Growth report

TradeLens: A journey from beta to production in one year

Mike White and Marvin Erdly

TradeLens launched in August, and today, we are proud to announce that TradeLens is commercially available.

To mark the occasion, we’ll reflect on how far we have come as a partnership, as an ecosystem community and as an industry; and then we’ll consider the opportunities and work that still lies ahead.

Building a community

When we envisioned TradeLens a few years ago, the goals were at once simple yet ambitious: to reduce the cost of global shipping, improve visibility across supply chains and eliminate inefficiencies stemming from paper-based processes. In short, to bring global supply chains into a more connected and digitized state — for everyone.

Over the past two years, we’ve made tremendous strides in building and scaling the solution. We’ve moved from concept and prototype to a solution that is open to supply chain partners around the world. We’ve also seen great adoption and participation from organizations around the world.

Scoular’s commitment to increasing supply chain visibility and reducing documentation costs for our customers is exactly why we joined TradeLens.

—Sean Healy, Scoular

Today more than 100 organizations are engaged with TradeLens, with over 60 network members including four ocean carriers, three inland carriers, 40 worldwide ports and terminals, and eight customs authorities spanning the globe.

Membership momentum isn’t the only exciting news: Commercial availability comes with the ability to accept data from all ocean carriers on a customer-by-customer basis. This means that participants have more options for getting value from TradeLens and supporting their entire supply chain.

The TradeLens platform is capturing 350 million events a year. There are 60+ connected logistics members with over 20 million containers tracked in the first year.

As members join and data is shared, the global shipping industry is realizing the benefits of TradeLens. We’ve never been more certain of the impact it will have in addressing:

  • Inconsistent data and inequitable sharing of information across supply chains.
  • Continued “blind spots” across organizations and geographic boundaries.
  • Complex, cumbersome and often expensive peer-to-peer messaging.
  • Too many manual, time-consuming processes that increase costs and delay cargoes.
  • Inefficient clearance processes which can open the door to fraud.

We are convinced that joint work on a global scale is part of the key solutions to achieve a better flow of information and goods for the benefit of clients and partners.

—Daniel Oliver, Port of Montréal

The TradeLens offering now includes document sharing, which provides cutting-edge encryption to every document that is published. It also includes blockchain-based data storage with separate channels for major ocean carriers. No matter how sensitive the information, documents are treated with the utmost security and given the added long-term benefits of smart contract attributes.

Through the open API, TradeLens supports both structured documents, such as electronic bills of lading and unstructured documents such as scanned packing lists. This means no matter how complex a transaction, TradeLens is able to handle and manage workloads using blockchain. With document sharing also comes the ability to securely publish to a single platform with permissions given only to those who are a party to a consignment.

We’re also excited to release major advancements of TradeLens across the board:

  • Progression of the TradeLens UI, allowing for more customized filtering of key events and milestones across a consignment.
  • Advancements to transport planning, providing smoother handling of exceptions and changes to planned and estimated events.
  • Tighter integration of UN-CEFACT Data Model, offering more consistency across critical data fields.
  • A new integration framework, supporting EDI and legacy message integration with greater ease and in less time.
  • Introduction of organizational provisioning and carrier mapping, to ensure that the highest standards of data privacy and protection are in place; while at the same time ensuring the platform has the flexibility to respond to your supply chain’s ever-changing state.

We firmly believe that TradeLens will result in a much-needed, open, neutral and consistent standards-based solution for our industry. We’re excited to be part of the process.

—Charles Wellins, FlexiVan

All parties in the global supply chain benefit from these advancements – shippers, 3PLs, carriers, terminals and more. Now that we’ve made TradeLens generally available, we’re focused on enabling easier and faster on-boarding to accommodate new ecosystem members. 

If you’re not already involved, then please reach out and let’s start the discussion.