Port of Antwerp tests Blockchain Software System


T-Mining is currently working on a pilot project that will make container handling in the port of Antwerp more efficient and secure. Using blockchain technology, processes that involve several parties – carriers, terminals, forwarders, hauliers, drivers, shippers etc. – are securely digitised without any central middleman being involved.

Just getting a container from point A to point B frequently involves more than 30 different parties, with an average of 200 interactions between them. Given that many of these interactions are carried out by e-mail, phone and even (still, nowadays) by fax, paperwork accounts for up to half of the cost of container transport.

“We aim to do something about this,” says Nico Wauters, CEO of T-Mining. This Antwerp start-up has developed a solution for a recognised problem in the port. When a container arrives in the port it is collected from the terminal by a truck driver or shipper. To ensure that the right person picks up the right container a PIN code is used. However, the PIN code is transmitted via a number of parties, which of course is not without risk. Somebody with bad intentions can simply copy the PIN code, which naturally can cause great problems.

“We have developed a very secure solution for this,” explains Nico Wauters. “Currently, when we want to transfer a valuable object we generally make use of a trusted intermediary to carry out the transfer. For instance, when you want to sell a house the notary not only carries out all the paperwork but also ensures that the money lands safely in your bank account while the buyer receives full title to the property, without any unpleasant surprises for either party. But this intermediary naturally does not work for free, and furthermore the additional step causes extra delay.”

The blockchain solution overcomes these issues, permitting safer and faster transfer of valuable objects, fully digitally and without a middleman. “With our blockchain platform the right truck driver is given clearance to collect a particular container, without any possibility of the process being intercepted. Furthermore our blockchain platform uses a distributed network, so that the transaction can go ahead only if there is consensus among all participating parties, thus excluding any attempts at fraud or undesired manipulations.”

A pilot project is currently running in the port of Antwerp with a limited number of parties. “We want to test whether it all works smoothly in practice,” says Nico Wauters. “Together with PSA, MSC, a forwarder and a transporter, we ensure secure handling of the first containers on our blockchain platform. Thanks to the City of Antwerp we even have an office in Singapore where we are working hard to introduce our solution there too. Our ambition is to serve the first paying customers by the end of this year,” Nico Wauters concludes. Source: Port of Antwerp

Port of Antwerp calls for global ‘port-ranking’ standards

Port of Antwerp [Picture -  Porttechnology.com]

Port of Antwerp [Picture – Porttechnology.com]

Port of Antwerp has issued its 2013 Annual Report which contains an interesting ranking of the largest ports worldwide.

According to the Port of Antwerp, throughput figures of different ports cannot be compared as ports do not use uniform definitions: some ports (most importantly Singapore) apparently use freight tons (metric tons or volume tons, whichever is higher).

According to Antwerp’s estimates, Singapore handles slightly more than 400m tons, instead of the 560m tons reported by the Maritime and Ports Authority of Singapore. However, their ‘correction factor’ may not be accurate.

Port of Antwerp’s definition of throughput is focused on ‘international throughput’. That is a debatable definition, as it leads to the exclusion of domestic traffic by seagoing vessels. For this reason, and partly because the Chinese ports apparently also include barge traffic in total volumes, the Chinese ports of Shanghai and Ningbo are substantially smaller in Antwerp’s figures than in their own statements.

So, surprisingly, the largest port of the world according to Antwerp’s annual report is Rotterdam! This goes to show that their effort is not intended as a marketing effort to favour Antwerp. If that was the case, they could have taken the port area to identify the largest port. This indicator puts Antwerp firmly on top as Europe’s largest port, with about 13,000 hectares, compared with Rotterdam’s more than 10,000 hectares. But clearly, the port area is an indicator of limited value, both due to differences in the definitions and for its limited relevance.

The Antwerp ranking does demonstrate the variety of definitions used in measuring port throughtput. For instance, in Europe ports throughput numbers do not fully match with Eurostat’s throughput data. This variety of definitions does not only apply to throughput, but also for other indicators such as modal split and employment in ports. That hampers international comparisons, benchmarking as well as academic research.

An authorative effort to create global standards would be good news for the port industry. Source: Porttechnology.com