On August 22, 2017, Antwerp-based blockchain startup T-Mining and data utility platform NxtPort have announced a partnership in an effort to bring safety and greater efficiency to seaports through the use of blockchain technology.
In the initial phase, the companies will focus on the secured release of millions of containers that enter Flemish ports. According to the announcement, developers will have access to T-Mining’s blockchain technology through NxtPort’s data platform.
T-Mining CEO Nico Wauters described to ETHNews how the company tracks containers:
"By creating a ‘digital twin’ of the container using an independent platform, we facilitate the secure transfer of assets and data in the logistics and transport community. By doing so, we
- increase the overall efficiency of the logistic process thanks to improved collaboration;
- lower administrative costs thanks to reduced manual interventions;
- increase security and reduce risk thanks to blockchain technology;
- create new revenue opportunities enabled by new services using Smart Contracts."
T-Mining developed an app called "Secure Container Release" that solves a problem specific to the port in Antwerp. T-Mining wants to modify the executable distributed code contract (EDCC) platform running the background of the “Secure Container Release” application to fit new use cases.
In discussing the use of blockchain technology to track the movement of containers, Wauters said, "No single party controls the data as every change needs to be validated by a consensus algorithm before being processed." The immutable chain that keeps track of these transactions creates a verifiable data trail, ensuring maximum transparency. EDCCs govern the data processing—bringing together a transaction-encompassing multi-party consensus alongside business logic.
Wauters further stated:
"Blockchain in general can play an important role in logistics as there are many parties involved, and they all need to agree on and be aware of the current status of the transport. Today, most parties have their own systems, and they heavily depend on information exchanged among each other for doing their part of the job. Today, this exchange is not automated and often based on old technology like EDI messaging.
With blockchain, they can get a trusted source of information that reflects the latest status, which is controlled by smart contracts, such that there is no need for a kind of middleman."
Wauters explained the platform's accessibility. "Our Smart Contract platform is accessible both through in-house developed apps and portals and can also be integrated with existing customers’ legacy systems. In addition, 3rd party developers can reuse our blockchain enabled backend to complement our solution and offer additional services to the ecosystem." In order to do this, T-Mining used the Ethereum Virtual Machine and Solidity language to develop EDCCs, and built a permissioned blockchain specific to the needs of the logistics community.
According to Wauters, “target-customers doing nothing” is the biggest barrier to the commercial adoption of T-Mining. He adds, "we received quite some feedback from executives and industry experts on the need for change & digitization within the transport & logistics industry. [McKinsey & Company] published a report in the [Harvard Business Review] (2016) benchmarking the digitization rate in various industries and confirmed this conclusion. In addition, most target-customers see the disruptive potential from digital native companies like Amazon & Alibaba for the transport & logistics sector. But it goes without saying that the transport & logistics sector is a traditional sector and slow to adopt new technologies."
Both companies will reveal the initial results of their partnership on October 11, 2017, at Fosbury & Sons, during a community event dubbed "NxtPort - The Next Level." Anyone interested or desiring to register for the event may do so at the NxtPort website.