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TradeLens Overview

Copyright IBM Corporation and Maersk GTD Inc. 2018, 2019

TradeLens, a Maersk and IBM solution formerly known as Global Trade Digitization (GTD), is a trade platform for containerized shipping, connecting the entire supply chain ecosystem. Some of the benefits include:

  • An open, neutral, and distributed platform underpinned by Blockchain technology
  • Seamless, permissioned document and data sharing with a common access control structure
  • Ecosystem participants access the platform through open APIs

The TradeLens platform integrates trade data from industry partners onto a common, secure business network, and will provide real-time, secure access to end-to-end supply chain information to all actors involved in a global shipping transaction. Using the platform, you can publish events related to a consignment (shipment) or transport equipment (container), and set up subscriptions to be notified when events occur that match your subscriptions.

TradeLens allows you to manage the documents involved with a consignment. Submitted documents generate events for your documents. This adds to the complete view of activities involved with your consignment or transport equipment. The TradeLens document functions could be used as part of the process of submitting filings for the import and export of goods by enabling end users to securely submit, stamp, and approve documents.

You can use TradeLens directly through REST APIs, or through the Shipment Manager UI. The Shipment Manager (SM) component provides a web user interface to interact with the platform. You can view the events related to a consignment, and perform operations on documents. 

TradeLens and Blockchain

Blockchain addresses the underlying challenges inherent in collaborating across a distributed, fragmented supply chain ecosystem:

  • Shared Ledger - Append-only distributed system of record shared across business network
    A network of industry participants maintains a distributed, permissioned ledger with copies of document filings, relevant supply chain events, authority approval status, and full audit history; every change results in a new, immutable block

  • Smart Contract - Shared business logic governing what transactions may be written to the ledger
    Cross-organizational business processes, such as import and export clearance, are pre-programmed and built into Blockchain and distributed to and executed on the network, preventing any member from changing the business logic

  • Privacy - Ensuring appropriate visibility; transactions are secure, authenticated and verifiable
    Cryptography enables permissioned access so only the parties participating in a specific consignment can submit, edit or approve related data

  • Trust - Transactions are endorsed by relevant participants
    Information such as documentation filings and authority approvals can only be changed if endorsed by the parties taking part in the consignment; full audit history maintained on the Blockchain

Standards and Interoperability

TradeLens is committed to the promotion and adoption of industry standards and interoperability of platforms:

  • Information standardization
    The TradeLens team will work closely with the TradeLens Industry Advisory Board, TradeLens participants, and standards bodies to help the industry coalesce around the use of widely adopted codes and data models. The TradeLens data model and access control scheme will align with the UN/CEFACT model.

  • Interface standards
    TradeLens is committed to openness, with all functionality surfaced via non-proprietary, publicly available APIs that are designed specifically for consumability and ease of integration. TradeLens will also increasingly offer standard integrations with ERP, TOS, TMS, and WMS packages.

  • Blockchain interoperability
    While Blockchain information exchange between ledgers today is generally achieved by integrations using middleware, that will change in the coming years. For example, Hyperledger Quilt, an implementation of the Interledger Protocol allowing for a cross-ledger namespace and transfers of information between ledgers, is one example solution for Blockchain interoperability which is being considered by TradeLens. IBM will ensure that the TradeLens platform also follows Blockchain-based standards evolving in the industry.

Information Flow

The diagrams below show some example flows for a consignment. Events can be submitted, documents can be created and approved, from multiple sources or organization types.

TradeLens Information Flow with Documents

TradeLens Information Flow

Solution Architecture

TradeLens Solution Architecture

The deployment model concept is shown below:

TradeLens Platform Details1

The Blockchain network topology will ensure segregation across ocean carriers:

  • TradeLens and participating ocean carriers can chose to host and manage a Blockchain node; other participants may as well

  • Each node includes the Blockchain platform components as well as dedicated Blockchain-managed document storage for that node

  • A channel will be established for each node hosting organization

  • Sensitive information including documents are distributed only to those nodes participating in a channel; in addition, highly secure access control permissions guarantee that organizations only access information for which they are granted access.

  • Documents are stored on a single node only, and are accessed at runtime by other nodes on a channel as permissions allow

TradeLens Platform Details2c