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Located in the Netherlands; the city of Rotterdam is home to the largest seaport in all of Europe – the Port of Rotterdam. Though it may not have the most original name, the Port of Rotterdam was the world’s busiest port from 1962 to 2004 and remains quite the hot spot. Its physical location covers approximately 41 square miles (or 105 square kilometers).
As one might imagine, keeping track of anything in a port this busy – covering an area so large – is no easy task. This is one of the reasons the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Municipality of Rotterdam have developed a keen interest in technology.
BlockLab – A Blockchain Field Lab
In fact, this past September, the previously mentioned governing bodies launched their own blockchain field lab, known as ‘BlockLab.’ BlockLab is focused on the development of applications and solutions using blockchain technology.
One of the men responsible for opening this new lab is Rotterdam’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Affairs Maarten Struijvenberg. Struijvenberg had the following to say about this exciting new project:
“There’s this huge buzz about ‘blockchain,’ but actually, there aren’t that many fully functional applications. We’ll be changing this with BlockLab. This is important because we need real innovations to launch the next economy. And blockchain can help us realize them.”
Energy transition, cargo flow, and port logistic stock financing are few areas the lab hopes to improve on through the use of this transformative new technology.
Knowledge Center For The Private Sector
The BlockLab features 5 members who are headquartered at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Rotterdam. Besides housing the development of new blockchain-based ideas, the location will also be used as a knowledge center for the regional private sector.
It was recently announced that the team would be spearheading a project that aims at using blockchain tech to improve container logistics.
Believe it or not, transporting large containers to and from the Port of Rotterdam can involve as many as 28 parties – which can create quite the paper trail.
According to the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s CFO, Paul Smits,
“Currently payments, administration and the physical transportation of containers still take place entirely via separate circuits. This results in inefficiency as many parties are involved and everything is organized via paper documentation.”
Besides being inefficient, the current process is also quite costly – resulting in millions of wasted euros annually.
From Paper to Digital Records
The BlockLab will try to address these issues by, as the Port Authority puts it, creating “a complete, paperless integration of physical, administrative and financial streams within international distribution chains.” To achieve this feat, they will develop a blockchain-based system that links both container logistics and payments. The end goal is to switch from paper to digital records.
The testing for this new system, which will include partners Samsung SDS and Dutch bank ABN AMRO, is scheduled to being in January of 2018.
As part of the early testing phase, the pilot will track a container through multiple freight modes from Asia to the Netherlands. If everything goes according to schedule, the results from the test run should be released in February of 2019.