HOUSTON & WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Port of Houston Authority (PHA), which owns and operates one of the nation's leading ports in terms of foreign waterborne and total tonnage, joins with other major port operators worldwide as the newest partner in Smart and Secure Tradelanes (SST), a rapidly expanding global security network deploying advanced security practices, business processes, and enabling technologies to improve the security and efficiency of worldwide ocean container shipments.
The PHA Commission voted during a public meeting Monday to participate in SST, an industry-driven initiative that has attracted more than 40 supply chain partners committed to closing security gaps in the global supply chain by building an automated security infrastructure at major ports worldwide that enables connectivity between supply chain participants and technologies. By becoming an SST partner, the PHA will install Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader infrastructure that communicates in real-time with a powerful software platform linked to a Transportation Security System application, enabling real-time monitoring of containers equipped with smart electronic seals.
Since launched last summer, hundreds of "smart and secure" containers equipped with electronic seals and monitored automatically via the global security network have been shipped between Asia and Europe into the United States. The PHA's participation helps extend the network to a fourth continent - South America - to ensure the security of shipments entering the United States from that part of the world. The focus of the initiative in Houston will be on end-to-end container security, starting with shipments at the shipper/manufacturer origin, and tracking them from ports of origin in Europe and Latin America to the Port of Houston.
Today's announcement was made jointly here at a press conference by the Port of Houston Authority and the Strategic Council on Security Technology, a global advisory resource and catalyst for improving the security of supply chains that was a founding partner in SST. Others participating in the announcement were U.S. Rep. Chris Bell (D-Houston); Ned Holmes, a founding SCST member and Chairman of P&O Ports, North America; Steve Sewell, president of the Ports Division of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a major engineering firm; and Tom Griffin, senior vice president at Transoceanic, a leading international freight forwarder based in Houston that is also participating in SST.
"The possibility of a weapon of mass destruction being concealed in an inbound cargo container is a very real and constant threat to the Gulf region and other major port locations in the nation," said Congressman Bell. "Smart and Secure Tradelanes is proving to be a real model of how government and industry can work together to improve security and - at the same time - ensure that the vital flow of goods continues without disruption through our port facilities."
"As one of the leading container ports in the U.S., the Port of Houston Authority should undertake every appropriate measure to ensure container safety and security," said PHA Chairman Jim Edmonds. "Our involvement with Smart and Secure Tradelanes will enhance our proactive approach to security through best practices and technological leadership, which will protect both the lives and livelihoods of people in this region," Edmonds added.
"We're very excited to come on board this global initiative, and to integrate its innovative technologies and approaches into our own global system to ensure the integrity of our customer's shipments," said Griffin of Transoceanic, a 55-year-old company and the leading U.S.-based freight forwarder of project-specific shipments, especially ones involving the refurbishing or construction of facilities or buildings for the energy, oil and gas industries as well as the U.S. State Department. "By linking our shipments to Smart and Secure Tradelanes, we'll provide greater assurances of security, value-added information and better services for our customer base."
Unlike other participants in SST who seek greater security of U.S.-bound shipments, Transoceanic plans to leverage the network to ensure the security of outbound shipments it manages from the Port of Houston to international destinations. One of its initial applications is planned for a major building project in Kabul, Afghanistan. "If anyone tampers with cargo - whether inbound or outbound - it could lead to costly delays and increased liabilities, especially for critical supplies to build or refurbish everything from refineries to government embassies," said Griffin.
"It's gratifying to see that the Port of Houston Authority continues to take a leadership position in adopting the latest proven technologies and best practices to protect the critical infrastructure and economic engine of the Gulf region by becoming part of Smart and Secure Tradelanes," said Ned Holmes on behalf of SCST. "The only way to ensure the safety and security of shipments in today's world is by having industry partners work closely together and with governments, which is the mission of Smart and Secure Tradelanes," added Holmes, who preceded Edmonds as chairman of the PHA.
Although industry-funded and initiated, SST partners work in close coordination with a number of U.S. and non-U.S. government entities, especially to ensure compliance with such government initiatives as U.S. Customs' Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Customs Trade Program Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and Custom's 24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule.
Founding members of SST include three of the world's largest port operators - Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), P&O Ports and PSA Corporation - which together manage about 70 per cent of the world's container shipments at their port and terminal facilities. SST's objective is to rapidly deploy a baseline infrastructure that provides real-time visibility, physical security through non-intrusive, automated inspection and detection alerts, as well as a complete audit trail of a container's journey from origin to final destination.
The SST solution leverages technology and infrastructure of the U.S. Department of Defense's Total Asset Visibility (TAV) network, a battle-tested, real-time response information system that another SST partner (Savi Technology) helped to build. TAV, the world's largest wireless cargo tracking network, was designed and deployed to track all military shipments during times of peace and conflict through truck, train, and ship transportation - from the factory to the foxhole. The TAV network is built on existing U.S. and international standards that allow open integration of automatic identification and data collection technologies.
SST leverages TAV's existing infrastructure and proven automatic identification technologies, including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), satellite tracking systems, sensors, and biometrics that are integrated with enterprise-class software.
About the Strategic Council on Security Technology 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. More information can be found at www.scst.info.
About the Port of Houston Authority
The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-miled long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo.
Each year, more than 6,600 vessels call at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in overall total tonnage, and sixth largest in the world. The Port Authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The PHA's Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001.
Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C:" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com