Europe’s Largest Shipping Port Launches a Blockchain Field Lab

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The Port of Rotterdam Authority in Netherlands has launched a field lab to explore blockchain technology.

The operator of Europe’s largest and busiest shipping port has launched a field lab to explore and develop “concrete applications and solutions” based on blockchain technology. The research lab, titled ‘BlockLab’ is a project jointly-launched with the Municipality of Rotterdam, who will also fill the role as a financier.

A decentralized operation powered with blockchain technology has already proved that multiple parties in the shipping industry – the supplier, shipper, port operators and customs, as well as terminal authorities – are able to access real-time shipping data over an interoperable blockchain.

Launching with a core team of five, the BlockLab will also see participation from the Cambridge Innovation Center, an incubator and innovation hub in Rotterdam.

An announcement from the Port of Rotterdam reads:

In the field lab, theoretical blockchain ideas are developed, tested and worked out into concrete opportunities in a real-world environment, together with consortia of developers and users. In addition, the lab will also serve as a knowledge centre for the regional private sector.

The blockchain lab will also explore other initiatives beyond the shipping industry. For instance, BlockLab will research an energy transition project wherein citizens in Rotterdam trade electricity and companies trade residual heat in the city and the port over a blockchain.

“This is important, because we need real innovations to launch the next economy,” stated Rotterdam’s deputy mayor for economic affairs Maarten Struijvenberg. “And blockchain can help us realise them.”

Rotterdam’s initiative joins a growing number of port authorities, customs agencies and shipping operators exploring blockchain technology. In South Korea, Samsung SDS – the IT and technology subsidiary of electronics giant Samsung – launched a blockchain consortium that includes the Korea Customs Service and Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in May. Earlier this month, the consortium successfully completed its first trial run involving a shipment from Korea to China where the entire process from booking the shipment to delivering the cargo was powered using blockchain technology.

Earlier this year, Maersk Line – the world’s largest ocean container shipper – partnered IBM to create a supply chain of freight forwarders, ocean carriers and port operators over an interconnected blockchain. IBM estimates that shipping carriers could save up to $38 billion per year using the decentralized technology. The project is aiming to put 10 million containers on a blockchain by the year’s end, out of the 70 million shipped annually.

Rotterdam Port image from Shutterstock.

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