The major explosion in the Port of Tianjin in August 2015 damaged and destroyed over 7,500 intermodal shipping containers. The damage and the resulting supply chain disruption led to insured claims of around $9bn. The most immediate problem however for shippers and insurers was the inability of many of them to actually confirm what was where in the port at the time of the explosion.
Tracking of specific containers and their contents is not cost effective when the contents are not high value, but the lack of information can also prove costly.
The trial by IBM and Maersk to use the blockchain to track containers not only offers the direct benefits that are mention in this article, but should also allow a clearer understand for insurers of where containers and contents are, allowing a better understanding of the risks, both through the full journey and in the case of occurred or impending catastrophes (e.g., when a typhoon is heading towards a port and the insurer needs to be clear on their aggregated risk position).
It is often the case that what helps an insurer manage their portfolio of risks better is data that is created for other purposes. This is likely to be one such example, and could, if handled smartly, lead to a more sophisticated approach to cargo risks.
Traditionally, a simple shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through nearly 30 people and organizations, including more than 200 different interactions and communications among them, said the IBM announcement.