Port of Antwerp launches NxtPort data platform
The brand-new data platform will gather information from different segments of the port’s logistics chain. The initiators are calling it a world first. Thanks to new technologies, it is possible to process data on a large scale – big data – and make it available to the players who require it in the field. A lot of time and energy is still being wasted because port industries do not share each other’s data and work on different digital platforms. And many are still relying heavily on paper documents.
For example, when a ship docks with several thousand containers on board, the stevedore in charge of unloading them does not know how they will be forwarded: by truck, by rail or by barge. If he did, he would place farther on his terminal the containers departing by train at a later time than a container having to leave on a truck within twelve hours. At the moment, he may have to reposition containers sometimes up to four times, depending on who picks them up and when. Because of that, containers arrive at their destination not as fast as they should. All parties are impacted financially.
Thanks to NxtPort, the Port of Antwerp is a magnet for technology development at the interface between industry, logistics and transport.
Stephan Vanfraechem, General Manager of Alfaport - Voka
Thousands of hours are lost every year waiting at the locks because of the substandard information exchange between the river pilots who guide the ships via the Scheldt to Antwerp and the dock pilots bringing the ships inside the docks. At the terminals, truckers sometimes experience serious delays because of a breakdown in the information flow.
The idea behind the initiative is to eventually get customs, warehouses, railway operators and inland navigation to input their logistics data in the super database. It is an open system. This also allows external companies to develop mobile applications for NxtPort. The investment costs are around 5 million euros.
NxtPort will be available to all parties in the logistics chain, shipping lines, freight forwarders, terminals, shippers, warehouses, customs, etc. They can voluntarily supply data and develop new applications themselves and later use the commercialised solutions.