The first wave of "smart and secure" ocean containers filled with merchandise to replenish store shelves for the new year have been transported over the Pacific Ocean between major ports in Asia and the U.S. West Coast. These milestone shipments mark the successful operational deployment of Smart and Secure Tradelanes, the world's largest public-private initiative to improve the end-to-end security and efficiency of container transportation. This unique partnership is sponsored by the Strategic Council on Security Technology, a global advisory resource and catalyst for cargo, and includes a rapidly growing list of partners, including major shippers, port and terminal operators, transportation service providers and technology solution providers.
The groundbreaking SST initiative repurposes infrastructure, processes and technology used by the U.S. Department of Defense to deliver both productivity and security benefits to ports, terminal operators, service providers, carriers and shippers. By leveraging existing proven methods within the context of an open system that allows for innovation and expansion, SST has created a solid baseline infrastructure that vastly improves security and productivity now, and can be enhanced over time as new technologies and enhanced processes are deployed.
Over the past month, SST partners have shipped more than 100 40-foot long ocean containers, which have carried automotive parts, electronic equipment, toys and other consumer product goods. The containers have been equipped with electronic seals that detect security breaches and instantly communicate their status and location over radio frequencies to a Web-based software security network. The first 100 of these "smart and secure" containers have been shipped between the ports of Hong Kong, Singapore, Seattle and Los Angeles and Long Beach over the past six weeks.
The most recent shipment included 10 container loads of store merchandise that was managed successfully by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) – a large port operator -- on behalf of a major U.S.-based retailer and that involved a number of HPH partners, including Savi Technology, Maersk Logistics and Mitsui OSK.
Throughout the pre-loading process, strategically placed RFID readers continuously monitored location and security status (and verified information) up until the time they were scheduled for departure. With no irregularities recorded, these containers were loaded onto a vessel with some 5,000 other conventional containers that looked the same but weren't electronically secured.
After the typical 10-day journey across the Pacific Ocean, the vessel transporting these containers berthed at the Port of Seattle, where another series of strategically placed RFID readers recorded their location and security status, enabling the shipments to be verified and certified in near real-time by all relevant U.S. authorities. Once cleared to exit the Port of Seattle, the smart containers were loaded onto the chassis of a regional carrier and transported to a third-party distribution facility outside the Port of Seattle.
The distribution center, which is also equipped with the same SST technology, continued to capture key events and transmit them to the Savi Transportation Security System software, where real-time information is accessed by pre-authorized parties in a secured Internet environment. Authorized personnel then unlocked the SmartSeal using an encrypted code, the event was recorded and transmitted to the Transportation Security System software, enabling complete information verification and the instant creation of a documented audit trail of the entire process.
The Strategic Council on Security Technology is an international assembly of top executives from the world's largest port operators, major logistics technology providers, four-star generals, former public officials and prominent transportation consultancies. Acting as an international resource, the Strategic Council on Security Technology is committed to helping ensure greater supply chain security through best-of-breed practices and technologies while working with a variety of other industry associations.