DCSA Quarterly Newsletter – Issue 7

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

A word from our CEO Thomas Bagge

As vaccination picks up pace, it is a relief to see the threat from COVID diminish from last quarter to this. Travelling to meet industry stakeholders face to face is our hope for the fall, as driving digital transformation through collaboration is all about making connections with the people involved.

To fulfill our vision of a digitally advanced and interoperable container shipping industry, we took some key steps in Q2 2021. As you recall, we published B/L data and process standards in Dec 2020. To enable digitalisation, we published B/L interface standards in Q2. And B/L is just the beginning, we will continue to standardise and digitalise other documents in the shipping process to greatly simplify international trade.

This quarter we also announced the launch of the DCSA Adopter Programme, a free programme allowing every organisation that has adopted a DCSA standard to publicly demonstrate their adoption. More importantly, it enables customers of container shipping looking for standards-based solutions to incorporate DCSA self-certification checklists (SCCs) into their procurement process.

Engage with us! It’s easy to do if you sign up to become a DCSA reference user. Driving change requires input from all industry participants.

eBL – Good for business and good for the world

Standardising digital documentation improves international trade and fraud control

Standards will enable data sharing to fight illicit wildlife trade

At a global shipping roundtable hosted by several regulators, NGOs and associations¹, we heard some highly alarming statistics on the illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

  • By dollar amount IWT is the 4th largest transnational organised crime
  • Annually IWT and forest crimes account for $200+ billion in revenue
  • Environmental crime is growing at 7% a year, 3 times the pace of the global economy
  • 6,000 species were seized between 1999 and 2018 by traffickers from 150 countries
  • While container shipping is used for the majority of IWT, less than 2% of all containers is physically checked by customs

Criminals are able to evade detection because it’s extremely difficult for customs and law enforcement to target them using manual, paper-based processes. There were examples of import and export documents listing different wood types for the same container. This should be a red flag for customs, but it can be easily missed because data is not standardised, digitalised and exchanged across the supply chain. During the roundtable, our work at DCSA, such as standardising the electronic bill of lading (eBL) and striving for digital interoperability, was discussed as the foundation needed for the industry to leverage technology such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for fighting these horrific crimes.

DCSA eBL interface standards with API definitions

In Q2 we released interface standards for the submission of shipping instructions and B/L issuance, including API definitions. These standards will enable shippers to process a standardised eBL from all carriers that have implemented the standards. Carrier customers looking for a standardised approach to eBL from multiple carriers can include these standards as requirements in their procurement process.

Visit here to download the DCSA Electronic Bill of Lading (B/L ) standards documents and read them. Go to SwaggerHub to access the DCSA eBL API definitions and (soon) Github for a reference implementation to set it up fast.

Noteworthy industry collaboration activities

In 2019 only 0.01% of all B/Ls was issued electronically. To enable faster adoption of eBL, we are collaborating with numerous parties that have a big stake in the shipping “paper trail”, including International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), SWIFT, BIMCO, FIATA and IGP&I.

In September, we’ll join forces with IATA in support of their Hackathon by asking the community to help “solve the digital identity challenge for container shipping”. There will be a prize and bragging rights, so get ready to take on the challenge!

Let the industry know you’re a standards adopter!

In June, DCSA launched its free Adopter Programme to let solution and service providers publicly demonstrate their adoption of DCSA standards using the DCSA Self-certification Checklist (SCC). The programme will also enable customers of container shipping as well as other industry stakeholders to streamline vendor selection when seeking standards-based, interoperable solutions.

Evidence of DCSA standards adoption can be provided in a standard format (the DCSA SCC) when issuing RFIs, RFPs and tender requests. In turn, responding vendors will be able to provide pre-filled documents along with the outputs of DCSA API tools demonstrating their adopter status.

Learn more about the programme by downloading the DCSA Adopter Programme Handbook here dcsa.org/adopt. The SCC for DCSA Standards can also be freely downloaded from the respective standards pages on the DCSA web site.

Vision of a better digital future for container shipping – a conversation among a carrier, a shipper and DCSA

Digital transformation brings unique opportunities and complications for each part of the container shipping supply chain and digital standards need to balance the needs of all.

To get the full 360-degree view of this vital and fascinating subject, we invited journalist Robert Taylor to chair a panel discussion between a shipper, a carrier and the DCSA. In this series of extracts from that discussion, Robert interviews Andre Simha, who is both the Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC and Chairman of DCSA. To provide the viewpoint of shippers, he hears from International Maritime Hall of Fame member and shipping executive Rick Gabrielson who previously led international transportation for major brands like Target and Lowe’s. They are joined by DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge.

Check out the video series

Q3 publication roadmap

Just-in-time port call interface standards
In July we released interface standards with API definitions for the first 18 timestamps defined in our JIT port call data definitions. The standards, which are currently being tested by carriers and terminal operators at two ports, enable automated data exchange between carriers, ports and terminals for the four main events involved in any port call:

    1. Berth arrival planning
    2. Pilot boarding place (PBP) arrival planning
    3. PBP and berth arrival execution and start cargo operations
    4. Cargo completion and port departure planning
    5. Berth departure execution

This is the second publication of the DCSA JIT Port Call Programme, which will ultimately include more than 50 event timestamps, providing a complete framework for all activities involved in the four main port call events.

Track & Trace Standard v2.1
Based on feedback from carriers and their experience rolling out our Track & Trace standard to customers, we will release a new version of the standard in August, version 2.1, with key updates to terms and attributes. The interface standards, API specification and reference implementation will also be updated, along with all accompanying documents, such as the DCSA Industry Blueprint and Information Model.

Everyone currently using the DCSA T&T standard or preparing to adopt the standard should switch to v2.1 when it’s available. Stay tuned for our release announcement.


¹ UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), Container Control Programme, LEAP (by UNODC and WCO), TRAFFIC, EIA (Environment Investigation Agency), FIATA, WWF and United for Wildlife