How Antwerp Is A Model For Smart Shipping Technology


Piet Opstaele: So the Port of Antwerp, a lot
of containers are coming in, millions of containers every year. The chance is quite big
that the coffee you drink in the morning has one day
passed through the port here. Port business is not
anymore about moving stuff, as with the emerging
technologies which are coming up. It’s also how can I
optimize my supply chain? How can I do that in
a more sustainable way by using technology as an enabler? So the Port of Antwerp is the
second-largest port in Europe. It’s about 120 square kilometers. The result is that the port today is six times the size of the city. So size matters because
the ships are becoming bigger and bigger and deeper. The terminal became
bigger and more efficient. Already today on the sea-going ships, there was already a lot
of technology present, but what didn’t happen is that the overall supply
chain was optimized. Nico Wauters: The most important
processes in shipping are external processes, which require a lot of collaboration. So when a big ship arrives here and all the trucks come here to pick up their import containers, literally more than hundreds of containers have to be transferred to
truck drivers per hour. And you have, thanks to the
capabilities of blockchain, a perfect track record, as we
can see who has transferred at what particular moment. This creates kind of a
micro-ecosystem around one container. It’s important that
the goods are tracked, that they are delivered on time. Certainly in these times of e-commerce where fast delivery is crucial, we feel the pressure from customers that we have a very predictable delivery. So to keep an eye on that,
we built our digital twin, where we connected different sensors. We connected to the 500
cameras in the port. We connected our pipeline information. We brought together 12 different databases with financial information, GIS information, depth information. So bringing more sensors, bringing in artificial intelligence, bringing in machine vision. Wim Wouters: So in a digital twin for the port, it’s most important to
have all the information of the waterways available. Then, of course, the companies
that are using our port and the ships that are
transporting the cargo across the port. If we select the ship, we
can see the last three hours of where that ship has been. This gives a really nice
view of the depth situation and it shows the ships
in relation to the depth. By combining all these different
data sources in one view, we have a super situational
awareness of the whole port. I think we’re ahead of many ports and I think we’re ahead
of many cities as well. John Baekelmans: One of
the main drivers of success for the city of Antwerp is a collaboration between working we’re doing
in the city and the port. Because we know if we have a dumb city, we’re never gonna have a smart port. Just like the port has a digital twin for all their port operations and logistical capabilities
they are running in the port, we’ve created a digital twin for everything happening in the city. And we’re using between
1,000 and 5,000 sensors and this type of digital twin can actually help us make better decisions within the confines of, for example, mobility, air quality,
noise pollution, and so on. I think we are since about 10 years in a period of exponential
growth of new technologies. By using drones, for instance,
we can do fast interventions. By using machine vision, we
can automate the inspection of our maritime infrastructure. I think smart is, of course, it doesn’t mean that all the things which were done in the
past were kind of dumb, but I think smart means that
more technology is coming. Shipping is a very old technology. Shipping was, and I stress the word was, certainly very conservative. A new generation of people who come now, people who have been
raised with IT technologies and they understand this
is an opportunity for them. I always say the port business is kind of untapped potential. I think we are just on the start of that, of bringing new technology
into the business and there’s a huge potential.

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