Heineken and IBM, along with a few other companies, have partnered together to test wireless tracking of beer shipments. Dubbed “The Living Beer Lab,” the scheme will allow Heineken to know the exact location of any shipment of its beer, even in the middle of the ocean, using “triangulation techniques of both satellites and cellular base stations to locate exactly where the cargo is.”
The first test is currently underway, with ten containers of Heineken in the water and in transit from both the Netherlands and Great Britain en route to the United States.
According to ZDNet UK, “Integration has been completed with IBM WebSphere service oriented architecture (SOA) to maintain a paperless trail of the beer’s journey from customs in Europe through US customers and into the distribution centre on the other side of the Atlantic. The process will eliminate the need to fill in up to 30 documents on each journey, and could vastly decrease the amount of time the beer spends in transit.”
Here’s a more thorough explanation of how it all works, complete with impenetrable business jargon from The Retail Bulletin:
IBM’s Secure Trade Lane solution will provide real-time visibility and interoperability through an advanced wireless sensor platform and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), based on IBM’s WebSphere platform. The project’s SOA, called the Shipment Information Services, leverages the EPCglobal network and EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) standards, so rather than build and maintain a large central database with huge amounts of information, distributed data sources are linked, allowing data to be shared in real time between Heineken, Safmarine and customs authorities in the Netherlands, England and The United States.
In this project, Safmarine will ship ten containers of Heineken beer from locations in both Netherlands and England, through their Customs Authorities, to the Heineken distribution center in United States. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will coordinate the project and provide best practices documentation to share across the European Union.
“The Beer Living Lab is setting a roadmap for the next generation e-Customs solutions. We test innovative solutions, based on IBM’s Tamper Resistant Embedded Controller (TREC) and SOA developed by IBM that could revolutionize customs,” said Dr. Yao-Hua Tan, professor of Electronic Business, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “Companies using these solutions could benefit greatly due to less physical inspections by customs; thus these e-customs solutions greatly facilitate international trade.”
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, more than 30 different documents are associated with one single container crossing a border, which equals roughly five billion documents annually. The findings of the project will provide a viable alternative to manufacturers, shippers, retailers and customs administrations as they look to move to a paperless trade environment. Once accepted and implemented widely, paperless trade will support initiatives such as Green Lane, which will eliminate most inspections on arrival, thus significantly speeding up ocean fright shipments and improving the profit margins for shippers.
“Because efficient collaboration is a paramount requirement to making this work, IBM built the Shipment Information Services to address interoperability. If governments around the world are serious about electronic customs and paperless trade, they need to encourage each country to adopt open standards environments to enable collaboration and data sharing throughout the trade lane,” said Stefan Reidy, Manager, Secure Trade Lane, IBM. “The Beer Living Lab project is the first step in building the Intranet of Trade, which will help to substantially improve efficiency and security in the global supply chain.”
Now if only they’d stop using those green bottles that result in Heineken being such a skunked beer most of the time.