First SST Results Show Promise

Smart and Secure Tradelanes initiative can heighten security, improve supply chain efficiency, founders say

Washington — May 20, 2003 — Executives of the Smart and Secure Tradelanes (SST) program this week touted the initial results of the global initiative to improve cargo container security and efficiency, saying that the project had demonstrated that its baseline automated network can improve the ability to track, locate and detect the integrity of intermodal shipments in real-time, thereby creating greater levels of security, efficiency, information accuracy and collaboration.

Based on automatic identification technologies and software used for nearly a decade to track military supplies worldwide in real-time, SST now has established a network infrastructure for commercial use at 15 major ports worldwide and has deployed sensor-related systems to track nearly 1,000 smart containers shipped from Asia and Europe into the United States.

With the successful completion of the network infrastructure in Phase 1 of the project, SST said that the partnership of more than 65 companies now is shifting into its second phase with the objectives of adding 20 tradelanes, developing fully sensor-equipped "smart containers" and increasing the volume of SST-related containers to more than 5,000. SST also is extending the development of smart containers, ranging from the placement of intrusion-detection systems on existing containers to embedding sensors into the containers at the time they are manufactured.

In addition, Phase 2 will build onto the platform more layers of security, including a grid of sensor technologies for detecting environmental changes inside containers, automated surveillance cameras, biometric identification and satellite tracking for in-transit visibility. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also recently announced it will partner with SST to help define and develop criteria for cargo container security standards.

The SST process enables identification of personnel, cargo and transportation information about the container and its contents at the point of origin. Further, SST is intended to provide real-time supply chain security and management information to partners involved in the shipment of cargo containers by integrating data from active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags combined with intrusion detection sensors that are attached to intermodal containers, stationary and mobile readers that capture the data at key nodes, and site managers that process and transmit critical event-driven information to a software application called the Transportation Security System. As a result, users can monitor the location, status and security of these containers in real-time via their Web-enabled computers, cell phones or other personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Phase 1 findings of the initial network, which were analyzed under the guidance of Dr. Hau Lee, a professor of supply chain management at Stanford University and founder of the university's Global Supply Chain Forum, show that:

  • The network's baseline infrastructure has met its initial objectives for end-to-end tracking the location and security status of specific containers and their contents in real-time.

  • Key supply chain and security events and exceptions — such as container tamperings, business processes such as container violations, misroutes and delays — are being reported accurately throughout the information network in real-time.

  • Chain-of-custody audit trails of the containers' history are generated, which provide useful profiles and forensics to improve the efficiency of the supply chain, its processes and structure.

  • This system and processes integrate and augment existing electronic data interchange (EDI)-based information systems.

Significantly, tests in Asian ports found that the SST network meets and has the capacity to go beyond U.S. Customs requirements for its 24-Hour Manifest Rule, which requires cargo manifests to be reported a full day before departure. The SST network provided manifests 24 hours before departure 100 percent of the time and 72 hours before departure 80 percent of the time.

SST is to complete a final and more complete report on the first phase in the third quarter of this year. This report will include information on the costs and economic benefits each participant in the supply chain can expect as part of an end-to-end intermodal container security network.

"The initial data from Smart and Secure Tradelanes shows that it holds great promise for fundamentally changing and improving the supply chain structure and logistics of managing intermodal cargo containers, which account for more than 90 percent of worldwide trade," said Lee. "Initially, SST was launched to address security gaps and concerns about terrorists using containers to conceal weapons of mass destruction. SST is proving it can address this important concern, but it's also proving that its automated information network can provide valuable benefits to many of the supply chain's long-time inefficiencies."

Said Sam Banks, former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and a founding member of the Strategic Council on Security Technology, a global advisory resource that helped to launch SST, "SST's ability to automate information and integrate with Customs electronic information systems means that it can be a valuable means for complying with the 24-Hour Manifest Rule and other Customs programs."

Today, more than 65 companies have joined the SST initiative, which is designed to offer a holistic approach compatible with government programs to ensure container security. The Strategic Council on Security Technology helped start SST, along with the world's largest port operators and such solution providers as Savi Technology and QUALCOMM.

For more information on global trade management solutions and their role in supply chain security, see the Net Best Thing article in the upcoming June/July 2003 issue of iSource Business.