DCSA estimates $ 4 billion savings with e-Bills of Lading

Container shipping could save up to US$4b billion in costs annually over the next ten years if fifty per cent of shippers adopt the usage of electronic Bills of Ladings.

Despite this significant cost saving estimated by the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) the adoption of the e-Bill of Lading remains in its infancy, despite the fact that the idea has been around for the better around 30 years.

However, difficulties in moving paper documentation around the world with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year is finally starting to drive adoption in container shipping.

e-Bill of Lading adoption remains problematic despite the cost saving effects

Andre Simha, global chief digital and information officer for MSC, “The pandemic has brought an urgency to the digital development like the bill of lading as the cargo in ports couldn’t be gated out because paper was stuck somewhere due to air freight delays. With the world situation it has accelerated the need to digitise these documents.”

Even so adoption is still in the early stages and MSC started pilot schemes with a number of customers last year, including D-Well and British Steel, reports Seatrade Maritime News, Colchester, UK.

“Looking at overall costs it’s estimated an e-bill of lading is roughly three times more economical than a traditional bill of lading.”

But despite the obvious cost benefits as well as environmental from not having move documents via air transport the authorities and banks in some countries are harder to be convinced to make the switch.

Some authorities reluctant to implement the e-Bill of Lading

“We are promoting this to the regulatory authorities and the banks who are the parties being a bit more cautious about this,” Mr Simha said.

“Today what we see there are some cases where you cannot use an e-Bill of Lading, there are some countries that will not accept a document which is not on paper and signed and stamped and there we need to put the pressure as well as the import customers to change that.”

So how quickly will change come? While Mr Simha quipped that he’d left his crystal ball in the dishwasher he believes adoption will need to be fairly swift. “I see this happening either relatively quickly, so I think in the next couple of years this needs to change completely, or we’ll have to find another way. With the speed we want to do business today. It has to change.”

Copyright 2016 HKSG Group Media Ltd