8.03.2022 - Log!Ville partner event on digitalisation

14/03/2022 — minutes reading time
About Log!Ville
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The coronavirus barometer has switched to code yellow, which is good news for Log!Ville! We can finally welcome back visitors and organise events again. Our first partner event in a long time was held on 8 March, after much delay, with Minister-President Jan Jambon in attendance. The keynote speakers were Piet Opstaele, Innovation Enablement Manager of the Port of Antwerp, and Thierry Geerts, CEO of Google BeLux.

“We want to make Log!Ville an open platform where partners can come together to share knowledge and exchange ideas,” says Managing Director Patrick Aertsen. “That’s why we plan to organise several partner events a year, where companies big and small can meet. Four ‘co-creation’ events are also scheduled, alongside targeted visits, each with a different theme. This cross-fertilisation is an essential aspect of our demonstration and innovation centre.”

Innovation as the driving force behind the transition

Log!Ville is also a place where new insights around innovation in logistics are exchanged. That was very noticeable during the partner event.

“The Port of Antwerp plays in the Champions League,” says Joris Opstael. “To maintain and expand that position a vision of the future is required. In that context innovation is a driving force, with a firm emphasis on sustainable growth, a targeted energy transition and resilience. Incidentally, the energy transition was one of the major drivers of the merger with Zeebrugge. Green hydrogen, for example, is a feedstock that could enable the transition of the chemical cluster. That’s why we see innovation as a means of achieving our sustainability objectives.”

The Port of Antwerp is creating an ecosystem centred around digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). He explains that it incorporates initiatives such as Seafar (unmanned vessels), Seadrone (underwater measurements), i-Nose (detection of illegal degassing), drones for detecting floating debris and for enforcement, and APICA (assistant technology).

“Reinventing everything”

“With AI, digitalisation has gained momentum,” says Thierry Geerts, who is also the author of the book ‘Homo Digitalis’. “Everything can be connected to voice and perception sensors. The ‘digital twin’ concept means logistics machines can be made more efficient, because it will be easier to perform complex simulations and predictions. Digitalisation is the biggest change we’ve ever seen, and knowledge is the key ingredient. Once oil is burned, it’s gone. Knowledge, on the other hand, remains.”

He believes AI is causing a revolution in innovation and leading to ‘Augmented Humanity’. “We have to reinvent everything – including logistics. AI and automation make that possible. But I have to say that we’re digitalising too slowly. There’s been too much timidity – look at how slow we’ve been to embrace cloud working, for example, even though it’s cheaper and more secure – and I’ve noticed that that attitude is more prevalent among companies than among consumers. That’s why Log!Ville is a fantastic initiative for bringing about change in this area.”

New role for the government

In the Flemish government, Minister-President Jan Jambon is also responsible for Digitalisation. He believes digitalisation is the key to making Flanders more prosperous and more agile, and he wants the region to play a leading role in this area. But like Thierry Geerts, he thinks the potential of data causes mistrust. “This paradox is slowing down development.”

Consequently, he believes the government has a new role to play, namely creating new ecosystems by connecting data. “That’s why Flanders is creating the first data utility company in the world.”

By 2035, he wants the government to have fully embraced that new role, no longer regulating but facilitating, correcting and connecting. “We call that ‘distributed’ government, where the government acts as a platform."

A special thanks to Piet Opstaele (Innovation enablement manager - Port of Antwerp) & Thierry Geerts ( CEO Google BeLux) for the inspiring logistics insights. Also many thanks to our Minister president Jan Jambon for sharing your vision with our partners.
And last but not least: thanks to all our partners for inspiring the logistics sector & to make this all happen. #togetherforstronggrowth#