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Rotterdam introduces PIN-free container handling

Port of Rotterdam (PoR) Authority has announced that various parties will be launching a pilot project on the handling and the release of containers without a PIN code, this week.

The project revolves around a new application, Secure Container Release, which replaces the PIN code with a digital signal, explains PoR, which describes the solution as significantly less susceptible to fraud, as "it is not only intended to make container handling more efficient, but also safer."

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

PoR Authority said that every year, millions of containers are unloaded in the port, from where they are forwarded to destinations in the hinterland. Collecting these containers in the port is a complicated process, according to an announcement, during which shipping companies, freight forwarders, transport firms and terminals need to work closely together to ensure the swift and safe release of this freight.

"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," commented Emile Hoogsteden, director of commerce of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

The Dutch port analyses the current process, saying that drivers who plan to collect a specific container at the terminal need to have a valid pick-up right. This authorisation is issued by a shipping company and 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, according to the port, which claims that 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 tested in this trial could replace PIN-based authorisation altogether," highlighted the port of Rotterdam.

The current pilot project will be testing how to improve the safety of the container release process throughout the chain, from the shipping company to the end-user. The application is based on blockchain technology and in terms of safety, it can be compared with banking applications – ensuring that the data involved remains exceptionally secure.

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 a blockchain-based application. The token is a kind of digital baton that smoothly passes from one party to the next. Blockchain technology prevents this authorisation from being stolen or copied along the way. This makes the release process safer for everyone in the chain who is involved in the process.

Moreover, the terminal operator can rest assured that the container has been released to the correct driver. After all, there’s only one valid token. Another advantage of this procedure, says PoR, is that it does not reveal who has previously processed the token – meaning that third parties do not have access to potentially confidential information about commercial relationships.

"Even T-Mining, the Antwerp-based start-up responsible for developing this solution, will not be able to review this information, pointed out the Port of Rotterdam.

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

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