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PACIFIC International Lines has used an electronic bill of lading built in the IBM Blockchain Platform in a real-time pilot tracking shipment of mandarin oranges from China for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

This trial reduced the administrative process time from up to seven days to one second.

Combining an electronic bill of lading (e-BL) with blockchain technology could help companies reduce their document processing times with an instantaneous digital transfer of the bill of lading for their cargo.

Document handling is automated and goods delivered more quickly and efficiently.

Hupco, a major Singapore importer of mandarins, took part in the trial as the consignee of 3000 cartons of the fruit (about 108,000 separate pieces of fruit).

Hupco chairman and CEO Tay Khaim Back said the company was “delighted” with the outcome of the trial.

“By using the e-BL, we have seen how the entire shipment process can be simplified and made more transparent with considerable cost savings,” he said.

“Our customers can expect their orders in a more timely manner and, importantly, with freshness assured.”

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The live trial follows the e-BL proof of concept, which was announced in October last year. PIL and IBM collaborated to digitise the lifecycle of negotiable and non-negotiable bills of lading on top of distributed ledger technology.

PIL executive director Lisa Teo said PIL was pleased with the steady progress of the blockchain collaboration with IBM.

“To-date, we have received very positive feedback from the industry and authorities, and we are enthused by the possibilities of how our blockchain developments can transform and inject a much-needed boost in efficiency and innovation into the industry,” she said.

IBM Asia Pacific CEO and chairman Harriet Green said a blockchain based trade network would be a “game-changer”.

“We have a great opportunity here with our partner PIL to revolutionise the documentation processes in a way that benefits the entire industry,” she said.

“Powered by blockchain, the e-BL developed by the IBM Research Singapore will be critical in helping to establish an extensible ecosystem for trade, thus expectedly enhancing trade efficiency and building trusted trade relationships among the industry players.”

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