Zeebrugge Rolls Out Tools to Process UK Cargo Digitally after Brexit

Preparing for Brexit, Belgium’s Port of Zeebrugge has introduced two new digital tools to allow a fluent flow of cargo to and from the UK.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

This is in spite of extra customs administrations which will be implemented after the Brexit deadline.

As informed, the development of the RX/SeaPort data sharing platform is an initiative of the Zeebrugge port authority and the Association of Port of Zeebrugge interests (APZI). The platform offers a digital connection between all links in the logistical chain.

“After March 29, the platform ensures a minimization of the Brexit impact, by improving the operational efficiency and creating more transparency in the logistical chain,” Wim Fossaert, Commercial Director of RX/SeaPort, commented.

“RX/SeaPort guarantees a chainwide solution for cargo shipped from and to the UK quickly and efficiently. Ferry and shortsea traffic will experience new customs regulations after Brexit. If these are handled digitally and efficiently, we will avoid problems,” Joachim Coens, Managing Director of MBZ, said.

Every week, more than 70 regular shipping services connect Zeebrugge to UK regions.

The first tool, WIZARD, focuses on the impact of Brexit on the logistical process, namely the transportation of goods to and from the UK through the Belgian port. Each phase of the import and export flow is illustrated: booking & pre-announcement, customs declaration, guidelines and procedures for departure and arrival at the terminal.

In addition, RX/SeaPort has developed a digital system, E-Desk Ferry, which focuses particularly on ferry transportations. Through the system, export users notify the terminal operator of the arrival of their cargo. This notification contains the type of document, customs office, MRN number, unit number, terminal and booking reference. This data is continuously available for the terminal operator, which creates digital transparency and prevents waiting periods at the terminals, as explained by the port authority.

In the case of import, users will notify the terminal operator about the cargo’s customs status with corresponding customs document numbers. Based on this information, the cargo can be released for transport.

Shortsea traffic can make use of the existing systems E-Desk Container and E-Desk Roro.

“After months of preparation with all the stakeholders, we are very happy to present the first tools of RX/SeaPort to process the UK cargo digitally after Brexit. This is an optimization of the logistical chain in Zeebrugge and will result in a seamless flow of traffic and cargo,” according to Marc Adriansens, Chairman of APZI.

In 2018, the Port of Zeebrugge handled over 40 million tons of goods, a rise of 8 percent when compared to 2017. The increase was mostly due to the growth of roll-on/roll-off and liquid natural gas volumes.