Blockchain and Shipping Containers
Blockchain technology is at the embryonic stage of development. A number of industries has realised its huge potential and none more so than Maritime, in particular Maersk.
We can see how, for instance, Maersk and IBM have unveiled the first Industry-Wide Cross-Border Supply Chain Solution on Blockchain that will benefit the industry using blockchain to manage transactions among network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities.
Blockchain and Vessel Maintenance
However, Blockchain has far more potential in maritime such as increasing transparency in vessel maintenance. Ship and MODU Owners purport to be open and transparent with all stakeholders and in particular Charterers such as Oil/Gas Majors when supporting Oil/Gas Field Developments with their Marine Assets.
Digitalisation, utilising Internet of Things (IOT), Blockchain and cloud-computing technology can provide a way to improve Ship and MODU maintenance processes for Ship/MODU Owners.
Vessel Operations performance monitoring, critical components and systems performance monitoring for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) could also benefit from the use of a technology that is new to maritime.
Blockchain can be used as a digital ledger shared by Ship and MODU Owners, OEMs and Class Societies and probably Flag State to record pertinent events, operations conditions (e.g. Polar Exploration/conducting critical, high risk activities), scheduled maintenance tasks of critical systems/equipment including DP Trial Testing, BOP Testing for example. Cruise Liners, carrying General Public would benefit greatly from this level of transparency and indeed as competitive advantages. The list is endless
Blockchain is best defined as a data structure that has the ability to establish a digital archive or to record blocks of data or transactions that can be shared and easily accessed by users across networks of different computers, according to IBM.
The blocks are verified and sealed in such a way the contained historical information cannot be corrupted or manipulated due to the transparency by everyone. Everyone in the case of Maritime being Shipowners, OEMs, Charterers, Class Societies, Flag States. This makes it beneficial for these organisations working together, using the same data.
Blockchain and Aviation
Looking to aviation as a benchmark for Maintenance activities associated with blockchain, Mr. Gotze of Lufthansa Industry Solutions articulates the massive potential in Aviation and we certainly believe this could bode well for Maritime in particular those Marine Assets that are digitalised and embracing Industry 4.0. He goes on to say:
“In future, components could be registered in a blockchain after they are manufactured together with all relevant data – for example serial codes. If a component is installed in an airplane, this information can be saved again in another blockchain. If the part then malfunctions, maintenance technicians can use the information stored to review the exact number of flight hours and to decide whether to replace or repair the part. If it is repaired, this information can then be saved in a separate blockchain for the component in question.
This makes it possible to seamlessly store documentation across different companies – from manufacturers to airlines to MRO service providers (maintenance, repair and overhaul). This is an incredible advance, as it means that the entire maintenance cycle of a single component can be reviewed in its entirety.
It reduces risk for MRO service providers in particular, as they can now use blockchain technology to provide verifiable documentation about the parts they have installed at any time. Other blockchain application scenarios in aviation include the secure management of certification from aviation authorities and technicians’ job cards.”
Leveraging Blockchain for Maritime Maintenance
It doesn’t take much to see how we can leverage this technology for Maritime (we accept Aviation is different to Maritime but the reasons not to adapt are weak), and not have it confined to the Container Supply Chain sector. But, one thing is for sure, Maritime has to adopt the correct maintenance strategy that essentially provides a cost-efficient scheduled, preventive maintenance programme that is safe and reliable as the foundation, just like aviation run MSG-3. Maritime can run Marine RCM.
This is a very exciting area that we need to openly discuss and we would welcome feedback. Yes, we accept Blockchain is a little way off (it is only as far off as we want it to be) but at least we have the capability and tools to develop the platforms now, providing maritime has the will and we believe it has.