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Collaborative Information Services for Container Management

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Innovation in ship container management

Supply chain management for container traffic is being made easier. An EU initiative collected comprehensive information for container flows through smart linking of different information sources.

Industrial Technologies

With 90 % of the world's trade being conducted via container ships, container owners must be able to track their containers en route. Data faults could disrupt this, so an integrated logistics data system, drawing from the entire supply chain, would fill data holes and ensure smooth tracking. The EU-funded 'Collaborative information services for container management' (COMCIS) project aimed to supply business tools that eliminate uncertainties in cargo logistics data. The project developed three business cases whereby the service must be commercially viable and operational enough for full evaluation. It also described the respective supply chain processes and how they would be supported by COMCIS services. COMCIS developed a common framework for information exchange. This was also assessed in terms of whether COMCIS services required updating. Furthermore, the project formulated customs requirements, which were translated into clear process solutions that COMCIS demonstrated. Project members also developed a three-layer architecture that supports communications between businesses, and between businesses and administrations. This combines and standardises data from multiple sources, making it easier to access data from the whole supply chain. The data are combined to create clear and timely information, delivered to the right person, to support operational decisions. COMCIS demonstrated three exploitation scenarios covering a broad range of shipping situations. The architecture was defined on existing cargo flows and logistics chains from a private shipping company, a container terminal operator and a global freight forwarder at sea ports in the United Kingdom and the European hinterland. Results from the operator case study showed improved accuracy and efficiency, a reduction in terminal wait times and increased efficiency of hinterland transportation. For the forwarder, a global data environment was created that reinforced situational awareness of containerised ocean freight, enhanced operational control and improved common service levels. By designing the next generation of solutions, COMCIS outcomes will provide reliable and complete logistics information to shippers, cargo owners, logistics service providers and customs authorities.


Ship container, container management, supply chain, logistics, information services

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