Container Shipping Track and Trace Standards Established

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Published Jan 30, 2020 5:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

The non-profit Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has published a common set of processes along with data and interface standards for Track and Trace (T&T). The standards can be implemented by carriers, shippers and third parties to enable cross-carrier shipment tracking. 

The DCSA T&T standard comprises an information model and interface standards that can be freely downloaded from the DCSA website. The data model ensures track and trace data definitions are consistent for all users, leveraging any system. These definitions are based on the Industry Blueprint, published by DCSA and its carrier members in 2019, which established a consistent vocabulary and proposed a common set of industry processes. 

The T&T standards are aligned with the UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) standards to provide a global industry framework designed to preserves existing investments and streamline communication among all supply chain participants.

The standards aim to reduce complexity, cut costs and, over time, enable better management of end-to-end supply chains. For shippers, the new standard will simplify shipment visibility across multiple carriers, enabling them to better plan and optimize shipment handling activities. For carriers, it will unify T&T information sharing with other parties, ensuring accurate and efficient communication regardless of the underlying technology or platform. 

The DCSA T&T standard publication comprises a set of documents: the DCSA Information Model 1.0, T&T Data Interface 1.0, DCSA-to-UN/CEFACT Data Mapping and associated Reading Guides.

Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA, said: “As DCSA standards are technology- and vendor-neutral, every organization providing shipment tracking information to its customers today will benefit by adopting our T&T standard, because it will simplify data integration with carriers and improve information quality.”

The DCSA expects to have IoT standards ready later this year. The objective is to provide a reliable basis for DCSA members to share requirements and specifications for IoT solutions installed on containers, such as GPS tracking and smart containers. Started in October 2019, a Network Connectivity project addresses the communication technology layers of IoT solutions. Next, a Devices & Gateways project will start this year focusing on defining the properties of IoT devices mounted on the container and gateways in terminals, warehouses and vessels.

The DCSA has also started a cybersecurity initiative to provide best practice guidance to carriers.

Current DCSA ocean carrier membership represents 70 percent of the global container shipping market.