Logistics tech startup Haven has introduced two new features to its platform, which use machine learning technology to automate auditing of its electronic bill of lading and invoice services.

Founded in 2014, Haven already works with the top 30 carriers in the world as well as large international and regional freight forwarders. In short, the firm uses technology to streamline freight payment and documentation flow in global trade.

Its cloud-based platform for transportation management, Haven TMS, connects commodity traders, food producers and shippers to thousands of logistics providers in one place. Here they can manage and automate workflows, from quoting and booking to payments and the processing of bills of lading and invoices.

Introducing its new automated bill of lading and invoice auditing tool, Haven seeks to address the problem of discrepancies across documents within the industry – an issue that is often costly and time-consuming for firms: according to Haven, the average shipper is being overcharged by more than 10% of freight costs due to carriers’ mistakes with invoicing.

Many companies, it says, employ multiple people just to reconcile invoices that do not match the original confirmation provided.

The new features ensure that these shipment-related documents are correct. Using machine learning technology, the system can automatically detect and flag any discrepancies between an original quote and freight invoice, and between the shipping instructions and bill of lading.

If, for example, a bill of lading does not match the instructions, the platform automatically requests corrections from the carrier.

“Incorrect bills of lading and invoices were a consistent problem that we noticed across customers,” says Matthew Tillman, CEO and founder of Haven. “The result is a costly reconciliation process for both the shipper and their providers. Our new automated invoice auditing product solves disputes before they begin, so that customers and their providers can get back to doing what they do best: ship products.”

Haven is not the only firm seeing huge market opportunities in digitising and streamlining documentation for shipping, an industry that is still largely dominated by manual, time-consuming, paper-based processes. In response to the urgent need for digitisation, companies like Bolero and EssDocs are already helping firms and shipping lines worldwide go paperless.

Others have looked to newer technologies, such as blockchain, to modernise shipping documentation and the interaction between parties. Maersk Line, for one, announced a joint venture with IBM in January, which will release a blockchain-powered digital platform that gives large networks of disparate trading partners – including manufacturers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, shippers and customs authorities – a single shared, immutable, real-time view of a transaction. This will include digitising documentation, such as the bill of lading, and automating customs clearance processes.

Another firm using blockchain technology for the digital exchange and management of trade-related documents is Wave, the fintech startup that completed the world’s first live blockchain trade transaction with Barclays in 2016. Having spent the whole of last year developing its solution further, the firm is currently conducting pilots.

Haven, meanwhile, has taken a non-blockchain approach, with its CEO previously arguing that the industry suffers from more basic problems that don’t necessarily require blockchain be solved.

In an article in the American Shipper in October, Tillman wrote that, for many companies, the biggest priority should be on streamlining communications and removing information-flow blockages, before considering a blockchain adoption initiative.

“Many large shippers currently rely on outdated or minimal technology for basic day-to-day operations. This means there is often more easily-implementable, low-hanging fruit technology that can deliver bigger and more immediate returns, even if it’s not attracting the buzz of blockchain. As cutting-edge as it is, blockchain isn’t a substitute for the effectiveness of implementing more basic automation and standardisation practices,” he wrote.