Archives For RFID

Customs_&_Central_Excise_DKBThe Indian Customs department (CBEC) has allowed self-sealing procedure as of 1 October for containers to be exported, as it aims to move towards a ‘trust based compliance environment’ and trade facilitation for exporters.

In a circular to all Principal Chief Commissioners, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said exporters who were availing facility of sealing at the factory premises under the supervision of customs authorities will be automatically entitled for self-sealing facility.

It said that permission once granted for self-sealing at an approved premise will remain valid unless withdrawn. However, in case of change in the premise, a fresh approval from Customs department will be required.

“The new self-sealing procedure shall come into effect from October 1, 2017. Till then the existing procedure shall continue,” the CBEC said.

It asked field officers to notify a Superintendent-rank officer to act as the nodal officer for the self-sealing procedure.

The officer will be responsible for coordination of the arrangements for installation of reader-scanners.

Earlier in July, the CBEC had said it will introduce the system of self-sealing by 1 September , as against the practise of sealing of containers under the supervision of revenue officials.

However, the CBEC now said that exporters can self-seal containers using the tamper proof electronic seals from 1 October 2017.

Under the new procedure, the exporter will have to declare the physical serial number of the e-seal at the time of filing the online integrated shipping bill or in the case of manual shipping bill before the container is dispatched for the port.

The exporters will directly procure RFID seals from vendors.

“In case, the RFID seals of the containers are found to be tampered with, then mandatory examination would be carried out by the Customs authorities,” the CBEC said.

From October 1, the exporters will need to furnish e-seal number, date of sealing, time of sealing, destination customs station for export, container number and trailer track number to the customs authorities.

In a circular in July, the CBEC had said it endeavours to create a trust based environment where compliance with laws is ensured by strengthening risk management system and Intelligence setup of the department.

Accordingly, CBEC has decided to lay down a simplified procedure for stuffing and sealing of export goods in containers. Source: The India Times > Economic Times, 5 September 2017.

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loginno3Technology once again demonstrates that it not only ‘enables’ but can also provide companies a ‘differentiator’ to get ahead of the competition – at least for a while. This is the second such innovation in recent weeks which addresses the needs of international shippers and logistics operators in meeting stringent security requirements while at the same time offering a compelling solution for supply chain auditability and the management of their assets. Furthermore, with more and more countries offering authorised economic operator (AEO) programs these same shippers and logistics operators will in the longer term enjoy a certain comfort from such technology investments through swifter customs clearance or green-lane treatment.

Two leading intra-Asia box lines are switching their entire container fleet to smart containers as they attempt to differentiate themselves from competitors. Hong Kong-based SITC Shipping Group and SIPG container shipping arm Hai Hua have both announced they will upgrade their entire container fleet to smart containers using products from Loginno. SITC, which has a fleet of 66 vessels with a total capacity approaching 2m teu, said it had decided to use smart containers to try to offer customers a different service to other carriers.

SITC Shipping Group Xue MingYuan said: “In a market with more and more homogeneous services, we have to think about why our customers would choose us over others.

“Being among the first to offer, as a standard service on all of our containers, full insight into their cargo movements and security, for a very low additional cost, we differentiate ourselves instantly, and hopefully save our customers a lot of logistic costs in their supply chain.”

This view was echoed by Hai Hua general manager JP Wang: “We have been looking for an affordable means to convert our fleet to smart containers. Shippers and Cargo owners have been long waiting for this service.”

Smart container technology has been around for a few years, but the cost of the technology and fears of damage and theft of the equipment has been enough to discourage its widespread take up. There have also been concerns from shipping lines about how to monetize the technology.

But the industry is gradually increasing its use of the technology. CMA CGM just recently announced a major initiative to introduce smart container technology to its fleet. Loginno chief technology officer Amit Aflalo said its device, which is slightly larger than a mobile phone, was inexpensive and easy to install. The device offers GPS, temperature monitoring, intrusion detection and a movement detector and can provide updates to mobile phones. Source: Lloyds Loading / Loginno

TraxensFrench shipping giant CMA CGM will start phasing in ‘smart’ containers this year, allowing the line and its customers to keep track of each box equipped with new sensors at all times. In an industry first, technology being developed with a start-up company, Traxens, would enable data on the location and condition of the container to be monitored at all times throughout a delivery.

The world’s third-largest container line and Ocean Three member said it had contributed to the capital increase of French firm Traxens that will enable CMA CGM to have access to an unprecedented amount of information on each container and offer clients what it describes as unique tracking solutions and real-time data collecting from all over the world.

Elie Zeenny, CMA CGM senior vice-president, Group IT Systems, said the technology would bring the shipping industry into a new era. This year, Traxens plans to equip the first CMA CGM containers with the patented technology so it will be possible to know in real-time not only a container’s position, but also its temperature, the vibrations it will be subjected to, any attempted burglary, the presence of traces of specific substances in the air or even the regulatory status of the cargo.

With its “4Trax” solution, Traxens offers the tracking of containers from cargo loading to their final destination, and the forwarding of data in real time to all actors in the multimodal transport chain. Traxens has also worked closely with French Customs in the development of its solution. In this regard the solution aims to record the legal status of the container (customs clearance) with the view to eradicate false declarations and counterfeits and to facilitate controls. Sources: Lloyds loading, CMA CGM and Traxens

The E-Thread tag, shown here embedded in a spool of thread (RFID Journal)

The E-Thread tag, shown here embedded in a spool of thread (RFID Journal)

Several industrial linen companies in the United Kingdom and France are testing a new RFID tag that is literally woven into a textile or fabric product. The E-Thread, developed by French startup Primo1D, consists of an EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID chip connected to two 10-centimeter-long (4-inch-long) antennas—extending from opposite sides of the chip—integrated into a thread (which could be made from polyester, cotton, wool or plastic) that is then woven into garments, linens, luxury items or industrial products. Because the thread is nearly impossible to visually identify as an RFID tag, the company claims, it cannot be located and removed or disabled by counterfeiters or thieves, and its durability enables the tag to last as long as the textile into which it is woven.

The E-Thread technology—for which there are 20 patents pending—is available in three versions: one with a wired sensor to track such things as temperature or motion, one with a light-emitting diode (LED) built into it, and a third with an EPC UHF passive RFID chip and antenna to store and transmit data when interrogated. The LED version is intended for cosmetic purposes; when sewn into a garment, a car-seat cover or some other object, it could illuminate when wired to a power source. The sensor-based thread could be used in an athlete’s uniform to track his or her condition, but would also require a power source, such as a battery, to operate. To record that data, however, the sensor would need to be connected to some sort of data logger or computing device.

The RFID-enabled version is initially being tested by several companies that manage and launder linens and other textile products used by hospitals and hotels. Pilots of the RFID E-Thread are slated to continue for the next six months, allowing Primo1D the opportunity to make any necessary improvements before full-scale manufacturing and commercially releasing the product during the fourth quarter of 2015. The linen manufacturers undertaking the pilots are reading the tags built into threads in a variety of products, such as bedding or table cloths, and are putting those items through industrial laundry processes, as well as periodically reading the E-Threads, to test their durability.

The E-Thread provides an alternative to other RFID labels that must be sewn onto or adhered to a piece of fabric or garment. The shortcoming of RFID labels, he notes, is that counterfeiters or thieves can see them and thus remove them from products. In addition, store personnel often remove them once a product is sold. When it comes to high-value luxury apparel, the concern of retailers and brands is that an RFID label will be removed from a product, attached to a counterfeit version of that product, and then returned to the supply chain for sale in stores. With the E-Thread solution, a counterfeiter would not know the location of the RFID chip and antenna, and would thus be unable to place them on a counterfeit product. Potential thieves would not be able to find the E-Thread either, he adds—since it cannot be seen—and, therefore, would be unable to disable the tags in a store or other location with the intention of passing them through a reader undetected.

For those in the industrial laundry market, such as linens manufacturers and those using the linens, the thread is more secure than a label (which could be torn or knocked loose during the laundering process). The thread can be included in the fabric at the point of manufacture, thereby saving the step of sewing labels onto items.

The E-Thread RFID tag works with any standard UHF RFID reader, and can typically be interrogated at a range of up to 7 meters. In the case of laundry management, a company could receive bags of soiled linens from a customer renting its products, and could then transport the bags through a reader portal. Rather than opening every bag and then sorting through and visually accounting for each item contained within, users could simply create an electronic record of all goods received. For linen sorting, users would want to put each garment through a tunnel reader in order to identify it, one tag at a time, perhaps by placing items on a conveyor that passes through that tunnel. In that way, they could separate items based on type, or according to the particular customer using them.

The E-Thread will cost more than a standard UHF label, but will offer the feature of being discrete, thereby providing anti-counterfeiting capability and other functionality that standard labels cannot offer. Because the E-Thread is designed to be rugged enough for industrial washing, it is also expected to outlast the lifespan of the product into which it is sewn. With that in mind, the E-Thread tag could be read at the time of a product’s disposal, enabling a company to access data regarding how that item could be recycled.

The E-Thread will be sold in the form of a spool of thread, with the RFID tag built directly into the thread material. The thread’s length and the quantity of RFID tags embedded in a single piece of thread would vary, depending on a user’s requirements. Source: Rfid Journal

Inefficiency of road freight transport is one of the primary factors that hamper the economy of sub-Saharan Africa. Long delays experienced at border posts are the single biggest contributor towards the slow average movement of freight. Cross-border operations are complicated by the conflicting security objectives of customs and border authorities versus efficiency objectives of transport operators. It furthermore suffers from illegal practices involving truck drivers and border officials. In theory the efficiency of cross-border operations can be improved based on the availability of more accurate and complete information – the latter will be possible if different stakeholders can exchange data between currently isolated systems.

Cross-border trade basically comprises 3 distinct but interlinked layers –

An information layer – in which various trade documentation (purchase order, invoice), cargo and conveyance information (packing list, manifest), customs and government regulatory data (declaration, permits) are exchanged between various supply chain entities and the customs authority. These primarily attest to the legal ownership, contract of carriage, reporting and compliance with customs and other regulatory authority formalities (export and import), and delivery at destination.

A logistics layer – for the collection, consolidation, sealing and conveyance of physical cargo from point of despatch via at least two customs control points (export and import), to deconsolidation and delivery at point of destination.

A financial layer – which refers to the monetary exchange flow from buyer (importer) to seller (exporter) according to the terms and conditions of the sale (INCOTERMS). Hmm… no, this does not include ‘bribe’ money.

All three layers are inter-linked and prone to risk at any point of a given transaction. There is also no silver bullet solution to secure supply chains. Moreover, it is a fallacy that Customs and Border Agencies will ever conquer cross-border crime – simply because there are too many angles to monitor. Furthermore, in order to set up cross—border information exchange and joint enforcement operations it is both legally and politically time-consuming. Criminal elements are not hampered by these ‘institutions’, they simply spot the gaps and forge ahead.

One of the areas requiring customs attention is that of chain of custody. In short this implies the formal adoption of the World Customs Organisation’s SAFE Framework principles. Each party with data that needs to be filed with the government for Customs and security screening purposes has responsibilities. Those responsibilities include –

  • Protecting the physical goods from tampering, theft, and damage.
  • Providing appropriate information to government authorities in a timely and accurate manner for security screening purposes.
  • Protecting the information related to the goods from tampering and unauthorized access. This responsibility applies equally to times before, during and after having custody of the goods.

Tenacent RFID Tag

Tenacent RFID Tag

Security seals are an integral part of the chain of custody. The proper grade and application of the security seal is addressed below. Security seals should be inspected by the receiving party at each change of custody for a cargo-laden container. Inspecting a seal requires visual check for signs of tampering, comparison of the seal’s identification number with the cargo documentation, and noting the inspection in the appropriate documentation. More recently the emergence of certain e-seals and container security devices (CSDs) contribute even further to minimizing the amount of ‘physical’ verification required, as they are able to electronically notify the owner of the goods or government authority in the event of an incidence of tampering.

White Paper - GPS-RFID systems for cross-border management of freight consignments

White Paper – GPS-RFID systems for cross-border management of freight consignments

A group of South African specialist engineers have been working closely with transport authorities, logistics specialists, defense experts and customs authorities across the globe. Their e-seal is patented in no less than 16 high volume countries. It is produced in Singapore, China and Indonesia depending on politics, free-trade agreements and demand. May move some to Brazil and US in time. Proof of concept (POC) initiatives are currently underway in Brazil for rail cargo, US Marine Corps for their p-RFID program and other Department of Defense divisions in the USA, and will shortly be included in one of the GSA agreements making it available to any government department in the US. Further adrift, the e-seal is also currently enjoying interest in Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Panama, Jordan, Italy, Spain, and Malaysia. Here, in South Africa, a POC was conducted at the 1st autogate at Durban Container Terminal, funded by the North West University, and overseen with successfully achieved objectives by Transnet Port Terminals. For technical details of the RFID seal, click here!

With much anticipated success abroad, how much support will this product attain in the local and sub-Saharan African scene? Government authorities, as well as logistics and supply chain operators are therefore encouraged to study the enclosed ‘white paper’ – Click Here!. It firstly quantifies the size of the problem and estimates the potential economic benefits that will be created by improved cross-border operations. It then proposes a combined GPS/RFID system that can provide the required level of visibility to support improved operational management, resulting in a simultaneous increase in the security and efficiency of cross-border freight operations. A brief cost-benefits analysis is performed to show that the expected benefits from such a system will by far exceed the costs of implementation. Source: Tenacent & iPico

ura-logo-fireworks-advertisingA goods-laden vehicle arrives at a Uganda border where a declaration is made for transit to another country. But after clearance by customs officials, it disappears before exiting and the goods are sold on the local market. This causes undue competition as such goods are often low priced. And if that status quo does not change, local industries are affected gradually. Although such practices have occurred in the past, the future is bright owing to the introduction of a system that can track the movement of goods and give real-time updates.

Costing $5.2m, the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) has been introduced by URA to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business. The government, World Bank and Trade Mark East Africa, a trade facilitation organization, have supported the project, which is expected to be ready for testing by the end of August, and be fully implemented by end of November. URA Commissioner General Allen Kagina and BSMART Technology boss Stephen Teang this week signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the plan. This was at the URA head office in Nakawa, Kampala.

Kagina, who referred to it as a “landmark initiative”, praised the fact that customs officers would have regular updates regarding merchandise. She also hailed the fact that the provider would train staff, giving them much-needed skills.

The system will facilitate trade through timely execution and cancellation of customs bond guarantees for cargo in transit, making the transit process faster, more efficient and secure. Furthermore, this will enhance trade facilitation and business competitiveness countrywide.

How it works – ECTS relies on a control centre and automatic devices. The devices are attached onto a truck and constantly give feedback to the team at the control centre. Among others, the feedback includes include location of a vehicle, speed and status of the container (truck tampered with or not). If the device gives information that is contrary to that declared earlier, for example, goods being dumped here instead of being exported, customs officials make a decision accordingly. The system will be pioneered on high-risk goods like sugar, wines and spirits, textiles, explosives, and cigarettes. Thereafter, it will be rolled out to other types of merchandise.

Advantages – The system enables parties like customs officials and transporters to receive fulltime and real-time updates. URA has over the years introduced initiatives such as One-Stop Border processes and 24-hour operations at the major entry/exit points but the business community has sometimes not realized the benefits due to the numerous unwarranted stopovers. ECTS makes this a thing of the past. Source: The Observer (Kampala)

container-trackingThe US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Internet search giant Google a patent on a system for securing, monitoring and tracking containers. According to United States Patent 8284045, it describes a two-way communication system, supported by an electronic bolt seal, a network gateway, a web-based platform, and a mobile device, that allows containers to be networked for the transfer of data. Shipping containers are networked for transferring data between the shipping containers. The shipping containers include sensors for detecting conditions associated with the shipping containers. The conditions sensed by any shipping container whether transported by rail or ship is transmitted from an ad hoc network, via a gateway configured for satellite or cellular communications for example, to a container-tracking application server or equivalent computer system. The computer system is remotely located to the shipping container for central compilation, analysis, and/or display of data regarding the shipping containers.

The system describes an environmental sensor that can travel with a product within a carrier’s logistics network. The environmental sensor being configured to sense an environmental condition capable of affecting the product to generate product environment data. The system includes a scanner configured to read product environment data from the environmental sensor. The system also includes a hub control unit configured to communicate with the scanner and receive the product environment data from the scanner and determines whether the product environment data transcends a limit of exposure of the product to an environmental condition. The hub control unit is also configured to generate a transporting instruction to redirect transport of the product to an alternate destination different from its original destination if the hub control unit determines that the product environment data indicates the environmental condition of the product has transcended the limit of exposure. What a mouthful! I dare say that there are people out there that can decipher the patent content and relate to its various diagrams. If you are interested in this topic, please visit the following link – http://www.archpatent.com/patents/8284045. Also visit the Patent Buddy for similar information. Hopefully as the business case for this patent unfolds things may become a bit more clearer – and perhaps a little sinister too for some!

The Organization is celebrating its 60th anniversary, an occasion which gives the global Customs community the chance to reflect on where the WCO began, where it is now, and where it hopes to go in the future. This issue highlights some of the WCO’s milestones past and present, we take a brief look at the WCO’s historical beginnings and subsequent development, follow one man’s forty year Customs journey, look at the history of containerization: the box that changed the world, and even step back to 1969 when the Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the moon. In this dossier, not only does the WCO look back with pride, but also looks forward with optimism, conscious of the fact that the WCO has served the global Customs community with dedication for sixty years, and will continue doing so to ensure that Customs administrations remain well-positioned to deliver effective and efficient services around the world. Also in this issue –

  • Doorless containers now a reality,
  • US/EU mutual recognition programme,
  • New guidelines included in WCO Revenue Package,
  • Globally Networked Customs,
  • GS1 and the WCO,
  • Algeria Customs and performance management,
  • Georgia’s success in rooting out corruption,
  • Hong Kong moves forward with its e-Lock plans.

Source: http://www.wcoomd.org

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) reports that RFID-based container locks can effectively improve the security, convenience and visibility of the customs process for cargo entering the airport. In November 2011, C&ED began testing three types of electronic locks (e-locks) in order to speed up the process of performing customs checks on containers filled with cargo. The solution, known as the Intermodal Transhipment Facilitation Scheme (ITFS), was implemented as a way to streamline the clearance of cargo passing through customs at Hong Kong International Airport for cargo destined for areas both domestic and outside of Hong Kong. The installation and consulting services were provided by the Hong Kong R&D Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies (LSCM), according to Frank Tong, LSCM’s director of research and technology development.

An electronic lock with an active RFID tag is being used to secure freight passing through
customs and Hong Kong International Airport, ensuring that the cargo remains tamper-free,
while also expediting the clearance process.

The Hong Kong C&ED estimates that the system reduces the amount of time required for clearing each container through customs, from two to three hours down to five minutes, since customs officials can now be assured that the containers have not been opened between their inspection at the border control point and their arrival at the airport. What’s more, the agency can now collect a digital record of where each container has been, along with when it was inspected.

Cargo is loaded into freight containers or directly onto trucks—such as those operated by United Parcel Service (UPS)—in Mainland China, and is then transported to a customs control point located at the border with Hong Kong, where C&ED officials inspect the cargo and clear it for entry into Hong Kong. Following that clearance, the shipment continues on to Hong Kong International Airport’s cargo terminal, where the goods are unloaded from the container or vehicle, and are placed into an air cargo container. Once this has occurred, the cargo is moved through another customs control point at the airport, where C&ED again inspects and approves or rejects its passage.

To speed up this process, the R&D Center implemented the use of an e-lock for the customs agency, consisting of a physical lock activated by a built-in active RFID tag, designed to receive a transmission from an RFID reader that allows the lock to be opened or closed. Three types of e-locks are currently being used, provided by three different vendors: Long Sun Logistics Development Ltd, CIMC Intelligent Technology Co. and CelluWare Research Laboratory. Each of the three products employs a different frequency—433 MHz, 315 MHz and 2.4 GHz—but all comply with the ISO 17712 standard for mechanical seals designed for freight containers.

LSCM has installed fixed RFID readers (provided by the three e-lock vendors) at two border control points—Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen Bay—as well as at Hong Kong International Airport. When a shipment first arrives at either border control point, C&ED’s staff attaches an e-lock, reads the ID number encoded on its built-in RFID tag via a handheld reader, and links that ID with the vehicle registration number of the truck transporting the container. The transporting company must pre-register each vehicle with the Hong Kong C&ED prior to its arrival; the truck’s ID number is listed in the agency’s database, and the customs official can confirm that the vehicle is, in fact, the one expected.

That data, along with the specific cargo being transported, is then stored on the Hong Kong C&ED’s integrated tracking software platform, developed by LSCM, which collects and processes the data and then displays it for customs officials when necessary. The system stores the e-lock ID number linked to the vehicle ID, and transmits instructions to the e-lock, along with a password, thereby causing it to lock. The device also requires a physical key, which remains in the driver’s possession. In this way, two actions must be completed before the container or vehicle can be unlocked: The e-lock must be electronically unlocked via a password from a customs official, and the driver must use a key to physically open the padlock.

The shipment is then transported approximately 42 kilometers (26 miles) to the airport. The e-lock comes with a built-in GPS device that tracks the vehicle’s location as it moves. In that way, the e-lock stores a record of where the vehicle has been. When the lock is later read at the airport, the back-end software compares the actual GPS data against the container’s expected route. The system can issue alerts in circumstances in which an e-lock is found to have lost a GPS signal, or, based on GPS data, the truck appears to have deviated from the intended route.

At Hong Kong International Airport, a C&ED official either selects the container for inspection, or simply instructs the system to issue an unlocking command with the matching password; the container is then brought to a site where the cargo is removed and then loaded onto an aircraft, says Steve Wai-chiu Chan, a C&ED special duties officer. If the container is selected for inspection, the e-lock remains locked. In this scenario, a truck driver would be instructed to await a C&ED officer, and would be unable to unlock the container without providing the proper password. The C&ED officer, upon arrival, would then use a handheld device to read the e-lock, instructing it to unlock by providing the necessary password.

LSCM installed a total of 38 readers at the two land border control points, five logistic hubs at the airport and a marine control point known as the Kwai Chung Customhouse, for items arriving by sea (at the Marine Cargo Terminal located at the airport). Altogether, by February of this year, 109 containers had been equipped with the e-lock device. An average of 100,000 consignments pass through the border daily, and the ITFS e-lock system is utilized for about 17 percent of that cargo.

The solution has enabled a faster customs clearance process, as well as providing a digital record of what was unlocked, and thus inspected, and when this occurred. The system also improves security, since only officers who know the proper password can access the container. Ultimately, Chan says, “it enhances the Hong Kong logistic industry’s competency and reinforces Hong Kong’s position as a world-class logistics hub.” Source: RFID Journal and a word of thanks to Andy Brown (Tenacent) for bringing the article to my attention.

Smartag Solutions, a homegrown total radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions provider, will handle 1.3 million containers at all Royal Malaysian Customs (JDKM) checkpoints in Malaysia starting June.The company has entered into a two-year agreement with the government to implement and operate the Container Security and Trade Facilitation System using its RFID solutions at the JDKM checkpoints.

This is the first electronic and electrical Entry Point Project, under the 12 National Key Economic Areas to monitor containers and facilitate clearance within domestic ports and selected high volume routes. The enhancement of container security using the RFID track and trace system reduces the risk of terrorism, dangerous chemicals and contraband from reaching borders while increasing the efficiency of container movement through Customs checkpoints.

The system allows users to use the RFID seal to secure their containers when entering, leaving and moving within the country. Smartag Solutions is expected to handle 50 per cent of the total transactions at the Customs approved by JDKM, or 500,000 containers. Source: BTimes.com

Related articles

In an ongoing effort to reduce wait times at the International Bridge, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations will pilot a project to bring vehicles to the inspection booths in less time.
The stop signs will be placed in all three upper lanes and will shorten the “pull up” distance to the booth. This allows vehicles to queue up quicker. “Efficacy in movement is paramount to this project’s success. We are always trying to improve the flow of legitimate traffic while enforcing the laws of the United States,” said Patrick Wilson, CBP Sault Ste. Marie Assistant Port Director.

The Sault Ste Marie port of entry has a unique design that separates commercial traffic from car traffic, creating an upper and lower plaza. The focus of this project will be on the upper plaza only and will not affect the flow of traffic on the lower plaza.

Stop signs will be placed in all three upper lanes beginning Friday, April 20. The stop signs will shorten the “pull up” distance to the booth. This allows vehicles to queue up quicker. The stop signs will be placed near Radio Frequency Identification readers where the traveling public can display their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative RFID-enabled document to pre-populate the officer’s computer screens.

CBP is testing the theory that they can process more travelers each hour by reducing the amount of time it takes each vehicle to get to the inspecting officer. This pilot project will incorporate a two-stop sign process. Upon entering the upper plaza, vehicles will be required to stop at the first existing stop sign. As the vehicle ahead clears, travelers will move to the next new stop sign and present their ID to the RFID reader. Once the vehicle at the inspection booth clears, travelers will proceed to the inspection booth.

Vehicles with trailers/campers are asked to use the lower plaza lanes so as not to impede the functionality of installed equipment. LED signage will be adjusted to notify motorists of this change.

CBP officers will direct traffic periodically during this project to help educate travelers on this new process. “We continue to look for efficiencies in our processes to improve the border crossing experience. If we can save a couple of seconds of inspection time per vehicle, the time savings should reduce each traveler’s wait,” said Assistant Port Director Wilson. Source: http://www.cbp.com

Officials at the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) have made a turnaround on their earlier plan to compel IT companies to raise 20 million Br in capital if they are to be registered to supply devises for electronic cargo tracking. Troubled by an increasing practice of pilfering goods on the Addis Abeba to Djibouti transport corridor, the ERCA hired an US-based company for 2.5 million dollars to establish an electronic monitoring system. HI-G-TEK developed the system using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which will help customs officials get real-time information on the activities of trucks to and from Djibouti port. There are around 10,000 trucks with varying carrying capacities, of which half are fuel transporting vehicles. A trucking company has to pay around 20,000 Br, including installation fees, to get the devices in each truck under its fleet.

The US company has installed the system in the six selected stations along the corridor and trained around 30 officers of the Authority. However, the system is yet to be functional, for every truck on the highway should be fitted with electronic tracking devices to be supplied by IT vendors certified by the Authority. In order to be certified, a company is required to have 20 million Br in capital, produce a performance bond worth two million Birr, and have a five-year contract with major IT suppliers, according to the directive issued by the ERCA to regulate the new system. No vendor has been certified, yet, for many see the requirement to raise such lofty capital as an impediment. So far, GCS Tracking Plc, Global Tracking Plc, Ramsea Industrial Solution Plc, and FC Tracking are the companies that have applied to get into the business. The companies are to supply the seals, locks, and compact readers as well as GPRS modems to identify locations of the cargoes.

Subsequent to complaints from the IT industry, legal experts at the ERCA are busying themselves, studying the experiences of other countries, which they hope will be used for possible amendments. However, these experts are divided over the proposition to reduce by half the current capital requirement, while others argue that a performance bond is enough, according to sources. Surprised to hear about the amendment, Zelalem Dagna, managing director of Global Tracking Plc, sees the change as an appropriate move by the ERCA. However, he still claims that the requirement for a two million Birr performance bond should not be removed but be determined on a project basis.

Officials at the ERCA, which is enforcing the current requirements, however, declined to comment. The Authority is also negotiating with the Ministry of Transport (MoT), which is implementing a fleet management system that will also monitor and indicate the whereabouts of trucks, negotiating with the Authority to interface the two systems. Most of the devices used for both systems are the same, thus can run with a single subscriber identification module (SIM) card, transferring all data for the respective institution, according to an electrical engineer at the ERCA. He is concerned that failure to interface the systems would allow transport companies to jack up prices, which he fears would trickle down to the end user.

By all accounts it seems like the initiative was launched on impulse and a whim without prior consultation with stakeholders. Per usual it’s the consultants who have scored out of this. Source: Addis Fortune

South African Customs law provides for a seal integrity regime. This consists in provisions for the sealing of containerised sea cargo as well as sealable vehicles and trailers. These requirements have, however, not been formally introduced into operation due to the non-availability (until recently) of internal systems and cross-functional procedures that would link seal integrity to known entities. To explain this in more layman’s terms, it is little use implementing an onerous cargo sealing program without systems to perform risk assessment, validation of trader profiles and information exchange. It’s  like implementing non-intrusive inspection (X-ray scanning) equipment without backward integration into the Customs Risk Management  and Inspection environment and systems. It has often been stated that a customs or border security programme is a layered approach based on risk mitigation. None of the individual elements will necessarily address risk, and automation alone will likewise not accomplish the objective for safe and secure supply chains. Moreover, neither will measures adopted by Customs or the Border Agency succeed without due and necessary compliance on the part of entities operating the supply chain. It therefore requires a holistic strategy of people, policy, process and technology.

In the African context, it is surmised that the business rationale will be best accomplished with a dual approach on IT connectivity and information exchange. Under the political speak there are active attempts within SACU, SADC, COMESA and the EAC to establish electronic networks to facilitate and safeguard transit goods. Several African states are landlocked and are not readily accessible, some requiring multiple transit trips through countries from international discharge in the continent to place of final destination. National laws of each individual country in most instances provide obstacles to carriers achieving cost effective means in delivering cargoes. Over and above the laws, there exists (regrettably) the need to ‘grease palms’ without which safe passage in some instances  will not be granted. Notwithstanding the existence of customs unions and free trade areas, internal borders remain the biggest obstacle to facilitation.

Several African logistics operators already implement track and trace technology in the vehicle and long-haul fleets. This has the dual purpose of safeguarding their assets as well as the cargoes of their clients which they convey. Since 9/11, a few customs administrations have formally adopted ISO PAS 17712 within their legislation to regulate the use of high security seals amongst cargo handlers and carriers. In most cases this mandates the use of high security ‘mechanical’ bolt seals. However, evidence suggests there is a growing trend to adopt electronic seals. Taiwan Customs for one has gone a significant way in this regard. Through technological advances and increased commercial adoption of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology the costs are reducing significantly to warrant serious consideration as both a viable and cost-effective customs ‘control’ measure.

Supply chain custody using RFID as an identifier and physical security audit component – as provided for in ISO 17712 – is characterized by the following:

  • it uniquely identifies seals and associates them with the trader.
  • the seal’s unique identity and memory space can be used to write a digital signature, unique to a trader on the seal, and associating that seal with a customs declaration.
  • using customs trader registration/licensing information, together with infrastructure to read seal information at specified intervals along a route to create a ‘bread-crumb’ audit trail of the integrity of the cargo and conveyance.
  • using existing fleet management units installed in trucks to monitor seal integrity along the high risk legs of a cargo’s transit.
  • record the seal’s destruction at point of destination.

Looking forward to the future, it is not implausible for customs and border authorities to consider the use of RFID:

  • as a common token between autonomous customs systems.
  • to verify and audit that non-intrusion inspections have taken place en-route, and write that occurrence to the seal’s memory with the use of an updated digital signature issued to the customs inspection facility.
  • to create a date and time stamp of the cargo’s transit for compliance and profile classification – to confirm that transit goods have actually left the country as well as confirm arrival at destination (to prevent round tripping).
  • Lastly to archive a history of carrier’s activities for forensic and/or trend analysis.
This is a topic which certainly deserves more exposure in line with current regional developments on IT-connectivity and information exchange. A special word of thanks to Andy Brown for his contribution and insight to this post.
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According to a new research report from Berg Insight, the number of active remote container tracking units deployed on inter-modal shipping containers was 77,000 in Q4-2011. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 66.9 percent, this number is expected to reach 1.0 million by 2016. The penetration rate of remote tracking systems in the total population of containers is estimated to increase from 0.4 percent in 2011 to 3.6 percent in 2016. Berg Insight’s definition of a real-time container tracking solution is a system that incorporates data logging, satellite positioning and data communication to a back-office application.

The market for container tracking solutions is still in its early stage. Aftermarket solutions mounted on high value cargo and refrigerated containers will be the first use cases to adopt container tracking. Orbcomm has after recent acquisitions of Startrak and PAR LMS emerged as the largest vendor of wireless container tracking devices with solutions targeting refrigerated containers. Qualcomm, ID Systems and Telular are prominent vendors focusing on inland transportation in North America, which is so far the most mature market for container tracking solutions. PearTrack Systems, Honeywell Global Tracking, EPSa and Kirsen Global Security are examples of companies offering dedicated solutions targeting the global end-to-end container transport chain.

Ever since the events of 9/11, there have been a lot of activities to bring container tracking solutions to the market according to the report. Only now technology advancement, declining hardware prices and market awareness are starting to come together to make remote container tracking solutions attractive. Container telematics can help supply chain operators to comply with regulations and meet the high demands on security, information visibility and transportation efficiency that comes with global supply chains. Source: Berg Insight

Beitbridge inspection area6 December 2010 saw the rollout of a new electronic tool for customs inspectors at Beitbridge border post. The need for a hand-held device was identified following the rollout of a new workflow system, called Service Manager, to various Customs offices over the past few months. Although the changes introduced recently were aimed at moving Customs to a totally paperless environment, customs inspectors still had to print out their instructions on paper, manually write down the inspection results and then recapture these onto the system back in the office.

The use of an iPod by a Customs officer to conduct a physical inspection at Beitbridge this week introduces significant enhancements over the previous manual process. SARS has been liaising with iPod experts in various countries around the world over the past few months to develop this function and procure the devices.

The solution comprises an Apple iPod Touch which has been configured to operate SARS’ automated inspection workflow application – Service Manager. The introduction of a hand-held device therefore means that all the functions of Service Manager are now at the inspector’s finger-tips. Inspectors receive their instructions on the iPod, capture the results and make recommendations which then go to the finalisation/adjustment inspector. They can even take photographs with the iPod if they need further clarification on the goods they are inspecting. Inspectors no longer have to go back and forth to the office and their next job can be assigned to them on the spot. This is expected to substantially reduce the time spent on physical inspections and minimise human error.

Initially 34 iPods were procured for Beitbridge, WiFi technology was made available at the port and training of affected staff undertaken. All physical inspections at Beitbridge were being conducted with iPods and will be rolled out to the other Customs border posts throughout 2012.

While SARS’ solution is the first known Apple solution of its kind, similar solutions have been introduced recently within the US Bureau for Customs and Border Control and the Australian Border Control Agency offering varying types of functionality, including the integration of RFID technology by the Australians to monitor and track cargo movements. Life for Customs officers is a whole different and will continue to evolve if it expects to remain in touch with modern era fraud and scams.