The world economy depends on the maritime traffic for keeping its supply chain working, this has been specially true during the pandemic and the trend will go further.
The closure of the Suez canal by a sanded ship and the quarantines in some Chinese ports have put a lot of pressure in brokers and ship owners.
Ship owners need to comply with an increase number of periodic checks and environmental controls that impact in the availability of their assets.
Brokers need to keep freight prices as low as possible without contracting non compliant ships for their traffics.
Repairing companies and certification bodies have a hard time to identify which ships have passed the required controls, if they have done that in due time, etc…
The whole maritime industry has very valuable information available, but it is dispersed, lying in closed silos with very few transparency and visibility.
Deploying compliance information for every ship in a public accessible and unmodifiable database will allow all actors of the value chain to increase their efficiency and their business revenue.
That type of database is now available and it is called blockchain, the aim of our proposal will be to establish a public record for each ship where the relevant data for the different stakeholders is available while keeping secret the information that is confident.
Storing the data of the different maintenance revisions, periodical inspections etc… for each vessel in an NFT (Non Fungible Token) will allow:
• The shipowner to simplify its administrative burden as he can integrate the information with its legacy systems
• The ship brokers will have a real-time view of the status of the ships he is going to contract, thus ensuring their customers that their cargo is transported fulfilling international regulations.
• The ship repair companies could ping the database and propose with time in advance the necessary services at the ports of call to perform the regular revisions for each vessel.
• The port authorities could allow access to their ports of the vessels without the need for asking for documentation and certifications as they can access it directly from the public blockchain
Vessel repairing companies feel every day the pain of handling all the paper work for their customers and the inefficiencies the lack of data communication among stake holders produces.
Having a central point of access for each vessel will be a have a huge impact of his business, they could reduce the number of certificates the owner must present to pass certain controls, it will increase their commercial opportunities by proposing the right inspections in the ports of call of the ship.
The solution will identify the data model that each ship has to keep recorded and can be shared publicly without compromising the business privacy.
That means identifying the relevant vessel information to be included in the NFT that will represent each vessel (drawings, list of components, engine, insulation, number and type of cranes, class, type of cargo, etc…)
Then it will detail the type of records that should be updated by the shipowner to keep the vessel compliant with regulations (inspections, certifications, etc..)
The data model will establish who can update each record and where will be stored the information that for size it cannot be stored in the blockchain, like scanned certificates etc..
The outcome will be an NFT structure in the Ignis blockchain in the form of asset with different properties and links to an external decentralized storage system like IPFS and likes.
There will be a definition of the API (application interface) calls that the stakeholders will need to use to access the information stored in the blockchain in a easy manner.
Storing information in a shared database is totally unknown in the maritime sector, there have been pilots using permissioned blockchains but this will be the first time a public NFT will be used to do so.
That has the potential to revolutionize a sector where transparency is scarce and there are plenty of inefficiencies in a moment where shipping is under great pressure for keeping the supply chain alive.
Not all blockchains are born the same, most of them spend a lot of energy for keeping the network secure, this is why we have chosen the Ignis blockchain from Jelurida Swiss SA, it has insignificant carbon print and their nodes can run in small devices as a blackberry pi or an Android smart phone.
Achieving transparency and efficiency is important but with the condition that the blockchain we use is also environmental friendly
As in any decentralized application with participants with different interests we will need to face some reluctance to innovation.
Shipowners may hesitate to make public their vessel records but once they realize that this will allow to enhance their bottom line they will understand they cannot be left out of the system.
• Environmental impacts.
Profiting for the public information vessel checks can be optimized in the ports of calls thus reducing fuel emissions when they need to make a special trip for a maintenance or control stop
Using an environmental friendly blockchain like Ignis by Jelurida Swiss SA makes the solution fully compliant with the climate change reduction
• Economic impacts.
Shipowners reduce the burden of planning their control stops because ship repair providers will offer them the better deals in time and geography
Ship repair will gain new opportunities as they can identify which vessels with pending controls will pass near their repair sites
Port authorities will reduce the control costs because they can check without intervention the status of compliance of every vessel making a call in their port
• Societal impacts
Strict maritime regulations are deployed to ensure that maritime traffic do not destroy the planet with spills and heavy Co2 emissions, this is why regulations and periodic controls are enforced to commercial vessels
The fact that this information will be publicly available for each vessel puts pressure on the brokers to contract for their traffics only compliant ships avoiding those that are not fulfilling international regulation.
The project has the potential to revolutionize maritime compliance, as once some shipowners include their vessels in the blockchain other shipowner will be forced to do so because market pressure.
The market approach is to show shipowners the advantages of joining the platform including the data or their vessels.
They wil make their purchase of repair services and controls easier because repair shops will propose the better places and deals to do them.
They will increase their business because traffic brokers will be more willing to work with those ships that have all their certifications published publicly.
Ships will reduce the bureaucracy for accessing the ports of call because the port authorities will chech directly in the blockchain the information.
The technology for deploying NFT’s is ready to use, it has not been used in maritime business but the difference with the current use (mostly art and games) is only the definition of the data that should be stored in the blockchain.
With the combination of the expertise of consortium partners there should be no inconvenience to launch a working product ready for commercialisation.
Source: By Adrià Berenguer (http://bmt-repairs.com), Francisco Sarrias (http://www.jelurida.com)