As the TradeLens team's work on digitizing the supply chain continues, we often refer to two key statistics that provide perspective:
Reflecting on those remarkable numbers, we know that the work we're doing to help simplify and digitize the shipping document workflow is going to save billions of dollars for businesses and trade authorities around the world.
We recently took another step towards that objective with the introduction of document sharing. Now structured documents, like digital bills of lading and invoices, as well as unstructured documents, like scanned copies of packing lists, can be shared on the TradeLens platform.
This is huge because the ability to track documents end-to-end for a shipment is one of the two main goals — along with visibility of the milestones within a shipment — that we have set for the TradeLens platform.
Each time a document is edited, a new version is created and added to the platform without deleting or changing the old one.
The problem we’re solving comes from the need to access, share and update documents from end-to-end flow of a shipment. The hundreds of potential versions and types of documents attached to any shipment—all coming from different people or organizations and going to different people in the supply chain—are currently exchanged one-to-one. This causes a lot of administrative complexity and can lead to problems which makes the process laborious and error prone.
In contrast, our platform provides a shared and trusted, immediate source for documents that will save time, effort and frustration for everyone up and down the ocean and inland supply chain. Here’s how the new document sharing functionality of TradeLens helps clear up today’s documentation challenges:
Real gains from document sharing are going to come from how TradeLens handles structured documents. This feature eliminates paper from the supply chain—and all its inefficiencies. It’s also going to transform work flows by reducing the need to manually enter the same data repeatedly. When a structured document goes in at the factory or port, the data will be instantly useable to the entire supply chain and accessible to those who have the correct permission to see it.
When we think about that stat of 200 documents per shipment, we realise that the ability to consume documents as data without manual input is going to hugely reduce redundant work. Today, you can share over 18 types of unstructured and structured documents with the platform, and you can edit structured documents within the platform as well.
New documents could be generated by a system that knows where to find information it needs from existing documents.
We are constantly adding to that number and we’re already working on new ideas to enhance document sharing capabilities. Here are some capabilities we are investigating for future deployment:
It won’t be long before those numbers I referenced at the top of this article start dropping. In fact, it can't happen fast enough. We're happy to be part of the solution. You can be too.