Container release to be digitalised at Port of Antwerp

Container release to be digitalised at Port of Antwerp
The port is looking to crack down on drug smuggling

Certified Pick up (CPu), a digital solution for the release of containers, will start from January 2021 at the Port of Antwerp, replacing the current system of PIN codes, as the port tries to rid itself of drug trafficking.

It is hoped that the new way of working will guarantee a secure, transparent and optimised release process for incoming containers, which will then leave the port by rail, barge or truck.

To pick up a container at a terminal in the port, a unique PIN code is needed nowadays.  The time between providing the PIN code to the shipping company and the driver entering this code at the terminal is considerable. Moreover, the PIN code is seen by various parties which increases the risk of abuse.

Two years ago, the port authority called for collective action in response to the city mayor’s claim that cocaine travelling through the port will corrupt politics.

Port Alderman Annick De Ridder said: “As a port, we take our social responsibility with this initiative. With the digital code system, we are making it much more difficult for the drug mafia to gain access to the containers at the terminals.”

To make this process more secure and efficient, a new process for the release of containers, referred to as “Certified Pick up” (CPu), comes into force on January 1, 2021.

CPu is a neutral, central data platform which connects all stakeholders involved in the container import process.

The CPu platform receives and processes container information to generate an encrypted digital key, with which the eventual carrier can pick up the container.

This digital key is only created when the final carrier is known, hence minimising the time between the creation of the digital key and the collection of the container.

It will also be possible to trace which parties were involved in the collection of the container, allowing authorities such as customs and police to access the data exchanged and generated in CPu within the boundaries of their legal powers.

In the longer term, the platform should allow the digital key to be completely eliminated. An identity-based security process with fingerprints or eye scans might be developed.

There are further operational benefits including the simplification of administrative processes, allowing employees to work more securely while reducing the turnaround time for import containers at the port.

Customs and the police will also be able to operate more efficiently and effectively thanks to CPu.

Bernard Moyson, chairman of Alfaport-Voka: “We are pleased that this project focuses on a faster, safer and more efficient release of containers. A collective approach is the only way forward to meet the security challenges.”