Month: June 2023

Blockchain in container shipping

What Happened to Blockchain in Container Shipping?

Do you remember when Blockchain was on the first page of every digital newspaper? It was not so long ago – in 2018-2020 everyone was talking about the digital revolution and many different ways in which blockchain will transform the traditional and conservative container shipping industry. Various experts on numerous forums created a lot of hustle around this subject, and it was fueled up to the maximum when Maersk announced a blockchain project TradeLens together with IBM.

Then we all got distracted by COVID-19, and the blockchain got slightly out of the radar. Recently, at the end of 2022, Maersk announced the closure of the TradeLens. If you go to the TradeLens website, you will see a farewell message right at the top of the page that reads:

“TradeLens was founded on a bold vision for global supply chain digitization as an open and neutral industry platform. This vision centered on the ability to enable true information sharing and collaboration across a highly fragmented industry globally. 
Unfortunately, such a level of cooperation and support has not been possible to achieve at this point in time and A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) and IBM have announced the discontinuation of the TradeLens platform.
We would like to express our sincere thanks for those that interacted with TradeLens since 2018. We are honored to have been part of your digitization journey.”

So what did happen to TradeLens and the whole Blockchain technology initiative? Can we call it a failure or is there more to come?


The Blockchain


Blockchain technology has matured and moved beyond the initial hype, entering a phase where its real-world applications are being explored and developed. As with any other technology, initial excitement often gives way to a more measured and focused approach. The focus now is to identify practical use cases that provide genuine value and solve real-world problems. This shift has led to more targeted discussions and implementations rather than broad generalizations about blockchain. Many organizations are exploring how blockchain can enhance their operations, but the integration process often happens behind the scenes and is not always widely publicized.

Blockchain faces certain scalability and technical challenges, especially when it comes to processing large volumes of transactions quickly and cost-effectively. While progress has been made in addressing these issues through various scaling solutions, they remain ongoing areas of research and development. The technical nature of these discussions may make them less prominent in mainstream conversations. In simple words, it’s getting overcomplicated for the general public.

While the hype around blockchain had gone back to the IT community, the technology continues to evolve, and its potential impact remains significant. Ongoing research, development, and real-world implementations are shaping the future of blockchain.




TradeLens is a blockchain-based platform for supply chain management developed by IBM and Maersk. It aims to improve efficiency, transparency, and security in global trade by digitizing and automating various processes. Since its launch in 2018, TradeLens has gained support from several major shipping companies and port operators, indicating its potential for success. These include companies like Pacific International Lines (PIL), CMA CGM, Hamburg Süd, and PSA International.

However, implementing blockchain technology in complex industries like global trade and supply chain management presented lots of challenges. Some potential obstacles that could affect the closure of the TradeLens project or any blockchain experiment in the field may include:

  1. Adoption: Achieving widespread adoption of new technology can be challenging, especially in industries with multiple stakeholders such as container shipping. Encouraging all relevant parties to join the platform and integrate their systems can be a time-consuming process.
  2. Interoperability: Ensuring seamless data sharing and interoperability among different participants’ systems can be a complex task. Integrating legacy systems with a new blockchain platform may require significant effort and technical expertise.
  3. Regulatory and legal considerations: The regulatory landscape surrounding blockchain technology and global trade may vary across jurisdictions. Compliance with existing laws and regulations and addressing potential legal barriers can be a complex process.
  4. Scalability and performance: Blockchain technology, while offering advantages in terms of security and transparency, can face challenges related to scalability and performance when dealing with large volumes of transactions and data.
  5. Return on Investment: 

Last but not least, there is a financial aspect that is extremely significant for any project of such scale. All of the above obstacles have to be heavily funded to be resolved. But it seems that the companies were not looking forward to investing in it for an indefinite period of time. As formulated by Rotem Hershko, Head of Business Platforms at A.P. Moller-Maersk, “TradeLens was founded on the bold vision to make a leap in global supply chain digitization as an open and neutral industry platform. Unfortunately, while we successfully developed a viable platform, the need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved. As a result, TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work and meet the financial expectations as an independent business.”

It’s essential to consider that the success or failure of an experiment like TradeLens may depend on various factors, including industry dynamics, market conditions, and technological advancements.

There are still numerous logistics startups working on innovative solutions with blockchain technologies. Areas such as supply chain visibility, operations optimization, and digital freight platforms continue to attract startup activity and consequently, venture and corporate investors. The logistics industry is vast and ever-evolving, and there is a chance we will see the re-birth of TradeLens in a new form. Will definitely watch this space.

Quotiss Freight Software Container shipping

Why Container Shipping is the “90% of Everything”

“Almost 90% of everything we buy arrives via ship”, writes Rose George in her mind-blowing book “Ninety Percent of Everything“, which covers her months-long adventure with the shipping industry and container shipping or… the biggest business that you know nothing about.

The statement “container shipping is 90% of everything” is often used to emphasize the significant role that container shipping plays in global trade. While the exact percentage may vary depending on the source and context, it is widely recognized that container shipping is a critical component of the global economy. Here are some reasons why this statement is made:


Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George


Rose George, a British journalist, spent months traveling the ocean on various massive ships the length of football fields and the height of Niagara Falls to report this book on shipping, which she calls “the invisible industry”:

“These ships and boxes belong to a business that feeds, clothes, warms, and supplies us. They have fueled if not created globalization. They are the reason behind your cheap T-shirt and reasonably priced television. But who looks behind a television now and sees the ship that brought it? Who cares about the men who steered your breakfast cereal through winter storms? How ironic that the more ships have grown in size and consequence, the less space they take up in our imagination.”

It’s important to note that the “90% of everything” statement is a generalization and not an exact figure. However, it highlights the vital role container shipping plays in facilitating global trade and connecting economies around the world.

The Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts About the Shipping Industry:


1. Shipping is the “greenest” mass transport

Compared to the energy expended moving goods by plane or truck, shipping is far less damaging in terms of greenhouse gases released. However, the shipping industry is so big that, if you added shipping to the list of the world’s most polluting countries, it would come in sixth place.

2. Ships are incredibly big

The largest container ship can carry 15,000 boxes, which would hold 746 million bananas. This would be about one banana for every person in Europe.

3. Ships cover the oceans

At least 20 million containers are currently traveling across the oceans. That’s a lot of bananas!

4. Shipping is a huge source of revenue

Economically, the shipping industry is monstrous in its size. In the United Kingdom, shipping accounts for more of the GDP than restaurants, takeaway food, and civil engineering combined — about 2 percent of the GDP by itself, just behind the construction.

5. Pirates are dangerous and prevalent

The rate of attacks on seafarers by pirates (for example, off the coast of Somalia) was higher last year than violent assaults in South Africa, which has the highest level of crime in the world.

6. Shipping is incredibly cheap.

It’s less expensive to ship Scottish cod 10,000 miles away to China to be filleted and then sent back to Scotland than it is to pay Scottish filleters to do the job. Of course, this reflects mostly on the cheapness of Chinese labor, but it does also show shipping’s low costs.

7. The inspection of containers is rare.

Only 5 percent of the containers shipped to U.S. ports are physically inspected, and that number is even lower in Europe. This probably would help explain Jack Sparrow’s common question.

8. The oceans are vast.

A container ship travels the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in one year during its regular travel across the oceans.

9. Shipping companies don’t like outsiders.

Shipping companies are so secretive and private that, for example, the official Greek shipowners’ association refuses to reveal how many members it actually has. And, George points out, that’s not considered weird in the industry.

10. Shipworker demographics are extremely predictable

On average, the typical shipworker is a male Filipino; Filipinos make up one-third of all ship workers, and men constitute 98% of the workforce. As a British, white female, author Rose George was thus very much an outlier on her sea journeys.

The full text of the article can be found here


*Quotiss is a software company that provides a cloud-based platform for freight forwarding companies to simplify and automate their sales process.

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