Blockchain, traceability, food supply chain and loading configuration: these are just some of the terms mentioned during ‘The Future of Agro-Logistics’ in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, recently. Various parties and organisations came here to present their solutions and novelties for logistics in the fresh produce sector. The common denominator of all these parties? Having the transport sector do better primarily by means of data efficiency, so that companies can gain time. Emma Taapken, Alfred Botterhuis, Bob Castelein, Freek Brilleman and Tom Tillemans talked about their initiatives.
The speakers of the event: Freek Brilleman, Alfred Botterhuis, Bob Castelein, Tom Tillemans and Emma Taapken
Some parties had a lot in common. Boxinsider, Deliver and Smart Logistics, for example, focused on developing a platform for data, so that parties involved can cooperate better.
Boxinsider is an initiative for setting up a track-and-trace application that allows companies to more easily check where their containers are and when they’ll arrive at their destination. “It can save companies up to two hours in checking where their containers are,” says Emma Taapken, product leader of Boxinsider. However, the platform is dependent on the data shared by companies, and it’s therefore dependent on parties using the application. They’re currently working on setting up notifications for their app so that companies lose even less time checking their container’s arrival times.
Deliver also uses blockchain technology to give an insight into all necessary papers and data for the parties involved. To that end, company data is important to make this project efficient as well. Alfred Botterhuis of Deliver emphasises that the data remains the property of the owner in this case.
Smart Logistics also relies on the data supplied by third parties. Yet the aim of this organisation is different from that of Deliver and Boxinsider. The aim of Smart Logistics is primarily the reduction of cargo trade on roads by optimally utilising capacity. “One in three lorries on the road is empty,” says Freek Brilleman of Smart Logistics. However, data is essential to them as well, in order to set up the project as a communication tool for users. In 2018, the influence of the project became clear after a simulation. “We saw a reduction of 15% in the amount of empty kilometres driven in logistics. That doesn’t just reduce transport on the road, it also contributes to fewer emissions.”
Two projects had a different focus. Tom Tillemans, for example, explained the project New Waves. This project’s aim is to find alternatives for road transportation, such as rails and inland shipping. However, this programme is less suitable for the fresh produce sector because it takes longer than road transportation.
PhD candidate Bob Castelein, involved in the Eureka project, talked about the research into solutions for the reefer container market, which is currently experiencing a rapid increase, and how ports and parties involved can gain considerable time in this.
The focus of these projects wasn’t just on sharing data, but also on projects in the Dutch import. Emma: “It’s mostly import asking for solutions to these problems.” Bob: “Import is subject to competition from other European countries much more. We can be distinctive in this in the Netherlands.”