BIMCO has launched the "25 by 25 pledge", a commitment by some shippers in the bulk sector to move 25% of their annual seaborne trade volume for at least one commodity using electronic bill of lading by 2025.
The pledge is part of an ongoing effort to accelerate trade digitalisation and streamline the supply chain process in the bulk sector.
The use of electronic bills of lading (eBLs), according to BIMCO, increases efficiency, reduces costs and improves the overall transparency and security of trade. In contrast, paper bills of lading are inefficient, slow down trade and are vulnerable to fraud and human error, said BIMCO.
The use of paper bills, therefore, poses unnecessary legal and commercial risks such as relying on letters of indemnity or getting lost in transit, as commented by BIMCO officials.
"The wider adoption of electronic bills of lading is an important step in the shipping industry’s digital transformation," noted Grant Hunter, director of Standards, Innovation and Research at BIMCO.
"We are delighted that some major players in the dry bulk sector have already backed this community initiative to reach 25% usage across the entire bulk sector. These mining companies have made good headway with adopting eBLs over the past years, mainly with iron ore, but much more can be done," Hunter added.
Hui Ling Chan, vice president of Order-to-Cash Global Business Services at BHP, one of the world's largest miners said, "Identifying and driving innovative solutions is key to the way BHP operates, and we are committed to supporting the digital transformation in the shipping industry together with our supply chain partners. We are pleased to be a signatory to the 25 by 25 pledge and hope others will join with us to support the acceleration of trade digitalisation and streamlining of the supply chain process."
Laure Baratgin, head of Commercial Operations at Rio Tinto, said, "As the largest dry bulk shipper in the world, one of our ambitions has been to continuously improve the experience of doing business with Rio Tinto for our customers and supply chain through innovative end-to-end digital solutions."
Erick Tavares, sales administration manager at Vale, a leading global iron ore supplier commented, "Vale takes great pride in being among the first to sign the 25 by 25 pledge. Innovation and digitalization are levers for us to reach our ambitions, and over the past decade, we have worked tirelessly to digitize our operations both internally and externally, always with a focus on enhancing the customer experience."
Owners and operators also have an important role to play in the switch to electronic bills of lading, as they are key stakeholders in this process, and BIMCO invites their support for the initiative.