BIMCO 39 23 April SSA-YEG, ImarEST Meeting
Saturday, 28 April 2012 | 00:00
“Cross-industry innovation”, tackling environmental, technical and social challenges of the day, was discussed by BIMCO 39 in Singapore this week. This was one of several events held in the Lion City this week to celebrate Singapore Maritime Week, and prefaced the BIMCO Annual General Meeting.The event was hosted jointly by the BIMCO younger members’ organisation, Young Shipping Executives and IMarEST, and important changes
that will dramatically affect the future industry were considered.
Introducing the seminar, BIMCO Immediate Past President Robert Lorenz-Meyer said innovation was both environmentally and economically important. He cautioned, however, against too intense a focus upon technology, suggesting that social aspects of innovation needed to be on the agenda at a time when even capitalism was being questioned. He referred to the rise of Facebook, which itself could be recognised as a social innovation, with implications for shipping – if connectivity could not be provided to attract and retain seafarers.
Ashley Skaanild, head of liner shipping, Electronic Shipping Solutions (ESS), suggested that the development of paperless bills of lading provided “social innovation”, with the premise that “paper causes delays”, increases costs, drives up demurrage and provides a vehicle for fraud.
Past attempts to develop electronic bills of lading proved ineffective for a variety of reasons, either because of their costs, non- acceptance by banks or their lack of commercial neutrality.
What was needed, said Mr Skaanild, was a process that was “industry neutral”, provided reassurance right across trade partnerships, was inexpensive and was compliant with international regulation on the electronic transfer of title.
ESS, which has been developing its CargoDocs system since 2003 and has spent several years testing the system, can now automate the trade finance process and went live for the tanker sector in January 2010. With around 200 customers, 140 of them “live” in Europe and America, CargoDocs for Tankers looks like a paper bill of lading and provides an electronic process, but offers far faster document creation and amendment times. Human interaction and thus opportunities for error are much reduced, with the ability to store whole document sets on the database. There were, he said, great benefits for vessel owners, with trade changes that could take hours or even days to accomplish, reduced to minutes. Tankers using the system were able to leave their load port much faster. There was also a reduced risk of fraud and, as it was possible to discharge a ship against its original bill of lading, letters of indemnity would generally be redundant. Importantly, it was also free to use.
ESS, said Mr Skaanild, was now working on CargoDocs for Liners , a significant breakthrough with 95% of all trade conducted by liner bills of lading. It was hoped that this system, linking shipper, carrier, bank and consignee, able to cope with multiple trades and endorsements , would go live in June this year. It might be suggested that such a development could seriously provide operational efficiencies in liner berths and terminals.