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but paper BLs for a single transaction can run up to hundreds of pages.
Traditionally, the document is mailed to various parties leaving it open to fraud, loss of the original document and document-handling costs resulting in much inef ciency across the supply chain. It is estimated that trade document processing and administration adds 20% to the physical cost of shipping a single container.
A pilot initiative, TradeTrust, will start later this year to switch from paper-based BLs to eBLs. With eBLs, blockchain technology is used to provide all participants with proof of authenticity and provenance for electronic trade documents being exchanged. This would remove the need for repetitive checks by each country to ascertain the legitimacy of documents received.
The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will partner the MPA to lead TradeTrust development for eBLs. They will be supported by the Singapore Customs and the SSA.
Speaking in Parliament on 5 March 2019, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said, “TradeTrust will enhance our attractiveness as a business hub and improve the ef ciency of our trading and logistics sectors.”
Related changes to the Electronic Transactions Act will also be made to recognise eBLs to keep pace with international standards. The authorities hope the twin moves will speed up the acceptance of electronic document exchange in the maritime sector across the region, helping to reduce costs for businesses and lower the risk of fraud arising from the current use of paper documents.
Industry leaders have also come on board. Working with Airbus, Singapore-based Wilhelmsen Ships Services is piloting the use of Airbus’ Skyways unmanned air system (UAS) to deliver spares and supplies to vessels at anchorage. The trial, the  rst time drones are being tested in hectic, real-world port conditions, is a culmination of over a year of planning and collaboration between the two companies, with support from the MPA. Each is capable of carrying up to 4 kilogrammes and reaching vessels as far as 3 kilometres offshore, travelling through dedicated aerial corridors with autonomous control software.
“Delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat is an established part of our portfolio of husbandry services, which we provide day in and day out, in ports all over the world,” says Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Services. “Modern technology such as the unmanned aircraft system, is just a new tool, albeit a very cool one, with which we can push our industry ever forward and improve how we serve our customers.”
By replacing launch boats with drones, delivery costs can be lowered by up to 90%. It is also quicker and safer, with negligible environmental impact.
Wilhelmsen Ships Services is one of four companies tapped by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to help develop the future UAS regulatory framework for Singapore. The selected companies receive dedicated funding for their shore-to-ship delivery projects.
The Next Frontier
More changes are on the cards with the launch of 5G, the  fth-generation wireless standard
which has generated immense interests around the world. With its vastly improved Internet speed, coverage and latency, 5G will serve as a springboard for accelerated innovation, reshaping the way we live and work.
Singapore recently allocated S$40 million from its national budget to accelerate the development of 5G applications to support its ambition to lead in the global digital economy. For a start, the IMDA is exploring six strategic clusters where it expects 5G applications to generate the most value for Singapore – maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates, consumer and government applications and Industry 4.0.
High on the project list is productivity improvement at the Singapore port. Working with telcos Singtel and M1, PSA International is conducting an 18-month trial at the PSA Living Lab in Pasir Panjang to explore the use of driverless vehicles to move shipping containers round the clock between the quay side and the container yard. This will allow the PSA to load and unload more containers and turn around ships faster. The telcos will also set up trials for the remote control of port equipment such as cranes. The trials will pave the way for building the state-of-the-art port at Tuas.
“We see much potential in 5G augmenting our port operations – supporting remote tele- operation of equipment, complementing crane automation and enhancing Automated Guided Vehicle operations – through IoT (Internet of Things) adoption within the port,” said PSA’s regional CEO for Southeast Asia Ong Kim Pong.

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