IBM and Maersk Logistics Provide Real-Time Cargo Monitoring for Global Supply Chain Optimization

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IBM and Maersk Logistics, of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, today announced a new initiative to bring real-time, enhanced visibility to global supply chain operations by improving the quality of container tracking and enabling increased security of transported goods. The solution includes highly intelligent wireless tracking devices and an advanced technology network for use by manufacturers, retailers, logistics providers, carriers, and governments to share real-time cargo information.

During joint development IBM and Maersk Logistics brought together research, business consulting and engineering teams, along with technology experts and internal specialists in the field of customs, ports and border management, supply chain management and transportation. The solution incorporates IBM's industry-leading hardware and software technologies alongside Maersk Logistics global supply chain expertise. The organizations have integrated two key emerging technologies for the first time:

Intelligent real-time tracking devices, called TREC (Tamper-Resistant Embedded Controllers), which are fitted to cargo containers and designed to withstand the environment they operate in. Unlike typical passive tags that collect data only, the wireless TREC devices incorporate significant processing power, enabling them to instantly receive and send data. The devices automatically collect information on each container, including physical location, based on GPS, parameters such as temperature and humidity and sensory readings to detect intrusion.

A fully integrated network that combines data from the TREC devices with a non-proprietary sensor network and business integration system. This network eliminates manual processes, and enables accredited supply chain participants access to relevant data. The information gathered can be connected to decentralized databases where each participant owns their own content, and a service oriented infrastructure allows users to instantly share information.

This leading edge solution will provide global supply chain stakeholders with on-demand access to real-time transport-related data. The solution supports the implementation of the new World Customs Organization's (WCO) Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade.

IBMs objective is to enable globally integrated business by capitalizing on the information generated during the tracking process and at the same time improve the security of cargo, said Mogens Roedbro, Partner and Vice President, IBM Business Consulting Services. This initiative, which IBM refers to as Intelligent Trade Lane, is part of our broader Global Movement Management effort designed to address the critical business functions involved in efficiently and securely moving people, goods and conveyances within and between countries.

"Security and supply chain optimization are key focus areas for our clients today," said Henrik Ramskov, Managing Director, Maersk Logistics. "The capabilities of the TREC device and network eliminate the time lag of the physical container status to provide real-time visibility. This provides new opportunities for truly adaptive planning while also maintaining data quality. This enables effective decision making, supporting Supply Chain agility. Combined with Spective we will further enhance our clients' customer service levels while reducing the costs of achieving these."

"Some of today's shipping logistics involves enormous levels of complexity, dated processes including lengthy paper trails, and limited levels of security," said James Rice, Director, Integrated Supply Chain Management Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The ability to create an environment where all supply chain participants have real-time visibility while also leveraging industry standards will eliminate some of this complexity. The IBM and Maersk initiative offers a promising approach for a more truly resilient and secure transborder supply chain."

To ensure the solution is ready for commercial application next year, IBM and Maersk Logistics are currently involving key supply chain stakeholders in a formal pilot. Phase one field testing will begin in early November 2005, followed by a large commercial pilot in March 2006.

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