INTEGRITY: SICIS reaches 5000 container goal

In May 2011 the SICIS system achieved the goal to track 5,000 containers on their way from China to Europe. This tremendous success reflects the marvelous cooperation within the INTEGRITY Consortium, consisting of logistics providers, cargo owners, terminal operators, Customs authorities, software developers, and academic partners. SICIS (Shared Intermodal Container Information System) was developed within the INTEGRITY project, co-funded by the European Commission in its 7th Framework Programme and coordinated by the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL), Bremen/Bremerhaven, Germany. No other research project has handled such a large number of containers, underlining the potential of this innovative system.

The aim of SICIS is to improve the visibility, reliability, and security of international intermodal door-to-door supply chains. This is achieved by collecting all relevant information from several sources such as the factory or consolidation centre where the container is stuffed, the operating systems of participating container terminals, tracking the vessel by its AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder, and, as an option, CSDs (Container Security Devices) attached to the container. SICIS consolidates this information and grants access for relevant stakeholders based on a sophisticated system of access rights and under strict control of the owner of the respective trade lane. Robin Smith, representative of UK-based logistics provider BAP Logistics, a partner in the project, underlines that SICIS is a unique tool for the proactive monitoring of container supply chains and for the first time allows a complete overview of a container's transport.

The best level of monitoring is reached if the containers are equipped with CSDs, which acquire the container's position using GPS and transmit this information to SICIS via cellphone radio. In addition, the CSDs detect the container's security status and raise an alarm if a container is opened without permission.

During the ongoing SICIS demonstration, CSDs from the China-based supplier CIMC have been used. The sealeg of the voyage is covered by tracking the position of the vessel using information from its AIS transponder, which is read by satellite-based or terrestrial receivers. As a consequence, the container's position is known at any time during its voyage with an accuracy of a few meters. It is not expected that all containers worldwide will be equipped with CSDs in the near future, so SICIS does not completely rely on their use. Even without a CSD, the information from the other data sources is sufficient to considerably improve the supply chain transparency. SICIS not only improves the logistics processes but also achieves a win-win situation both for industry and Customs authorities.

The latter require reliable information about the containers' contents in order to perform risk assessment in the best possible way. Very often, Customs receive 'agent to agent' transactions only. These contain no information about the buyer or seller, which is insufficient to allow them to perform detailed assessments. SICIS now provides the opportunity to access consignor and consignee data, which is considerably more reliable. The SICIS demonstration phase which has been underway since September 2009 clearly demonstrates these benefits both for the logistics world and authorities in real life situations.

Quelle: Institut für Seeverkehrswirtschaft und Logistik (ISL)