Antwerp Port Authority and FPIM (Federal Participation & Investment Company) are to jointly acquire a stake in NxtPort, the digital data platform for the port community. The contribution by the new partners (Port Authority 75%, FPIM 25%) takes the form of capital plus a subordinated loan, together totalling 5.25 million euros.
“With our participation we seek to contribute towards the further development of NxtPort as an innovative data platform that will be a driver of logistical, maritime and industrial innovation in our port, as well as offering gains in efficiency,” declared Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren. “Big data is the fuel of the future economy, it is an engine of growth and change. So we have to back it in a big way,” he concluded.
Digitisation for smart logistics
Data is a crucial factor in the development of smart logistics processes. Those who have the right data at the right time can use this knowledge to make their processes more efficient. In the context of a port there are thousands of processes that run concurrently: goods must be transferred swiftly from barge to quay, from quay to truck, or from ship to another seagoing ship. All the players in these processes have relevant data but for too long this data has been inadequately shared, resulting in delays and other inefficiencies.
“With NxtPort we aim to make this data transparent for all players in the supply chain,” explains Daniel Lievens, CEO of NxtPort. “In this way we along with the other port players can develop the port of the future, where digitisation opens the way to smart, cost-efficient logistics. Last month we already introduced the first services with NxtPort, but we’re already looking beyond that. We’re currently working on various practical applications for improving the Customs processes. In addition we’re looking at how we along with the forwarders, ship’s agents and shippers can make more effective use of the available capacity on the terminals, by giving the various players a better view of the route that the goods will follow on their way to the hinterland. In the meantime, improved handling of container barges is also on the list of projects in the short term.”
Today’s onboarding of two public partners represents a strategic expansion of the platform for NxtPort, which was set up to improve the digital processing of the supply chains. “It’s a very obvious move to set up such a platform in a port environment, where so many logistics chains come together,” explains Karel Plasman, chairman of NxtPort. “But elsewhere in Belgium there are many more logistics processes that can be digitally improved and made more efficient, and we aim to play a role in these too. For instance, based on the concept of the port of the future we are also working on a digital platform for the smart logistics future of Flanders and Belgium.”
Benefits for the whole port community
NxtPort is a crucial partner for the Port Authority in further developing the port into a paradigm of data-driven innovation. Thanks to the financial contribution, which will give it a seat on the board of directors, the Port Authority will among other things have a say in the development of digital applications for the general interest. “As a Port Authority we already have open, public data that can serve as input for the platform, so as to facilitate a smooth flow of the data. This should enable us to build a powerful digital ecosystem that will benefit the entire port community,” Jacques Vandermeiren explained further. “Efficient logistics processes will also lead to more efficient use being made of the limited amount of space in the port. The demand for smooth handling and the constantly increasing freight volumes can only be satisfied through a combination of having enough space available and offering efficient logistics processes. So naturally we are tackling both of these aspects together,” he concluded.
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