Eswaran Brothers completes Sri Lanka’s first-ever electronic bill of lading

Eswaran Brothers Exports, one of Sri Lanka’s premier tea suppliers for over five decades, became the first exporter out of the country to adopt eBL from ‘TradeLens’, a digital supply chain platform underpinned with blockchain technology that allows electronic issuance, transfer, and surrender of original bills of lading.

Eswaran Brothers’ initiative to adopt TradeLens eBL comes at the time when the Digital Ministry of Sri Lanka is building and implementing a holistic strategy to address all pillars of digital transformation. The strategy includes a cluster of digitisation projects and organisations that have come together to unlock the potential of new technologies for economic growth and the overall betterment of society.

One such project, which TradeLens is also involved in, is the instillation of a data integration solution called ‘ASYHUB’, currently developed by UNCTAD, which allows for the smooth exchange of cargo data between the customs IT system, ASYCUDA, and multiple trade data providers. The Ministry has immensely supported Maersk’s drive to promote the use of TradeLens eBL and other digital solutions in the country.

Minister of Youth and Sports and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development Namal Rajapaksa congratulated Eswaran Brothers, Maersk and TradeLens teams on the completion of the first eBL in Sri Lanka.

“We believe digitalisation is the cornerstone of operational efficiency for our business stakeholders across supply chains. The collaboration of Sri Lanka’s traders and other stakeholders in the supply chains with TradeLens is a very important step in strengthening this digital agenda and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to digital transformation. We are excited to be a part of this digital journey, that TradeLens offers the Sri Lankan shipping and logistics industry,” Rajapaksa said.

“As we cater to markets in over 52 countries, we realised digitisation is the key to streamline our business easily across the global supply chain. With the TradeLens eBL, we’ve digitised our manual paper-based processes. This has helped to reduce errors, improve security, and have mitigated chances of any additional costs. We are also able to offer superior customer service. We are very pleased to partner with Maersk for TradeLens’ simple and straightforward eBLs,” Eswaran Brothers Exports Vice Chairman Subramaniam Eassuwaren said.

TradeLens is a carrier-neutral, blockchain-enabled digital supply chain platform, jointly developed by Maersk and IBM. The solutions offered by TradeLens are accelerating the digitisation agenda of the supply chain industry around the world by transforming manual, paper-based and time-consuming administrative processes into digital ones.

TradeLens allows an original bill of lading to be digitally issued and moved electronically through its journey with all the stakeholders. This not only reduces the hassles of sending physical papers from one stakeholder to the other through a courier process, but also eliminates the possibilities of documents getting lost or forged and eliminates all sorts of inefficiencies from manual processes.

Maersk Sri Lanka and Maldives Country Manager Siddharth Iyer said: “At Maersk, we are constantly working towards connecting and simplifying our customers’ supply chains. This means that we cover every aspect of the integrated container logistics solutions that we are offering in the market. TradeLens has brought to table solutions that will delight our customers with ease of doing business, visibility, speed, and safe and secure digital solution that will create value for them.”

Apart from issuing eBL, TradeLens members can use the platform to connect within the logistics ecosystem and share information needed for their shipments based on permissions, without sharing sensitive data. TradeLens makes it possible to access data from the source in near real-time, boosts the quality of information, provides a comprehensive view of data as cargo moves around the world, and helps create a timelier, secured record of transactions.

Launched in 2018, the TradeLens ecosystem now includes more than 350 organisations – extending to more than 10 ocean carriers and encompassing data from more than 600 ports and terminals. It is fully integrated with both SAGT and CICT in Sri Lanka, meaning importers and exporters have access to a pre-built supply chain ecosystem.  Already, the platform has tracked 50 million container shipments, 2.5 billion events and roughly 25 million published documents.