Ocean carrier APL, working with Califronia-based encryption and printing technologies firm Electronics For Imaging, has developed a system which obviates the need for paper-based Bills of Lading shipping documents.
The software enables exporters to transmit encrypted negotiable Bills of Lading (BLs) via the Internet directly to multiple third-party providers such as forwarders, consignees and banks, according to APL, the global container-transportation unit of Singapore-based NOL Group.
The technology, known as E-BL Print, triggers speedier documentation and financial settlements says Cindy Stoddard, APL's chief information officer. "By taking days out of the traditional, time-consuming document preparation, review and settlement process, the exporter gets paid faster."
A Bill of Lading attests that the ocean carrier has taken delivery of goods. Banks need to see a signed original of the BL before they will release funds to the seller. E-BL Print allows customers to specify the recipient, review and modify documents online, and print them directly at the bank.
Michael Hampel, logistics manager for Atlanta-based PM Global Foods, which has been piloting the new technology for APL, says: "We have seen an improvement of at least three to five days in overall document turn-around time, compared to our other ocean carriers. I have also seen a big reduction in our courier and delivery charges."