A consortium of companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), Accenture, American President Line (APL), Kuehne + Nagel, and a European customs organisation has tested a blockchain solution, which is capable of improving the ocean shipping sector.

Developed by Accenture, the solution is able to eliminate the use of printed shipping documents and can save costs for the freight and logistics industry every year.

The solution involves sharing and distributing documents using blockchain technology under single ownership principles determined by the type of information. It avoids the exchange of documents physically or digitally.

Under the trial, a detailed review of the current documentation processes has been conducted to evaluate a re-allocation of information ownership, accountability, and risk.

A total of 12 real shipments, with various destinations, each with different regulatory requirements, were performed as part of the trial.

The results showed that the blockchain solution can fast-track the entire flow of transport documents, reduce the load of data entry by up to 80%, and simplify data amendments across the shipping process.

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“The blockchain solution can fast-track the entire flow of transport documents, reduce the load of data entry by up to 80%, and simplify data amendments."

It can also streamline the checks required for cargo and reduce the burden and risk of penalties for customs compliance levied on customers.

The blockchain is a kind of distributed database system that is designed to maintain and record data in a way that enables various stakeholders to confidently and securely share access to the same information.

Accenture Freight and Logistics industry practice lead Adriana Diener-Veinott said: “Our trials have proven the viability of a shipping process in which many documents can be replaced by secure and distributed data sharing with clear and defined ownership.

“This gives companies a significant opportunity to save time and money while improving their service to customers.”

Accenture currently provides a range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations.

AB InBev is a beverage and brewing company based in Belgium. APL is a leading container shipping company, while Kuehne + Nagel is involved in the logistics business.