location of containers in transit, blockchain can show the status of customs documents, bills of lading and other documentation. It can improve workflow, cut processing costs, and enhance visibility by integrating shipping processes and partners.
Customs and border authorities can use the technology to improve the information available for risk analysis, leading to increased safety and security as well as greater efficiency in border inspection clearance.
“For Agility, it’s important to be involved early in blockchain and to work with forward-thinking companies like Maersk and IBM,” Al-Saleh said. “Together, we have a lot to learn and share in order to bring the benefits of this technology to shippers and consumers as quickly as possible.”
Agility is a publicly traded company with $4bn in revenue and more than 22,000 employees in over 500 offices across 100 countries.