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Enabling paperless operations in logistics - Part 2


In the previous section, we discussed the basics of electronic bills of lading (eBOL). In this part of the article, we will focus on the standards around eBOL and benefits of eBOL and how they can positively impact the logistics industry.

The transportation & logistics industry is constantly evolving, and paperless solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to the many benefits they offer. One such solution is the Electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL), which replaces traditional paper-based bills of lading with digital versions that can be easily accessed and shared across various stakeholders in the transportation process. Mobile apps and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology play a crucial role in enabling paperless eBOL.  In the first part of this series, we will delve into eBOL and how it is used in logistics operations.

Explanation of Industry Standards:

The adoption of eBOLs is supported by industry standards such as the Electronic Shipping Solutions (ESS) initiative, which provides a framework for the exchange of electronic documents in the transportation industry. The ESS initiative promotes the use of standard formats and protocols to enable seamless integration between various stakeholders in the transportation process.

The standards around electronic bills of lading (eBOL) are still evolving, but several organizations have developed guidelines and specifications to help facilitate the use of eBOLs in the shipping industry. Here are a few examples of standards around eBL:

  • UN/CEFACT: The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has developed the "eBL Core Components" specification, which outlines a set of core data elements that should be included in an eBL.
  • Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA): The DCSA has developed the "Digital Container Shipping Manifest (DCSM)" standard, which defines a data model for the electronic exchange of shipping information, including eBLs.
  • International Chamber of Shipping (ICS): The ICS has developed a set of "Guidelines for the Use of Electronic Bills of Lading" to help facilitate the use of eBLs in the shipping industry.
  • International Group of P&I Clubs: They have developed a set of guidelines for the use of e-Bills of lading, it provides guidance on the legal, practical and technical aspects of e-Bills of lading, with a particular focus on the use of e-Bills of lading in the context of P&I Club cover.
  • International Group of Container Lessors (IGCL): They have also developed a set of guidelines for the use of eBL, it covers the legal, technical and operational aspects of eBLs, with a focus on the use of eBLs in the context of container leasing.
These standards provide a framework for the use of eBOLs and can help to ensure consistency and interoperability between different systems and platforms. It's important to note that standards are continuously evolving and new standards may emerge as the technology and use of eBLs evolves.

Benefits of Digital BOLs Using Mobile App and OCR

Implementing a digital BOL system using mobile app and OCR offers several benefits over traditional paper-based BOLs. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Improved accuracy: By using OCR technology, the system can automatically extract data from the BOL and populate the digital form, greatly reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies.

  • Increased efficiency: With the mobile app and cloud-based system, BOLs can be created and managed in real-time, reducing the need for manual data entry and paper-based processes. This can lead to faster turnaround times, increased productivity, and lower costs.

  • Enhanced security: Digital BOLs can be stored securely in the cloud, with access restricted to authorized personnel only. This reduces the risk of loss, damage, or theft of physical BOLs, as well as unauthorized access or tampering.

  • Improved visibility: With the digital BOL system, authorized personnel can easily access and track BOLs in real-time, providing greater visibility and control over the supply chain.

  • Overall, implementing a digital BOL system using mobile app and OCR can greatly improve the efficiency, accuracy, and security of the supply chain, while also reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.



The use of paper-based BOLs in the transportation industry has long been a source of inefficiency, errors, and delays. However, with the advent of mobile app and OCR technology, it is now possible to create and manage digital BOLs in a fast, accurate, and secure manner.

By implementing a digital BOL system using mobile app and OCR, transportation companies can greatly improve their operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction. With the ability to create and manage BOLs in real-time, the system provides greater visibility and control over the supply chain, while also reducing the risk of errors and delays.

As the transportation industry continues to evolve, it is clear that digital BOLs using mobile app and OCR will play an increasingly important role in the industry. By embracing this technology and adopting best practices, transportation companies can stay competitive, improve their operations, and provide better service to their customers.

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