Several industry majors led by the Port of Rotterdam are rolling out a new pilot blockchain project, in which containers are handled and released without a PIN code: a widely used verification method in this transport segment.

The port authority said that the project would involve the use of a new application, Secure Container Release, which replaces the PIN code with a digital signal. As explained, the solution is believed to be significantly less susceptible to fraud and is aimed at boosting the efficiency and safety of container handling.

Participants in the three-month trial include CMA-CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC, ONE-Line, Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam, Rotterdam Fruit Wharf, Milestone Fresh, VTO, Portmade and the application developer T-Mining.

The Antwerp-based start-up T-Mining was selected for participation in the PortXL accelerator programme earlier this year, and is working together with companies in Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority on the practical execution of this pilot project.

“By taking advantage of new technologies, we can make our port operations smarter, swifter, more efficient and safer. The current pilot project is a good example. During this project, the different participants will be using a blockchain application that enables them to safely and efficiently organise the release procedure followed by the various parties in the chain,” said Emile Hoogsteden, Director of Commerce of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Drivers about to collect a specific container at the terminal need to have a valid pick-up right, which is granted by a shipping company.

The freight forwarder subsequently orders a transport firm to retrieve the container at the terminal. In the existing arrangement, the pick-up right is confirmed to the terminal by means of a PIN code.

“This procedure requires a range of manual actions from a number of different parties. Any hitches or errors in the release process can lead to a waste of time, complaints and aggravation among clients and partners, as well as possible opportunities for fraud.

“The application that will be tested in this trial could replace PIN-based authorisation altogether,” the port authority said.

During the pilot project, the pick-up rights for the import of containers will be converted from a PIN code into a digital token with the aid of the blockchain-based application. 

Blockchain technology prevents this authorisation from being stolen or copied along the way, and prevents third parties from accessing confidential information, the port said.

As explained, even T-Mining, the app developer won’t be able to review this information.

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