November 2007 | Commentary | IT Matters

Technology Collaboration Enables Visibility and Security

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Complete Document and Shipment Visibility (CDSV) is a concept that enables trading partners to have 100-percent visibility to the condition, status, and location of international shipments in a paperless environment.

The concept allows shipment stakeholders to know the exact status of inventory and finished goods in the pipeline. CDSV also contributes to eliminating supply chain inefficiencies and security risks inherent in current cross-border transactions.

CDSV is made possible by combining the power of an intelligent gateway to handle shipment documentation with a secure trade lane capable of sensing and alerting supply chain partners regarding events related to a shipment.

Data Feed

The process begins with data. An Intelligent Document Gateway (IDG) automatically analyzes documents and extracts their data. It then integrates that data with external systems while simultaneously improving document processes to achieve cost and labor savings for each transaction.

An IDG eliminates latency by extracting, notifying, and routing real-time data and business rules to back-end databases.

The process is characterized by a centralized content manager, "Document Work Basket", which provides partners with the ability to both see the documents and add new documents to the repository when needed.

Coordinating Data with Documents

An IDG, housed at a centralized location, provides document meta data extraction, classification, and conversion. Documents are added to the work basket directly from a host system or workstation, scanned using a multi-function device/printer, fax, or e-mail.

This transformed process enhances a company's ability to coordinate the movement of transactional data in logistics and import systems with the physical documents that must accompany the goods by providing process visibility to all partners.

CDSV also adds increased security to global shipments. A Secure Trade Lane (STL) solution has two primary functions. The first is to track a sea, land, or air shipment and ensure that once the shipment is secured an unauthorized party cannot open it. The second is to transform outdated business processes.

Here's how it works. A Tamper- Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC), a device about the size of a shoebox, is placed on or in the shipping container. The device can be outfitted with almost any type of sensor including motion, temperature, light, radioactivity, or carbon dioxide.

Thanks to an integrated GPS transceiver, supply chain partners can pinpoint the location of goods in transit. The TREC's built-in satellite modem communicates to a home base according to pre-specified business rules or events that trigger an alarm condition.

Ensuring Security

Due to increased concern regarding international shipment security, the STL's second function is a game-changing play for the logistics industry. Once a shipment departs a manufacturing facility it changes hands many times so it is difficult to ensure security through its journey.

A TREC device guarantees that a shipment is not tampered with and that its contents are equal to what they were when the shipment departed the manufacturing plant. This knowledge eliminates the need for physical inspections at ports and reduces the false alarms so prevalent in the industry today.

Thanks to the TREC and the backend systems used to support it, retailers relying on a large network of warehouses to temporarily store goods can take full advantage of the visibility the STL system provides.

Retailers may use this visibility to treat their pipeline inventory as virtual warehouses because they can pinpoint the exact location and condition of their goods.

Why Do We Need CDSV?

CDSV combines the document visibility provided via an IDG with the power of an STL solution to create visibility to physical goods. These two technologies enhance supply chain visibility and security as a result of technology collaboration.

Together the technologies represent a powerful, proactive tool that can change the way the world runs its trade operations for years to come.

By providing visibility to the documentation and physical status/location of goods, CDSV helps supply chain stakeholders achieve the following benefits:

  • Eliminate plans to X-ray all containers and shipments coming into a country.
  • Provide complete visibility to physical goods.
  • Make it possible to realize a true "virtual warehouse."
  • Offer real-time monitoring of freight.
  • Provide secure cargo transport.
  • Allow supply chain partners to notify customers ahead of time that a shipment delivery will be delayed or missed.
  • Eliminate the need to print paper copies of the documentation associated with the shipment.
  • Create visibility for all entries into the importing country.
  • Reduce the number of days required to solve import exception issues.

Plans to pilot CDSV are underway with trading partners and a customs agency. Involving a customs agency and a trading partner in the pilot enables institutions to prove efficiency gains from a supply chain perspective with the trading partner and from a security perspective with customs officials.

Thanks to technology collaboration CDSV is a proactive, realistic approach to enhancing supply chain visibility and security.

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