Port of Rotterdam partners with Samsung DSD and ABM AMRO for blockchain project
The port has partnered with Samsung DSD and th...
The Port of Rotterdam has entered a new project which aims to digitise the establishment’s operations.
The port has partnered with Samsung DSD and the Dutch bank ABM AMRO to test the use of blockchain within logistics.
“The ultimate goal is for a complete, paperless integration of physical, administrative and financial streams within international distribution chains,” the Port of Rotterdam stated in a press release.
The project aims to see blockchain technology connect container logistics and payments, digitally transforming the system to become more transparent and efficient.
“Currently payments, administration and the physical transportation of containers still take place entirely via separate circuits,” commented Paul Smits, Chief Financial Officer at the Port of Rotterdam.
“This results in inefficiency as many parties are involved and everything is organised via paper documentation.”
“For instance, an average 28 parties are involved in container transport from China to Rotterdam. The transportation, monitoring and financing of freight and services should be just as easy as ordering a book online.”
The blockchain pilot will be introduced to operations in January 2019 and will initially track a container from Asia to the Netherlands.
“We will be using blockchain technology to create this,” added Sanghun Lee, President of Samsung SDS EU/CIS.
“Blockchain offers all parties in the logistics chain the opportunity to coordinate activities using validated data and without central management.”
“Digitisation provides automation, which creates an ultra-efficient logistics chain. What is particularly special about the project is that, for the first time in the rather short history of this technology, we can have different blockchains operating together.”
“This takes place via an overarching ‘notary’ that connects entirely separate blockchains in Korea and the Netherlands.”
Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry
Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.
Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off?
How Will Japan Pay For It?
Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving.
According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option.
What Do They Plan To Do?
Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’.
As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’.
Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.