Digital Container Shipping Association has published a series of standards enabling industrywide container tracking, optimal navigation and load list sharing
As more container liners adopt digitalisation, container monitoring and voyage optimisation, there is an increased need for data standards and harmonisation.
With these trends in mind, Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) created a series of standards in 2020 covering internet of things (IoT), data definitions for optimal navigation and communicating load lists.
These standards can be implemented across the maritime logistics chain to reduce incompatibility issues and improve co-operation between stakeholders.
Ship operators and owners, ports, terminals, container yards, inland logistics providers and other third parties can adopt these standards to improve interoperability.
For container monitoring and tracking, DCSA published IoT standards for container connectivity. Its IoT Standard for Gateway Connectivity Interfaces includes radio standards for vessels and on land, incorporating connectivity for transceivers on containers and in handheld devices.
These IoT standards provide connectivity recommendations that are vendor and platform agnostic to reduce investment risk, increase operational efficiency and enable innovation, says DCSA chief executive Thomas Bagge.
He says these standards will help to enable the mass deployment of ‘smart containers’ that provide information in real time to stakeholders. This can become an uninterrupted flow of data to track cargo at any point along the container route.
“Once implemented, our IoT standards will enable reefer container tracking, monitoring and controlling along the entire container journey, with no connectivity blind spots,” says Mr Bagge.
“This will provide more value to the end customer while increasing the efficiency of container operations. We are giving the industry a framework for interoperability that will allow stakeholders to create innovative IoT solutions.”
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe chief of trade facilitation section Maria Rosaria Ceccarelli says DCSA’s new standards will help align the industry in terms of IoT interoperability and the standards are “complementary with the UN/CEFACT interoperability standards, namely the Multi Modal Transport Data Reference Model and the Smart Container Business Requirement Specifications.”
IoT Standard for Gateway Connectivity Interfaces is the first of three IoT standards releases addressing the connectivity requirements for refrigerated and dry containers, and the radio frequency identification (RFID) registration of these containers. Future DCSA releases will focus on data structure and handling, physical device specifications, security and access management.
In July, DCSA released standards facilitating automatic sharing of vessel schedule data between carriers and operational service providers. This enables carriers to digitally publish their operational vessel schedules (OVS). Partners and operational service providers can then subscribe to the carrier’s feed to automatically receive updates, or retrieve updates as required.
DCSA’s OVS standard publication comprises a set of documents including DCSA Industry Blueprint 2.0 with vessel schedule definitions and an updated glossary of terms; DCSA Information Model 2.0; Data Interface Standards for OVS 1.0 and associated reading guides.
Ocean Network Express corporate and innovation managing director Yu Kurimoto expects these publications to increase efficiency and enable better planning and optimisation of shipping activities.
“OVS is a perfect example of an area in which digitalisation would provide these benefits,” he says. “This is one of many initiatives to be put forth by DCSA to accelerate digitalisation through a unified industry effort.”
DCSA followed this by publishing standards for communicating load lists and bay plans. These are used to prepare for port calls, with vessel operators estimating the number of container moves, whether these are loading or discharged, and to estimate the required terminal equipment.
Load list and bay plan definitions provide standards and timelines for communicating container volumes and stowage details between vessel-sharing-agreement partners, terminals and ports.
In October, DCSA released its standard data definitions to enable just-in-time (JIT) port calls, which are being considered by stakeholders to reduce CO2 emissions across the industry.
Benefits to vessel operators from JIT come from forward planning and executing voyages to optimise ship speed to match a specific date and time the vessel can berth. This should reduce fuel consumption, emissions and waiting times outside terminals. For ports, JIT enables the optimal use of terminal facilities to maximise capacity and enable advanced booking of marine services.
“JIT port calls will streamline key processes for industry stakeholders, and it will also benefit the environment,” says Mr Bagge, “Enabling a vessel to optimise its speed during the voyage to arrive just in time at the pilot boarding place, when berth availability is ensured, will significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed.”
He says achieving JIT will require digital collaboration between carriers, ports and terminals. “DCSA’s digital standards play an important role in establishing the harmonious ecosystem that will allow this level of collaboration,” says Mr Bagge.
Track and trace
APM Terminals has deployed a standardised container tracking system worldwide for customers to monitor their cargo. Customers can use this track and trace (T&T) service to set up APM’s Container Watchlist and receive email notifications.
More than 22 of APM’s terminals provide access to T&T container tracking using an online standard interface. Over the rest of this year, the T&T platform will be deployed at more terminals, including APM’s facilities in Spain and Mumbai, India.
APM Terminals digital solution manager Wiebe-Jan Kloosterman says containers can be tracked over multiple terminals with one standard platform. “This saves customers time and effort, continually copying and pasting their containers into the search to retrieve the latest status,” he says.
New functions have been introduced to the T&T platform for saving import containers, filtering options and container identification. T&T platform was introduced at APM US terminals in Los Angeles, Mobile and Port Elizabeth in October.
APM plans to implement improved functionality and usability for live vessel schedules in 2021.
Containers can be tracked at sea using satellite networks, 4G, long-term evolution and eventually 5G networks, depending on range. L-band is particularly useful for container tracking as there is worldwide coverage, terminals can be small and light, and its signal is unaffected by adverse weather.
Iridium upgraded its constellation of L-band low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the past three years to offer ship communications, tracking and monitoring technology.
Orbcomm provides IoT data solutions using its satellite constellation. In October, Orbcomm and Inmarsat extended their collaboration in IoT and tracking technology.
Together they have developed OGx services with data rates that are 40-times faster than the current IsatData Pro (IDP) service to enable larger messages and faster transmission from IoT networks.
Both partners expect OGx services to be available in 2022 when Inmarsat’s sixth-generation (I-6) constellation is commissioned.
Inmarsat will also distribute Orbcomm’s portfolio of OGx telematics devices globally through its sales channels. IoT solutions will include global wireless connectivity, hardware and advanced, cloud-based reporting and analytics platforms.
NICDC Logistics Data Services (NLDS) has extended its container tracking services across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. With deployment in Pipavav Port, NLDS covers all of India’s container volume through its Logistics Data Bank, including in 27 ports.
This single-window container tracker uses information communications technology providing better governance, transparency and visibility of services for Indian ports and terminals.
NLDS said it reduces port dwell time and overall transportation time of containers for imports and exports.
APM Terminals uses NLDS container tracking to optimise port operations, says APM Terminals Pipavav managing director Jakob Friis Sorensen. “NLDS services will help in strengthening port operations and will play a critical role in reducing high logistics cost,” he says. NLDS is a joint venture between the Government of India and Japanese IT group NEC Corp.