Heading towards transparency: creating supply chain visibility to improve container transport



Dr. Nils Meyer-Larsen, Project Manager, Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics, Bremerhaven, Germany


Nowadays, container transport is facing several challenges. To mention only a few, these include the strong growth in container transport volume, bottlenecks in hinterland connections, complex logistics chains consisting of many actors, information gaps, as well as new security regulations. These exercises have to be managed both by industry and administration. The main factors in today’s international intermodal container transport, logistics and security, are aiming at different objectives and sometimes lead to contradictory strategies.

In order to support container transport, the projects CHINOS (Container Handling in Intermodal Nodes – Optimal and Secure) and INTEGRITY (Intermodal Global Door-To-Door Container Supply Chain Visibility), both funded by the European Commission, are currently investigating how innovative technologies can increase the efficiency and security of transport processes. Within the projects, methodologies and IT systems are developed serving both issues, satisfying industry and authorities at the same time by creating Supply Chain Visibility. Enhanced security measures together with shared data on vehicles, cargo and inspection results shall lead to trade facilitation and pre-arrival clearance from Customs in the importing country; the whole transport chain performance shall become more reliable and predictable. Both projects are coordinated by the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) located in Bremen and Bremerhaven, Germany. The consortia consisting of Customs Authorities, 3PLs, cargo owners, port operators, R&D institutions, and system developers guarantee a high potential for successful solutions.

Improve processes and security using RFID
The CHINOS project will use innovative IT technology like RFID (radio frequency identification) and automatic damage documentation in order to support transport and terminal operators. The implemented solutions can on the one hand optimise logistics processes e.g. by automatic identification of containers using container RFID tags, and on the other hand, can raise the security level of the transport process using RFID eseals. Due to the fact that container transport is a global business, of course it is useless to perform tests with isolated applications. The employed technology must in fact be based on the existing global standardisation efforts. As an example, we expect the container tag to be specified as a passive UHF transponder working in a frequency band from 860 – 960 MHz. The global background is established by the standard ISO 10374, which will shortly be updated and replaced by the new standard ISO 10891.

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