ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — essDocs, a company that enables paperless trade, partnered with an industry group of members of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) to implement a project that will digitize barge trading documents to be transmitted electronically.

Following a search process, the NGFA group tasked with forming a new digital barge documentation process selected essDOCS’ CargoDocs solution to a nationwide digital barge document platform for counterparty trades. The NGFA eBarge solution will digitize the 70,000 to 100,000 negotiable barge bills of lading that NGFA members handle each year.

The group directing and funding the project includes representatives from the NGFA and the following member companies: Bunge North America Inc., Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co., CGB Enterprises Inc., CHS Inc., The Gavilon Group, Louis Dreyfus Co., Zen-Noh Grain Corp., American Commercial Barge Line and Ingram Marine Group.

According to the NGFA, it has more than 1,000 member companies that are responsible for merchandising more than 75% of U.S. grains and oilseeds produced annually for domestic and export markets. NGFA members’ annual domestic barge trades involve cargoes carried by approximately 17,000 barges, managed by 15 to 20 barge lines and traded between 30 to 40 companies. These shipments flow from 150 origins to around 40 destinations nationally.

The solution will be based on a customized version of essDOCS’ CargoDocs DocEx platform, which will digitize the administration of the barge trade.

The system will digitally handle the trade chain and documentation process to increase speed, efficiency and visibility while protecting confidential business information and without altering the way trades occur. Initially, the digital solution will be used to address barge bills of lading traversing the Illinois and Upper Mississippi River System but has the potential to be expanded in the future to other regions, such as the Columbia and Snake River System in the Pacific Northwest.

“From its inception, this has been an exciting and rewarding project with enormous potential benefit for the industry,” said Charlie Delacruz, senior vice-president, general counsel and secretary. “NGFA is proud to be a part of this industry-driven project. essDOCS was selected by the industry group from a field of strong candidates for multiple reasons including essDOCS’ reputation, experience in the industry, and that its proposal stood out as the best fit while being the most cost-effective.”

Detailed scope work is currently underway, with development, testing and delivery of the NGFA digital barge solution split into two phases and targeted for completion by end the first quarter of 2020.

“This type of ambitious market-wide project is becoming the norm even in logistics and trade, as digitalization is now widely acknowledged as a key factor in the success of companies globally,” said Alexander Goulandris, co-chief executive officer of essDOCS. “We are delighted to partner with the NGFA member group and aim to deliver massive digitization of this market in just a few short months.”

NGFA, established in 1896, consists of more than 1,000 grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 7,000 facilities. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry.

essDOCS enables paperless trade. Its solutions digitize and automate paper-heavy processes, including: online creation/approvals/management of all export documents, data extraction and structure from paper documents and back-office automated checks, end-to-end eDocs management for original electronic trade documents such as Bills of Lading and Warehouse Warrants, application/issuance of electronic Certificates of Origin  and fully digital trade instruments under URBPO.

Over 46,000 companies, ranging from 31% of the Fortune Global 100 to innovative SMEs, use essDOCS solutions across 203 countries.