Thursday, January 28, 2021

Electronic Bills of Lading Just the First Step Toward Digitalisation of Ocean Freight Processes

Industry Big Hitters All on the Same Page
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Nobody could accuse the shipping industry to be underrepresented in the ranks of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) with members including all the big hitters from the sector.

Names like MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, ONE, Hapag Lloyd, Evergreen, HMM and ZIM adorn the membership list and demonstrate the seriousness the sector has for digitalisation, something already adopted in fields such as aviation. Air freight has traditionally been more ‘on the ball’ than the ocean variety, those long sea voyages always tending to offer a more relaxed business attitude.

In its attempt to turn these pages of history the DCSA has initiated several programmes which it is keen for all relevant parties to adopt. This month for instance it has been putting the finishing touches to its new compliance self-certification programme. This is a simple and fee-free way for any organisation that has adopted DCSA standards to publicly demonstrate their compliance by completing a standard checklist.

Those interested will shortly be able to see full details of the process when they appear in the DCSA Self-Certification Handbook which will be published on the website in the coming weeks, alongside the first of its Self-Certification Checklists.

Already last year the DCSA set the eBL standard for electronic Bills of Lading, as we have previously illustrated. In December data and process standards for the submission of shipping instructions and issuance of such documents was released, with this the first stage toward complete digitalisation. An online session providing an overview of the DCSA eDocumentation initiative and highlights of the DCSA bill of lading standards can be seen HERE.

The past few months have also seen an IoT standard for remote reefer container monitoring on board vessels. The standard defines a minimum set of data elements to be shared with vessel crew to enable remote monitoring of smart reefer containers on board a vessel. The standard can be downloaded free of charge HERE.

The pace of change it seems is quickening, with a determination by the ocean carriers that new systems, often utilising blockchain, will move international freight movements into a new, electronic future.

Photo: Both Bills of Lading and Cargo Manifests were of course originally all hand written and signed by the Master, as with this late 18th Century copy.