DCSA Quarterly Newsletter – Issue 6

Read the sixth edition of our quarterly publication about standardisation for container shipping.

A word from our CEO Thomas Bagge

April marks DCSA’s 2-year anniversary. In that time, we’ve made solid progress towards creating a foundation for standardised digitialisation of some key industry processes, including track and trace and the bill of lading (B/L).

But creating the technological foundation is only the first step towards what’s needed to fulfill our vision of a digitally advanced and interoperable container shipping industry. Achieving this vision will require every stakeholder in the industry working together to create a transformation on par with what happened in 1956 when Malcolm McLean’s standardised container made its maiden voyage. Digital standards will enable a similar leap forward in terms of industry-wide collaboration and alignment to improve the customer experience, accelerate innovation and reduce impact on the climate.

Our focus for 2021 is to promote and facilitate widespread adoption of our digital standards. This is why we have recently joined with the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore to show that international trade can and will be done digitally in the imminent future. Over the past two years we’ve seen tremendous interest in our work from every corner of the industry, and this year our aim is to leverage that momentum to jumpstart the next chapter of container shipping’s journey. Are you ready to get on board?

Adoption highlights

In the first months of 2021 we had some exciting adoption news involving our member carriers and one of the world’s most innovative port authorities.

DCSA T&T standards adopted by majority

In April DCSA announced that 5 of our 9 member carriers have confirmed adoption of our Track & Trace (T&T) standards. MSC, ONE, CMA CGM, Yang Ming and Evergreen have already or will soon be providing customers with access to the API. The DCSA T&T API provides a streamlined way for shippers to receive real-time, cross-carrier data regarding the whereabouts of their containers. Read the press release here.

DCSA digital B/L standards enabling interoperability for eBL platforms and MPA’s digitalOCEANS™ initiative

Also in April, MPA of Singapore announced completion of a successful trial of electronic bill of lading (eBL) which demonstrated interoperability between different digital trade platforms using open standards. The trial also showed significant time savings in the BL documentation process from an average of 6 to 10 days to less than 24 hours when using an eBL.

DCSA was thrilled to enable interoperability for this momentous collaboration. “This is precisely the kind of innovation our standards are designed to facilitate. MPA has brought together numerous digital platforms to prove that eBL is not only within reach using our standards but provides significant cost savings as predicted,” commented DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge. Read the press release here.

Standards adoption: the What, Why and How

WhatWATCH DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge talk to Lloyd’s List about how DCSA is working to create a standards-based digital foundation not only for the benefit carriers and shippers but for the industry as a whole.

Why – WATCH DCSA Programme Director Niels Nuyens describe in detail how DCSA Track & Trace digital standards enable a better customer experience. With DCSA digital standards in place, booking and tracking a container shipment will become comparable to ordering dinner via food delivery apps. Carriers are adopting the DCSA Track & Trace API because it is a better alternative to EDI that will enable greater visibility across the multi-modal container journey.

How – For customers of ocean carriers:
Contact your commercial teams to learn how to get support for the DCSA Track & Trace API. 5 DCSA member carriers already have the API in place, and others are in the process of adopting.

For IT or technical teams in any organisation:

Step 1: Visit our cargo track and trace standards documents and read them.
Step 2: Go to SwaggerHub to access the DCSA T&T API definitions and Github for reference implementation to set it up. We are also working on an API validation toolkit – please check our website for updates later in Q2, 2021.

Q2/Q3 publication roadmap


DCSA will release interface standards for the submission of shipping instructions and B/L issuance, including API definitions and a reference implementation. These standards will enable all parties involved in the documentation process to work with a standardised bill of lading electronically from all carriers that have implemented the standards. Carrier customers who are looking for a standardised approach to eBL from multiple carriers can include these standards as requirements in their procurement process.

Booking process

DCSA will release standards enabling carriers to collect data needed for the requested service in a consistent way which will help to automate the booking process. Data collected during the booking process can also be passed through to subsequent steps in the shipping process such as the preparation and issuance of the B/L. This data will therefore also be relevant when informing other stakeholders such as legal authorities, reducing the need for duplicate data entry and potential errors.

Standardisation of these processes will increase efficiency and enhance transparency and compliance in international trade, which can lead to cost savings for both carriers and shippers.

T&T release enhancements

DCSA will release an enhancement to the current Track & Trace standard that will address adopter feedback by accommodating local requirements and adding missing values. These enhancements will mainly cover additional event types for equipment and the shipment journey. The enhancement should further accelerate adoption of the DCSA T&T API and replace existing integrations.