Currently, all ports are working on their digital transformation, often independently of each other. By joining forces, sharing data and working together, we keep logistics future-proof and expand the world of possibilities, suggests Martijn Thijsen, Digital Strategy, Transformation & Business Development – Containers, break-bulk & logistics, Port of Rotterdam
Q Blockchain technology is being discussed more in the shipping and logistics domain? Why has the technology gained such importance?
Blockchain technology is very suitable for providing insight into global trade lanes and optimising port calls. In collaboration with the Dutch ABN AMRO Bank and Samsung SDS, the Port of Rotterdam has initiated a pilot based on blockchain technology. The ultimate goal is to achieve a complete, paperless integration of physical, administrative and financial streams within international distribution chains. Payments, administration and the physical transportation of containers are mostly still entirely separate circuits, resulting in delays and inefficiency as many parties are involved.
Technologies such as blockchain are starting to prove their added value and we are discovering new applications every day. So we are only starting to see and unlock the true potential.
Q To what extent has the Port of Rotterdam embraced Blockchain in its operations?
Using ‘DELIVER’ the BlockLab set up by the PoR, we are working on an open, independent platform that connects blockchains and other technological networks in order to make logistics chains more transparent and efficient. By bringing together physical, administrative and financial streams, we enable banks to co-finance an entire trade lane. When a container travels around the world, payment is usually not made until a few weeks later. This particularly affects small businesses. If a bank sees that the bill of lading has been transferred to the next party in the chain, it can redistribute the money, and smaller parties can also get their invoicing and financing done. The pilot project initially concerns multimodal transport of a container between Asia and the hinterland of Rotterdam. In addition to the PoR, Samsung SDS and ABN AMRO, other parties may also join in the future. ‘DELIVER’ acts as a link between different blockchains and other networks. We act as a notary. We do not retain validated information from linked networks, but pass it on.
Q What role can Blockchain play in transforming the Port of Rotterdam into a future proof port? Our Blockchain effort is part of our Port Forward Strategy. This includes a range of digital tools that enable digitalization of port operations and supply chain efficiency and transparency. These tools can also be used by other ports to raise their digital level of maturity. Examples include the Pronto tool for Port Call Optimisation, the Streamline platform for streamlining container volumes and tools being developed such as Boxinsider and an automated trucking solution. The tools contribute to the creation of a single point of truth.
The Port of Rotterdam uses them to optimise cooperation within the port community and with hinterland parties and also aims to use them for data exchange with ports and logistics players. The need for standards for data exchange in logistics chains is growing worldwide. As a service provider, we can offer neutral platform solutions from a non-commercial position. Digitally connecting ports worldwide will be a step-by-step process. You can start simple, for instance, by exchanging ETAs. Currently, all ports are working on their digital transformation, often independently of each other. By joining forces, sharing data and working together, we keep logistics future-proof and expand the world of possibilities.