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Shippers Could Save Billions Annually with e-Bills of Lading

Shippers Could Save Billions Annually with e-Bills of Lading

Written by Dr Raymon Krishnan, Editor-at-Large

According to the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), shippers could save up to US$4b billion in costs annually over the next ten years if fifty per cent of the market adopted the usage of electronic Bills of Ladings.

Despite the fact that the idea has been around for around 30 years, it has not gained much traction. Even IATA who have been pushing the use of e-AWB’s have had quite a challenge getting forwarders and shippers to adopt this for airfreight.

With the difficulties in moving paper documentation around the world with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year has however started to drive adoption in container shipping.

According to one industry expert, “The pandemic has brought an urgency to 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.”

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 to move documents via air transport the authorities and banks in some countries are harder to be convinced to make the switch.

Today there are situations where you cannot use an e-Bill of Lading as there are some countries that will not accept a document which is not on paper and signed and stamped. There needs to be a concerted and co-ordinated effort to overcome this.

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