How do we pick the right carrier for your cargo?

Here at Twill we pride ourselves on making the shipping process simple for our customers. A crucial part of doing that is putting your cargo in the right hands – which means we put a lot time into picking the right carrier.

But what sort of things do we consider when we do this? What makes a good carrier? We asked Dedi Junaedi in our Customer Care team for his insight – here’s what he had to say:

“There is a lot of trust involved in the shipping industry and a lot of different parties have to work together. Our customers trust us to put their cargo on a carrier that will ensure its safe passage – so our relationship with carriers has to be strong. There are some key factors we take into consideration when recommending carriers to customers.”

Is the carrier reliable? Do they have a good reputation?

“One of the first things we look at when choosing a carrier is whether they have a good reputation and whether they are reliable. Sometimes we will have worked with a carrier a number of times in the past and so we know whether they are capable of doing a good job or not. We also have a close relationship with Damco, who have a number of core carriers that they use and trust, so we can make use of their pre-selected carriers and know that reliability won’t be an issue.

“To help in this process, we will provide feedback once or twice a year to those carriers we think are reliable. This helps us in the future to build up a base of information about the carriers we use and those that we know we can count on to do a good job.”

Do they fit the customer’s needs?

“The next thing we will check is whether the carrier meets the needs of our customer. This usually refers specifically to their schedule and transit time

“We might have found a carrier with a great reputation that we know is reliable, but ultimately if they can’t deliver to the schedule that our customer requires then we aren’t able to take the process forward.”

How is their service? Do they keep us informed?

“While ultimately, for Twill, our customer is the buyer, we are effectively the customer of the carrier. So when we are picking the right carrier, we will be sure to check whether they provide a good service to us at Twill.

“This usually includes aspects such as whether or not they are pro-active in keeping us updated throughout a cargo’s journey – so that we can then update our customer. It might also be about whether the data of their carrier and containers is kept up to date and how quick they are in supplying documents like the Bill of Lading that is so crucial to a cargo’s journey.”

How old are their containers, and what condition are they in?

“It is so important that our customer’s cargo is safe and secure throughout its journey, so the age and condition of a carrier’s containers is something we always look at closely. Are they showing signs of wear, or damage? When cargo is so important to a company’s success it’s crucial we make sure it will reach its destination in the same condition it left its origin.”

-Dedi Junaedi, Twill Customer Care

Don’t be afraid of failure, it’s a chance to learn

At Twill we encourage a very open and honest environment in our day to day working, encouraging our employees to communicate with each other, share knowledge and offer support. As part of this we believe that failures, when they arise, are not the end of the world, but instead an opportunity to grow and learn. We spoke to one Twiller, Alina Croitoru who is an Employee Experience Catalyst at Twill, about her views on overcoming difficulties and that dreaded word – failure:

Failure is a gift

“I genuinely believe failure is a gift. A gift that you give to yourself to learn, to grow, to have the chance to improve. And since I started my journey with Twill, this statement followed my steps. From my own little world, I am happy to share a few of my most important learnings from the community that represents Twill.

“I’ve learned to be vulnerable, to overcome my fear of being unguarded, of showing my sensibilities. The dynamics that people create in Twill showed me that being vulnerable does not make me weak – it only makes me wiser and stronger. Vulnerability gives opportunity to people to connect beyond what we express externally.

“I found the reinforcement of my belief that before or after our titles, we are humans, this is our first and most important role. Deep down, we are all aware of this aspect. However, I have always felt that due to our everyday pursuits, often these details are somehow forgotten. In Twill, I feel I have been brought back to the root values of genuine humanity – that is how we truly link with each other and this is what makes a business work.

Business is about people

“Business is, to the fullest degree, about people. You may think that reading this from a person that eats HR for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner sounds commercial. But before being a Twiller, I have always had the impression that in this corporate business lifestyle, sometimes it is neglected that our professional approach is anchored with our humanity through the way we work, the way we collaborate, whether we take risks or not and how we react and behave. Every single day gives us insights, gives us learnings from every person we are surrounded with, action that we take and thought that we have.

“I’ve learned that HR does not equal making people happy. It is more about enabling and helping people to find their best assets and use them to enhance their career journey in a more valuable way that gives a sense of purpose.

“At Twill, I have reinforced my ideas that all our principles, perspectives and ideas can come ideas can be converted into reality. Indeed, there are many factors on this whole process of creating something meaningful. However, a large element is the vibe that people build in a company, when you have awesome people to work with, that challenge you and believe in the same values as you do. Most importantly, you must not only believe, but act. I am happy to work in a company where integrity is truly showed through behaviour.

Use your time wisely

“I have acknowledged now that a career is a journey about learning. What we do is our footprint, sometimes in all people’s life, sometimes in none but our own, sometimes in a few. But doing what you believe in and sticking to your values is always the right and best decision, taking ownership on our actions in any case. If it is a mistake, it is our own responsibility to absorb the learnings and repair what we did with a solution. If we achieve success, always celebrate. If it did not move the mountain, keep searching and trying to find a way to get that mountain shifted! All our actions are of high value even though they can look like a minor activity. Aiming for quality beats by far, quantity and I’ve learnt that is crucial to use time efficiently and in a very well thought out manner. This means prioritising and sometimes choosing your battles.

“Last, but not least, I have realised that our jobs (even though I have never liked this word) are so different, yet so similar. Why? Well, everything evolves when a business has a customer-centric mindset. If a Business Development Manager’s focus of service is the external customer, a developer’s activity revolves in building a reliable product so that the previous role can showcase the quality of the product.

“I see business like a round cycle, without end because every dot is significant and consequential. Each role contributes to overall success. Learning is a never-ending process. Learning is about seeking progress. Growth stays in taking risk to fail. Growth stays in learning.”

-Alina Croitoru, Twill Employee Experience Catalyst

A day in the life of our Customer Care team – Part 2

At Twill we are always working hard to deliver for our clients around the world. The shipping industry relies on thousands of different people doing many different jobs and each person and job is important in the chain – without one, none of the others can succeed. This couldn’t be more true than when it comes to our Customer Care team – they keep our entire operation ticking.

So how do they do it? We recently spoke to Javier Pedrajas from our Import Customer Care team about his day-to-day working. This week we spoke to Fitria Lestari who works in our Export Customer Care team in Indonesia to see how her working day compares:

7:30am – Arriving & carrying out checks

“I tend to arrive at the Twill office at around 7:30am each morning – so it’s an early start, but I quickly feel ready for the day and ready to help our customers with their export journeys, queries and everything in between!

“The first thing I do after settling down is to log-in to the Twill platform and check on the various shipments that are already on their journey and those bookings that have been made since I was last in the office. In the export team we work particularly closely with shippers and suppliers – so our relationship with them is really important.

“Given that we have worked with some of them a number of times, they have come to know us well – but there is always the chance that a new shipper or supplier will be working with us for the first time, so I try and approach them all the same way and help make their booking as simple and smooth as I can.”

11am – Idea generation & checking workload

“After I’ve made sure our customers are happy and any immediate issues have been resolved early in the morning, it’s then time for me to get together with my colleagues to discuss our workload and spot any pressures some of us may be under. At Twill we understand that we have offices in a number of countries and each of those countries might have their own processes and way of doing things (not to mention time differences!), so while we have a global Customer Care Huddle – more on this later – we often gather together internally within our own offices to catch up on workload.

“Before lunch, we will have our idea generation meeting – which is a really unique and exciting opportunity provided by Twill as part of our job. Held once a week, the idea generation meeting is our chance as the customer care team, to feedback any issues we have spotted with the Twill platform, or even better, input to any new improvements or changes we have spotted that could be made. Sometimes these changes come through conversations with shippers and suppliers – which means they feel as though they are being heard – and for us it shows that the leadership at Twill know that we can provide interesting insights as the people who work with the platform every day.”

2pm – Helping our customers

“After a break for lunch, I get back down to the day’s tasks. That will sometimes involve picking up new enquiries, confirming new bookings or generally liaising with our customers. It could also be reviewing and uploading documents like the Bill of Lading – which will be crucial for cargo to complete the various steps on its journey through ports and customs.

“We have in the past communicated with our customers via telephone or email – and this is still the case sometimes, especially when we need to provide an urgent update. However, at Twill we have technology on our side and we are continuing to push towards a more digitised world in which we can unburden our customers with unnecessary emails and calls. If I can provide our customer with a smooth and hassle-free service then that is great for our relationship with them. As we expand to new countries and add new features to our platform these relationships will really be important so I always take special care in these conversations.”

4pm – Customer Care Huddle

“As it is near the end of the day I will have dealt with a host of customers and hopefully helped them all in some way, big or small. It is around this time in the day that we have the ‘Customer Care Huddle’ which is when all the different Customer Care teams around the world gather to discuss their workload, any issues they have and it is generally a good way to ensure everyone feels part of a global team.

“We hold these three times a week and due to time differences they offer different opportunities for each country – for example in the Netherlands the meeting occurs in their morning, whereas for us it is at the end of the day, so where they are looking ahead it is more of an opportunity for us reflect on our recent work and perhaps give them a heads-up on any issues if necessary.”

5:30pm – End of the day

“I head home around 5:30pm after what has been a busy day. If I have helped my customers in their journey then it will have been a successful day and I can look ahead to providing that same level of service tomorrow!”

-Fitria Lestari, Twill Customer Care

A day in the life of our Customer Care team – Part 1

At Twill we are always working hard to deliver for our clients around the world. The shipping industry relies on thousands of different people doing many different jobs and each person and job is important in the chain – without one, none of the others can succeed. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to our Customer Care team – they keep our entire operation ticking.

So how do they do it? We spoke to Javier Pedrajas from our import Customer Care team and found out what a usual day in the office entails for him:

Arriving & helping customers
9:00 am – “I get to work just before 9am and get myself settled for what is always a busy day – the Twill offices have amazing coffee; which always make the mornings easier!

“Where other jobs might ease into the day, we are straight to work because we have to check in with our colleagues in China, Vietnam and across Asia due to time differences. When we arrive at 9am it’s already 4pm in Shanghai and they’re nearing the end of the working day – so we have to make sure everything is going well for them and that if they have any issues we get them rectified as soon as possible. This is especially the case around busy periods such as Chinese New Year.”

Customer care huddle
10:00 am – “Three times a week at 10am we have our Customer Care Huddle – this is when everyone in the customer care team gathers together to discuss the day and week ahead and it’s a chance for us to see who has limited capacity and might need some support. Twill has a great environment for being able to talk and work together and this is a good example of that! Language barriers mean we can’t always help team members in dealing directly with customers – but we can help them with things like checking and updating ETAs (Estimated Time of Arrival) for shipments in transit to lighten their load.”

Tech check-in & assisting customers
11:00am – “Around mid-morning I’ll have my ‘tech check-in’ which is when I will get in touch with the tech support who provide the upkeep of our digital platform and review any tweaks, issues or changes that may need to be made to the platform. This isn’t always necessary, but at Twill we really want to deliver for our customers. So when I have a customer raise a difficulty or issue they’re having, I get a lot of joy out of fixing that for them – we always celebrate those small improvements here at Twill and I think that’s important.

“After our tech check-in, it’s back to helping our customers with their imports. We control shipments that have arrived, releasing them to go through customs and keeping them informed at all times with notifications on our platform and if it’s urgent then we will call them. We do this for all our customers, so there is some multi-tasking involved! But I find that a great challenge.”

Updating Twill platform & invoicing
2:00pm – “After a break for lunch, the afternoon at my desk is a mix of different jobs and tasks. I’ll continue to help our customers with their imports of course – this never really stops because we want to keep everything moving as smoothly as we can.

“Other than that, I will use the afternoon to go onto our digital platform and update the milestones for our customers – these show how cargo is progressing on its journey across the sea; then from the port and through customs. We are currently working on a smart milestone process, looking to atomize it from end-to-end, which will mean our customers are updated earlier on their shipments and we in the customer care team will be able to give more focus to urgent and rare cases that need more attention.

“The afternoon is also a chance for us to handle any admin tasks such as invoicing, or the ETA updates that I mentioned earlier. Equally, this might be when I look to give my colleagues some help if I have any time to spare.”

Idea generation meeting
4:00pm – “One of the more special things that we have at Twill, which is not something I have experienced at any other company, is an ‘idea generation meeting’ which is held every week. The purpose of this meeting is to gather the entire import customer care team and give us the opportunity to suggest changes and improvements that could be made to the Twill platform through our experiences with it.

“It’s this kind of start-up mentality that I always find exciting, being open and encouraging of change and making things better and smoother for our customers. It’s possible that we might even relay feedback or a suggested change that has been made by a customer – all ideas are welcomed no matter how small.”

5:30pm – “After a busy day, it’s off home to rest and relax before doing it again tomorrow. I’ve been at Twill since July last year – not long after it launched – and I love the modern, forward-thinking mind-set in the company and the way we can communicate with each other openly to bring the platform forward together!”

Javier Pedrajas – Twill Customer Care Ninja

We don’t know it is impossible

Twill is a story of innovation and growth. We aim to innovate the user experience of buying freight in order to make it as easy as buying a pair of shoes on Amazon. For industries not familiar with shipping, this may sound kind of unambitious, however for those working with shipping everyday this would sound like a figment of a child’s imagination.

It is indeed a tall order and it will take lots of new ideas and lots of energy to defy what is commonly understood to be ‘how we do things’.

An impossible task?

In a recent speech from our (Maersk) Chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe, he told a tale of the sun-powered flight “Solar Impulse 2”, which successfully circled the globe 100% powered by the sun.

To succeed in this task the plane itself had to have a massive surface and at the same time be super lightweight. When talking to engineers in the aviation industry this task was defined as impossible. Not accepting this answer, Bertrand Piccard reached out to the sailboat building industry – and the rest is history.

The plane was built and it succeeded on its mission of circling the globe. When Piccard was asked why the engineers of the sail-boat industry succeeded on a task that the aviation engineers had deemed impossible, he answered (very simple actually) that the engineers from the sailboat industry did not know it was impossible – they had never tried it before.

That is how I see Twill. We don’t know it is impossible and therefore we will succeed.

Keep focused every single day

I feel very lucky to work in a company where our focus is innovation and growth.

Every day we try to make it just one tad simpler for the customer to buy freight online, and keeping this mentality coupled with a portion of energy and not knowing what is impossible – who knows where we can take Twill. That is for me an amazing thought and the sole motivation to make sure we do a great job.

The pace of development

Lately, I read a piece by Warren Buffet on the topic of Optimism in TIME magazine.

He says: “I was born in 1930, when the symbol of American wealth was John D. Rockefeller Sr. Today my upper-middle-class neighbors enjoy options in travel, entertainment, medicine and education that were simply not available to Rockefeller and his family… Two words explain this miracle: Innovation and productivity.”

This comment made me stop in awe. He writes about the development from 1930 until now, which is an astonishing development, but I truly believe that when I sit in 2050 and look back from 1985 (my birth year) the development will have been even greater. Our globe will be wealthier, safer and more equal.

I’ve no doubt that enabling no-fuss, one-click, available to all international trade will have a massive role to play in this development – and I am proud and honored to know that the innovation we are part of in Twill could actually make a difference. This is innovation that matters!

The future of freight forwarding

Taking a slightly shorter term view, I would say that in just five years from now, the concept of freight forwarding will already be forgotten.

Instead of the industry demanding that the customer must know what ANS, VGM and HBL stand for, as well as knowing enough about geography to get an A+ in university, thanks to innovation a customer will just click ‘please deliver’ and get back to her real work of creating value for her customers.

Shipping Made Simple.

-Troels Stovring, Twill CEO

Forecasting Shipments: Why you need to do it and how you can do it better!

Forecasting your shipments may not immediately spring to mind as the most crucial part of your cargo’s journey, after all it isn’t as tangible as the vessel or cargo itself! However, without good forecasting, you could be left with cargo and no vessel to put it on – or vice versa. So accurate forecasting is actually a lot more influential than it may seem. 

Why do I need to forecast?

There are a number of reasons why forecasting is so important – some very obvious and others not so:

  • More time means less stress – One key benefit of good forecasting is that it will simply make your life easier. And not just that, it will make life much better for your suppliers, your warehouse teams, the ship liners you use, and others who support you – like us at Twill – because they will be able to plan and prepare for your needs.
  • Keep your customers happy – The best way to keep your customers happy is giving them the product they want when they want it. Forecasting the demand you expect for your product means you can ensure that the right products always have the right stock levels.
  • Cost-efficiency – There are a number of ways in which good forecasting can improve your cost-efficiency. For example, by identifying stock that is not selling, or is obsolete, you can remove it from your warehouses and future planning. This brings the cost for keeping these products down. Forecasting your shipments in advance will also allow you to secure better rates – instead of urgently booking shipments and potentially having to pay significantly more. Once again saving costs for you.

How do I forecast better?

So now you know why forecasting is so essential – how do you could you make sure you are doing it right? And how can you do it better?

  • Give yourself time – Time is your greatest friend in this business, so give yourself as much as you can. At Twill we always look to help our customers if they have to make an urgent shipment but ultimately we get the best rates and deliver the best service when we know about your needs well in advance.
  • Be aware of peak periods – It is important in your forecasting to understand the peak periods when rates or demand may be subsequent to change – these include dates such as Chinese New Year and Christmas, but there may be others – so build them into your work. 
  • Use data – Forecasting can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet – but when utilised well it can give great insights into your customers’ needs or trends within your products. Use all the data you have available to you to inform your forecasting and help make insightful decisions.
  • Use the right type of forecasting – In the context of a supply chain there are a few key types of forecasting: Demand, Supply and Price. It’s important to see how each could benefit you. Demand forecasting, for example, will help you see which of your products is in demand currently and looking ahead. Supply forecasting, however, will help in understanding the trends around you (technological, political etc.) that may affect supply. Price forecasting is based on data gathered on both demand and supply – which then provides a prediction of short and long term prices and can give you insight into the reasons for those trends.

Forecasting has the potential not just to make your life easier, but if done correctly, it could help you make serious savings and increase your revenue by helping you spot trends and generally understand your market better. It may take some time to get your forecasting established – but the potential benefits are certainly worth the work.

-Lina Hu, Twill Customer Care

From A to B – just how do we do it?

Getting your cargo from A to B is what we do here at Twill, thanks to our organizational structure. But as they say: it’s often easier said than done!

Getting your valuable goods from one side of the world to the other takes coordination, speed, proactivity and about a hundred smaller steps (coordinating with about as many parties). Luckily, we have a customer care team whose sole job is to ensure all those things happen!

The first step

The process starts with our customers describing their needs to us, and from there we take care of the rest. We even coordinate with your suppliers directly to ensure they are also informed of their roles in ensuring the process is cared for end to end.

When picking a freight forwarder, you’re entrusting a partner with your business. At Twill, we know that, and our organizational structure means that we have the expertise to help you with this journey. Some of the key aspects of the process may be invisible to you, but you can rest assured they are covered in Twill.

Twill plays the coordinating role

One important part of the process is choosing the right vessel for our customers’ needs and taking care of the origin activities for you. Depending on your transit needs, the type of cargo you need, or negotiating the best price, you can trust Twill has got you covered.

This can be tricky, but due to our partnership with Damco – a reputable and global freight forwarder – we know exactly what it takes.

We coordinate with carriers, customs agents, and origin locations to get you what you need.  Whether it’s selecting the right bill of lading or helping ensure you get space on a carrier, we take care of the steps with all parties involved, and you only have to contact one of us!

A streamlined process

If you know the world of freight forwarding well, these steps aren’t new to you and we can help streamline them all within one, easy to use platform. And if you’re unsure of the full process, again you can rest easy knowing we won’t let any critical step be missed.

And once we’ve gotten your cargo from A to B, we’re still not satisfied until we hear from you on your experience. Our favourite step with any booking is hearing directly from you on what went well and if there is more we can do.

Keep following our blog and you’ll see more details about these key process steps over the coming weeks!

-Barbara Peric, Twill Head of Operations

Twill’s exciting product journey in 2018

With numerous new product features planned, 2018 looks hugely exciting for Twill. And 2017 was a year full of learning for us.

We understood our customers better by dividing them into different groups based on needs; we learnt how to make our product scalable for new markets and services; we learnt how to keep product design consistent; and we gained a deeper knowledge of the behind-the-scene processes and have so many ideas about how to make them more efficient.

Now it’s time to apply all of those learnings and insights.

Our future journey

The key topic for Twill in 2018 is rapid growth. We have an ambitious business plan that we are all passionate about, and to support that, we’re in no doubt that the product journey ahead of us will be hugely exciting.

There are four key dimensions that we are focusing on in Twill’s product development.

  1. Launch Twill in more countries

Last year, we opened the UK, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic as import countries and China, Vietnam, Indonesia as export countries. This year, we will accelerate the pace and bring Twill to more destinations across the globe, including North America, South America and Australia. Based on our experience gained last year in terms of the process of rolling out to new countries and the scalability of our product, we are confident that we can continue to onboard international customers in an effective manner. This is a critical aspect of our growth and the improvement of essential product features.

  1. Expand our service scope

Another key aspect of our future growth is service scope. We started Twill with a mindset of doing one thing really well rather than doing everything averagely. Therefore, we were very specific about the service that we provided, focusing solely on ocean, FCL and FOB to start with. And because of that, we have been able to achieve good results in our current service offering.

Now we are ready to expand our service scope, offering new capabilities such as LCL, more value-added service, CIF etc. This will enable our customers to use Twill as THE platform to satisfy their diversified business needs.

  1. Improve the user experience

This is a never-ending journey for us. Last year, we released some high-rated product features based on our customers’ feedback, such as supplier initiated booking. This year, we want to take this to the next level by investing more time to engage with our customers. With some great initiatives in place already, we truly believe that Twill will continue to create great value for our customers.

  1. Design smarter ways of working

Here at Twill, our employees are our most important asset. Customer care, pricing and the sales team are our internal customers, and last year we worked closely with each other and improved our internal systems to enable the team to work smarter but not harder. This year, we will keep working together with the help of technology, to create an excellent working experience for all Twillers.

Every single day in the Twill office, you can feel the energy and excitement around the blueprint that we have ahead of us. I hope you are as excited as we are about all that is to come in 2018.

To learn more about our upcoming product features, subscribe to our newsletter below and stay ahead of the curve!

-Daisy Zhang, Twill Head of Product

Twill scoops strategic Damco award!

Yesterday evening (17th January 2018), Damco handed out a total of 7  strategic awards at their Global Leadership Conference in Copenhagen. They were focused on recognising overall performance in 2017, and the categories included Best Customer Win, Best Example of Cultural Behaviours and the People’s Choice Award.

We’re delighted to announce that Twill has been presented with Damco’s Best Global Strategy Initiative Award 2017. Despite only launching in April last year, we achieved our target for new customers more than a month ahead of plan in 2017!

It’s clear to see that Twill is already making its mark not only on Damco, but the entire freight forwarding industry – and we’re proud to be writing new chapters about what our future looks like every single day.

Reinout Croon, Global Head of Strategy at Damco and the sponsor of the award commented: “Although our strategy is for the long term, it’s also important to celebrate the early successes we have. In the past year, Twill has really confirmed to be one of those successes. It’s a growth accelerator for Damco and will become more and more important in our business.”

Troels Stovring, CEO of Twill added:“I want to thank everyone in Damco for the support that they have given us. We couldn’t have done this without all the great teams in the countries we rolled out in 2017. Special recognition has to also go to all the Damco teams in China, the UK, Spain, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Poland who have been instrumental in getting Twill off the ground.

“The collaboration between Twill and Damco in 2017 has been key – and while I truly believe that software, customer focus, new energy and new skills will transform our business, I have always said that this will only happen if we mix it with the right foundation, experience and already existing assets. That is why Twill is a standalone start-up utilizing the operational set-up of Damco – a top 20 global freight forwarder.”

All of us Twillers are really excited to have won this award, and we can’t wait to continue making Twill an even bigger success together with the support of the countries we’ll go to in 2018! Watch this space!

What can Blockchain technology do for Twill?

By now, everyone in our industry will have heard of Blockchain technology, the most famous implementation of which would be Bitcoin. However, today I don’t want to talk specifically Bitcoin, but rather its underlying technology.

A Blockchain runs on a “distributed ledger” network, which simply translates as a series of distributed databases, or nodes, in more technical terms. Each node contains a copy of all available stored transactional data and plays a role in deciding if new incoming transactions are “worthy” of being added to the chain of transactional data.

Proof of Work vs. Proof of Stake

This idea of “worthy” transactions is important here as this is where all nodes decide according to a given mathematical algorithm (e.g. Hashing/Encryption) whether incoming transactions, accumulated in blocks of a predetermined size in bytes, are considered valid. If 51% of all nodes agree a new block is valid, it is added to the chain. This consensus function is called “Proof of Work”.

Alternatively, one could opt for a “Proof of Stake” consensus function, where the node with the highest fraction of holdings (expressed in the number of crypto coins) gets to decide which block is added to the chain next.

Blockchain technology proof of stake & proof of work


But Blockchain technology still has two important problems yet to be solved; namely scalability and privacy.

Scalability is an issue because current existing Blockchains can only process between three and twenty transactions per second.

Let’s say we want to keep track of all shipment changes on our Twill platform using Blockchain. This means we can only process up to 20 shipment updates per second. Any more than that will force us to create a queue.

Now for ocean freight, this low amount of transactions should not cause much trouble as users don’t need to be updated the very second something happens with their shipment.

Having to queue updates for a few minutes is no big deal. But if we look at the number of updates required for all types of freight forwarding and perhaps other forms of freight transport combined, queueing transactions for over an hour or more might result in more serious delays.

The second problem for Blockchain is privacy. Now, the technology was created with several key features in mind: transparency, decentralization and immutability.

But all transactions taking place within a Blockchain are visible to the entire network. So, if any given seller sells a shipment of goods/containers to any given buyer, this transaction is known to all nodes. This means that all competitors who might share a node within the same Blockchain now know this transaction has taken place.

The entire history of transactions, in this case, is copied on all nodes, so every transaction that happened on the Blockchain is known to everyone in the network, thereby making your transactions and business practices visible to the whole network!

In addition to this, information stored in the Blockchain cannot be altered. So, despite a loss of privacy, this does give users ultimate traceability and transparency.

Twill coin?

It remains to be seen just where Blockchain technology will end up in the development landscape at Twill.

Perhaps we will be able to use it as a form of event-sourcing, to serve as our own source of audit trailing in order to validate what goes on behind the curtain to the outside world?

Or perhaps a more ambitious use of Blockchain technology would be where container shipments can be paid in Twill coins, where our exchange rate is decided by supply and demand of container loads at certain ports?

It certainly sounds exciting…

– William van den Bosch, Twill Software Engineer