Antwerp to Use Digitization to Enhance Secure Release of Containers

Port of Antwerp using digital technology to enhance and secure release of containers
Containers in the Port of Antwerp (file photo)

Published Sep 24, 2020 3:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Antwerp is becoming the latest port to expand its digitalization efforts to enhance the flow of containers through its terminals. According to the port authority, the new certified pickup program will simplify administrative processes, allow employees to work more securely, and reduces the turnaround time of import containers while also permitting customs and the police to operate more efficiently and effectively.

One of the results of the pandemic and ports efforts to maintain smooth operations during this period has been an increased focus on the benefits of digitization. Ports have found that they can maintain and even improve the flow of goods while also reducing their dependence on paper and interaction through the deployment of digital technologies.

Under the Port of Antwerp’s new program, a digital, secure, and integrated solution will replace the current system of PIN codes for the release of containers. Stating on January 1, 2021, all of the stakeholders involved in the container import process will link to the Certified Pick Up platform, CPu. The platform receives and processes container information and when the final carrier is determined it generates an encrypted digital key, which the carrier uses to pick up the container. 

According to the port authority, the new system has several advantages over the current system which used a unique PIN code. The PIN codes required more time and because it was seen by various parties had a greater risk of abuse. The time between the creation of the digital key and the collection of the container is minimal, according to Antwerp and it is possible to trace which parties were involved in the collection of the container. Future technology, such as identity-based security process with fingerprints or eye scans, might eventually eliminate the digital key.

Port Alderman Annick De Ridder highlighted the additional security benefits beyond the operational improvements for the logistic chain. For example, it was noted that the security features will make it more difficult for criminals to access containers while they are in the terminal.

Commenting on the program, one of the operators in the port, Bernard Moyson, Chairman of Alfaport-Voka said “We are pleased that this project focuses on a faster, safer, and more efficient release of containers. A collective approach is the only way forward to meet the security challenges. The fact that we have reached a constructive compromise on this initiative proves once again the strength and resilience of the port community in Antwerp.”

The port expects to work with all the participants involved in the logistics chain, including shipping companies, shipping agents, terminals, shippers, freight forwarders, logistics operators, truck companies, and inland navigation and rail operators to ensure the smooth operation of the new system. They will work together to further shape the CPu system and implement it in phases. 

In July, the Port of Rotterdam began a three-month trial program using similar technology. Rotterdam’s pilot project also focused on replacing PIN codes in the handling and release of containers from the port. Similarly, Rotterdam highlighted that the use of a digital signal would improve efficiency in the port, speed release time, and was significantly less susceptible to fraud.

Globally, ports are recognizing the advantages of digitalization and working to leverage and expand the use of technology to enhance operations. The systems being introduced in Antwerp and Rotterdam are the latest example of how logistics and the flow of containers can be enhanced through digital technology.